About 100,000 taxi drivers will gather at Yeouido, Seoul, Thursday afternoon for a massive protest against Kakao’s carpool service, taxi unions said Wednesday. The drivers also warned that they might surround the National Assembly with their taxis.
Amid the ongoing conflict between the taxi industry and Korea’s tech giant Kakao, taxi drivers have organized multiple protests urging the company to abandon its carpool business plans. The recent death of a 57-year-old taxi driver, who set himself on fire in protest, has fueled the drivers’ anger and resulted in fiercer protests.
“Whether we live or die, we will devote all our efforts to protest (against Kakao) tomorrow,” National Taxi Labor Union leader Kang Sin-pyo said Wednesday at a press conference.
The protest is set to start at 2 p.m. Thursday in front of the National Assembly. The unions expect about 100,000 drivers to participate the rally, including those coming to Seoul from across the country.
A march will block roads in Yeouido and part of the Mapo Bridge from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., while most taxi drivers nationwide are expected to take part in the strike from 6 a.m. Thursday until 5 a.m. Friday.
Kang also said some 10,000 taxi drivers would encircle the National Assembly in their taxis to express their anger. However, police said that action was not included in the protest plan the group submitted.
“We are sorry for creating inconvenience, but we hope the public understand our desperate circumstances,” Kang said.
In response to the strike, some cities including Busan, Incheon, Gwangju and Daegu will extend public transportation services on Thursday, with longer hours of operation and more frequent service. Seoul City said it will observe the traffic conditions on Thursday and deal with the matter flexibly.
By Park Ju-young (firstname.lastname@example.org)