How to Identify a Legitimate Taxi in Seoul
To identify a legally operating taxi in Seoul, just look at the license plate. There are 2 things you need to focus upon. All license plates in South Korea look something like this:
서울 12 아 3456
The encoding is as follows:
region name (in which the vehicle is registered) + 2 digits + 2 Korean characters + 4 digits
1. Look at the two-digit sequence on taxi license plates:
ALL legitimate taxis will have a 2 digit sequence that begins with a '3' (the second digit in that sequence will range from 1 to 7). Here are the specifics of what this 2 digit sequence means:
31, 32, 36 = privately owned taxis
33, 34, 37 = company owned (leased) taxis
35 = luxury taxis
NOTE: Do not take a taxi with 30, 38, or 39, as these are NOT legally operating taxis.
The base fare in all (except for luxury and reserved international) taxis should be KRW2400.
2. Look at the middle two Korean characters:
ALL legitimate taxis will have one of the following 4 combinations:
아, 사, 자, 바
NOTE: Any other combination of Korean letters on a taxi denotes that it is NOT a legally operating vehicle.
International (foreigner) taxis: While there is no restriction on vehicle color for taxis, the Seoul city government has designated a fleet of international taxis (Hi-Seoul Taxis), specifically for international residents and visitors, which provide service in English and Japanese. These taxis are orange in colour and have “Hi-Seoul” written on them. These taxis and are available ONLY by reservation.
The base fare is slightly higher in these taxis (KRW2880) and the metered rate is 20% higher than regular taxis, but there is no additional surcharge (over and above the metered fare). Detailed taxi fare information can be found here . When you reserve one of these taxis, you will be sent a confirmation email and / or SMS text message to your cell phone containing the license plate number of the taxi (as well as the driver’s name and cell phone number) that has been assigned to you. These taxis are pre-assigned. Information about how to reserve an international taxi can be found here .
Because these taxis are usually only available by reservation, if you see one & try to wave it down, it might not stop for you. It’s entirely up to the discretion of the driver and he or she likely won’t stop unless they are:
a) not on their way to another call AND
b) relatively certain that they can provide service in the language that they are assuming you speak. IF, one of these taxis is flagged down and stops for you, the base price should show KRW2400 and you should be charged the regular metered rate (20% less than if you had called and reserved the taxi).
The Haechi taxis (also intended for foreign residents) are orange, too, but will also have a white stripe & the Haechi (a creature that resembles a dog crossed with a seal or otter) symbol on them. These taxis do not require a reservation and will provide translation service, but will charge the same base fare and metered raes as regular (grey-coloured) taxis.
Regardless of the colour of the taxi: the license plates of ALL legitimate taxis will adhere to the encoding described above.
Image Source: City of Seoul
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Last Updated on 2013-10-04
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