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∙ Current position: Academy of Finland Postdoctoral Researcher, Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Helsinki
∙ Ph.D. dissertation Neighborhood Shopkeepers in Contemporary South Korea: Household, Work, and Locality available online (E-Thesis publications a the University of Helsinki). For printed copies, please contact me by e-mail.
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Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Decreasing use of taxi

At least over here the use of taxi is taken to be a good gauge of economic currents. The use of taxi is said to decrease before the actual economic downturn begins. Sure taxi isn't part of "public transport" (taejung kyot'ong) as in Korea, used mainly by the well-off, upstarts, old people with a certain number of communal taxi coupons, and by us ordinary people only when there's no other alternative.
Joongang Ilbo tells that despite of the increasing unemployment, taxi companies have difficulties in recruiting people. This should be noteworthy as driving a taxi has usually been a recourse when other employment is difficult to find (or when funds or courage for an own business is lacking). Drivers are leaving taxi companies in increasing numbers because it's difficult to earn enough for a living behind the wheel, as said in the headline: "cannot earn even million won [€670] a month".
전남연(58)씨는 "택시운전 20년 만에 이렇게 손님이 없기는 처음"이라며 "한달에 90만원 벌이밖에 안되는데 누가 운전하겠느냐"고 말했다. 서울 광화문 동화빌딩 앞에서 만난 모범택시 기사 송정성(61)씨도 "외환위기(IMF) 때보다 더 어렵다. 두 시간 기다려 겨우 손님 한 분을 모셨다"며 한숨을 내쉬었다.
"Never been this difficult in the 20 years I've been driving a cab" or "more difficult than during the IMF"; very familiar voices not only from cab drivers - but it cannot only be taken as a typical shopkeeper/self-employed/entrepreneur talk.

A few numbers from the table:
Number of company cabs in Seoul 24 000, private cabs 47 000.
Not sure what the "traffic assignment rate" (susong pundamnyul) in the table means; the amount of time in traffic compared to the time standing?

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