This morning I jumped into a taxi to get to work and was immediately blasted by music from the ajusshi driver’s stereo playing the soundtrack from a movie he was watching on the dashboard monitor . . .
I tried to tell him where I want to go, and got the typical response I get from most taxi drivers, “Unnnnh?!” You might think this is because I can’t speak Korean, but I’ve been in Korea for over five years, and I’ve mastered how to say different destinations and the common expressions used in Korean for taxi situations.
I said my destination again very loudly, and the driver still said, “Unnnh?!!!” I had to yell at him to turn down the stereo so that he could hear me–this is very poor customer service, and frankly speaking, all too typical of many Korean taxi ajusshi drivers’ attitudes when interacting with foreigners.
After turning down his stereo system, with a great display of disgust towards me for telling him to do so, he finally understood where I wanted him to take me.
While he drove me to my destination he muttered under his breath in Korean and kept glaring at me in the rear view mirror.
Is this the kind of reputation Seoul wants foreigners who live and work here to tell their family and friends about back in their home countries? Is this the kind of reputation Korea wants foreigners to present about the ajusshi of Korea? I don’t think so.
If Korea wants to improve its international brand name as a developed country on the global stage it needs to consider developing an etiquette program for its taxi drivers. These men are on the front lines of customer service and in Seoul have a high degree of visibility and frequency of interacting with foreigners–especially tourists who are only in Korea for a brief stay.
What do you think tourists say about Korean culture if they have to deal with rude and inconsiderate ajusshi taxi drivers when they go home?
An additional question that Korean tourism adminstrators might want to consider is what kind of image and reputation do they think bloggers who live and work in Korea produce when they are treated rudely when all they are trying to do is go to work, and they are paying for a service which supports the Korean economy?
Please consider creating a tourism etiquette program for the ajusshi taxi drivers of Seoul, and if possible across Korea.
A very dissatisfied taxi customer.