S. Korean taxi drivers band together against vomiting passengers

We've all had one of those nights. We go out with friends and rather than enjoying a cocktail or two, we consume a small distillery's worth of spirits and inevitably end up praying to the porcelain gods. The location of the vomit varies, though, and if you're unlucky, you end up not in the loving embrace of the toilet, but in the cramped confines of a (sober) friend's backseat. Or worse, you puke in a taxi.

While tremendous embarrassment and a significant tip might get you out of trouble with an American taxi driver, cabbies in the South Korean capital of Seoul have had it with their passenger's puking antics. Starting on February 1, the city's two taxi associations will begin asking passengers that throw up to pay a city-approved 150,000-won ($138 at today's rates) fine. According to Stars and Stripes, taxi drivers already routinely demand an additional fee for retching fares.

"Taxi drivers clean over and over again, but the vomit smell lasts so long that often they can't drive the taxi again the next day," an member of the Seoul Private Taxi Association told the armed forces' news website.

While vomiting in a cab might be a relative rarity here in the United States, it's apparently a near-epidemic problem in South Korea. Stars and Stripes reports that in a survey of 4,800 taxi drivers, 42 percent of complaints – nearly 11,000 in total – related to passengers throwing up in cabs. That's a whole lot of puke.

Now, you might be wondering, what's to stop a freshly purged drunk from simply ignoring the fine and just wandering off into the night? Well, it's best to think of the 150,000-won fine as a minimum. Should a fare choose to ignore that figure, the driver can demand even more money, and could attempt to obtain the fine in civil court.

"Maybe passengers are going to be more careful not to puke in taxis," an official with the city's Taxi Logistics Division told S&S.

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