|Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to install safety shields in all taxis by 2024 to protect drivers from passengers. / Yonhap|
By Kim Hyun-bin
Seoul City will install safety shields in all taxis by 2024, to better protect drivers from passengers, as there has been an increase in assault cases in recent years.
The shields are made of transparent materials, such as plastic, which separate the driver's seat from rear passenger seats and prevent physical contact. Many developed countries including the U.S., Japan and European nations have already enforced the driver shield policy.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) plans to allocate a little over 5 billion won by 2022 to install the protective shields in 50,290 taxis, covering half of the cost for each shield, 200,000 won, with taxi companies paying the remaining half.
The city will conduct a test run of the shields in 250 taxis this year and plans to expand it. It also plans to request the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport to amend the passenger law that will allow the use of government budget in installing the shields.
"We will install the shields in late-night taxis first and conduct a survey to find a favorable type that will be used," a city official said.
According to the Korean National Police Agency, 16,089 people were charged with assaulting taxi or bus drivers between 2013 and 2017, about nine cases a day. On Sunday, a drunken passenger beat up a female taxi driver and ran away in Namyangju, Gyeonggi Province. He turned himself in to the police the next day, acknowledging the incident but claiming he did not remember the details as he was drunk.