On Oct. 21, representatives of private taxi drivers from around the nation gathered to kick off a welfare foundation for private taxi drivers, something they had wanted to create since 2005. The welfare foundation, which promises various benefits including health care, education and financing for new vehicles, also aims to provide a mobility platform as one of many profit-making activities.
The mobility app will be offered and managed by a new company called Mirae Ohsung Group. The group made headlines earlier this year when it said it was preparing to launch Didi Chuxing, China’s dominant mobility platform operator, in Korea.
“The current Kakao-focused market offers little benefit to us so we wanted to look for an alternative to Kakao Mobility. Uber has a bad reputation among taxi drivers. India’s Ola is too far and China’s Didi Chuxing appears to be a good option,” Kim Jae-mun, a representative of the welfare foundation, said.
Kakao Mobility faced fierce criticism when it launched the Uber-like ride-hailing service Kakao Carpool. Taxi drivers strongly opposed the service, saying it threatened their livelihood. Since the company test-launched the service in December 2018, four taxi drivers have taken their lives. In response, Kakao permanently discontinued the service.
To defuse the confrontation, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport unveiled plans on July 17th that would allow new ride-hailing and car-hailing platforms to enter the market while also providing support for the taxi industry. Among other features of the plan, it includes a requirement that platform service providers contribute to a government program to purchase taxi licenses.
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