In other words, everyone can be 10 million won richer in a matter of two weeks this year by simply finding and reporting 10 Uber taxis.
Under Seoul City’s ordinance revised on January 2 with the aim of cracking down on Uber, tipsters don’t have to be a Korean national and if the bounty hunter is younger than 19 years old, his or her legal representatives, such as parents can collect the reward on their behalf.
So how exactly do you claim rewards?
First, you need to find an Uber taxi and ride it to a destination in Seoul, according to Park Young-sook, an official in charge of Uber-busting at the Guro District Officer.
Though you cannot file more than one report a day, you will be allowed to file 10 reports in 10 days.
Second, you need to provide a receipt, which you will get through your smartphone.
Third, you need to secure a photo of the Uber taxi’s license plate.
Fourth, you need to provide a photo or video of the Uber taxi that you ride with while it is moving in Seoul along with a screenshot of your Uber application showing the Uber taxi moving from one location to another.
Fifth, you will need to secure an extra audio and video recording where the driver acknowledges that he works for Uber and he is making money by giving you a ride.
Finally, you will need to visit a district office to submit a form called “서울특별시 여객자동차 운송사업법 위반행위 신고포상금 지급 신청서,” which is an application to claim a bounty for reporting traffic offenders. You should provide your supporting evidence either in a CD or USB.
So has anyone received any compensation so far or has anyone been 10 million won richer over the past one month?
Unfortunately, the answer is simply “no.”
“The accused will be given a chance to defend their case and the accuser’s evidence will also need to be verified before the reward is given.”
Now, what will be the odds be for an Uber hunter receiving 10 million won?
An Uber official expects that Seoul will likely have difficulties with its low budget for the reward program because too many people will seek rewards and the city has set aside only 100 million won for the bounty program this year.
“The city will watch how many reports are made in February and will revise the amount,” she said.
The City government received more than 280 reports of Uber drivers illegally operating in Seoul last month, according to Yang Wan-soo, director of Seoul Metropolitan Government’s taxi and logistics division.
If every case is deemed legitimate, Seoul will have to spend three times its annual budget for Uber busting just for the January cases.
However, Yang dismissed Uber’s claim, saying the city remains absolutely determined to root out Uber’s illegal operations and will be able to pay all tipsters 1 million won each time they report an uber driver’s operation.
“Everyone is entitled to report an Uber driver 10 times a year.”
Yang, who is now spearheading the Uber crackdown campaign, claims that the Seoul government will increase its budget as much as it needs to stop Uber from operating in the capital region.
He, however, hinted that catching an Uber driver will be tougher than one may expect.
“We are letting the public catch Uber drivers because we were unable to catch them,” he said.
Yang noted that Uber managed to suspend the Uber accounts of his crackdown team.
Nevertheless, it wasn’t difficult to find an Uber driver in Seoul. In just a matter of minutes, this reporter found an Uber Taxi at lunchtime on Friday.
“Please don’t report me,” Yoon-hae, an Uber driver, asked I got into his Hyundai Grandeur sedan on Friday afternoon.
The driver, however, was confident that he will be able to dodge any penalties even when any of his customers files a report against him to claim a reward.
“All I do is move one passenger from one place to another,” he said.
“As you can see, I don’t collect any money from passengers as all the transactions are made electronically. There is no receipt or other physical evidence that would indicate that I was making money by driving an Uber taxi.”
When asked whether it is true that Uber promised to pay penalties that Uber drivers would receive, Yoon-hae replied that he heard about a compensation plan but this has yet to be officially confirmed.
A spokeswoman for Uber Seoul also stressed that Uber has never officially announced that it would pay fines of its drivers.
A Seoul official, however, pointed out that Uber hunters do not have to worry about the financial burdens that Uber drivers have to face.
“Uber drivers will not face a fine as the penalty for driving an Uber taxi is suspension of their driver’s license for 180 days,” she said.
“Uber drivers will only be fined for a maximum penalty of 5 million won when they are caught driving while their license is suspended. We will confiscate their license plate to prevent it from happening.”
In December last year, prosecutors in Seoul indicted Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick and the head of the Korean unit for the violation of a rule that states all vehicles for business purposes must be licensed. The two are facing a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a fine of 20 million won.
In January, the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) filed a criminal case against Uber Korea as the tech startup has failed to meet its obligation of registering its location-tracking service with the authorities
KCC claims Uber Korea’s violated the Act on the Protection and Use of Location Information. The charges carry a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a fine of 30 million won.