In 2007, a shocking incident occurred in Seoul. Deemed the “Hongdae Murder Incident” by the media. According to the report, two female office workers in their 20s were reported missing, but were later found dead. The culprit of the crime was found to be a taxi driver, sending shockwaves through society. At the time of the incident, another taxi driver had raped and strangled the two women and dumped their bodies near the Hangang River.
Until then, most Koreans thought that taxis were safe, but after this horrible incident, people began to fear taxis. Particularly, women’s fear of taking a taxi at night escalated, as these sex crimes targeted women going home late at night. Many residents stopped taking taxis at night. Some men, who would send their date home by taxi, would even memorize or jot down the license plate number of the taxi. Such behaviors have become a social norm.
However, as crimes using taxis gradually increased, the city of Seoul decided to introduce “Safety services” allowing residents to use taxis without worrying about their safety. If socially-vulnerable people, such as women and children, take a taxi at night, this service provides information, such as the taxi’s license plate number, boarding time, and transit location. This information is automatically sent via text message to a designated overseer, and the overseer can then check the route of the taxi in real time through the Internet or these days via smart phone. As a result, Seoul residents have started to feel safe about taking taxis again.