The government of Seoul on Thursday announced a plan to crack down on taxi drivers who overcharge foreign tourists in time for the peak autumn tourist season.
The crackdown is scheduled for Sept. 30-Oct. 9, a period that coincides with China's National Day holiday falling on Oct. 1-7, the Seoul Metropolitan Government said.
The crackdown will be intensively conducted in airports, hotels and popular tourist destinations, it said, noting that municipal officials who can speak foreign languages such as English, Chinese and Japanese will personally interview foreign tourists at those spots to listen to their complaints.
Under the current rules, a taxi driver is fined 200,000 won ($167) for the first overcharging offense.
The fine increases to 400,000 won for a second overcharging offense, with the driver's license suspended for 30 days.
In case of a third violation, the fine rises to 600,000 won and the driver's license is nullified.
The municipal authorities will also punish taxi drivers who refuse to take passengers, as well as those who impose unreasonably high extra charges.
"Crackdowns on illegal practices by taxi drivers will be further strengthened to ensure that foreign tourists can conveniently travel throughout Seoul," a Seoul government official said.
Foreign tourists being ripped off by taxi drivers has long been a social problem in Seoul.
Common taxi driver rip-offs cited by the municipal government included charging foreign shoppers 30,000 to 50,000 won for a basic distance ride from the Dongdaemun shopping district that usually costs 3,800 won during daytime and 4,600 won late at night.
Some taxi drivers have also been caught manipulating fare meters while transporting foreign passengers from downtown hotels to airports.(Yonhap)