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How do I know a taxi is a legal one and not a pirate?

Primarily by thelicense plate.

Korea license plates look like this: 서울 12 아 3456.
The encoding is as follows:
region name (in which the vehicle is registered - in this case Seoul) + 2 digits + 2 Korean characters + 4 digits.

1. Look at the 2-digit sequence on taxi license plates: 
ALL legitimate taxis will have a 2 digit sequence that begins with a '3' (the second digit in that sequence will range from 1 to 7).  Here are the specifics of what this 2 digit sequence means:
31, 32, 36 = privately owned taxis
33, 34, 37 = company owned (leased) taxis
35 = luxury taxis

NOTE: DO NOT take a taxi with 30, 38, or 39, as these are NOT legally operating taxis.

2. Look at the middle 2 Korean characters:
ALL legitimate taxis will have one of the following 4 combinations:
아, 사, 자, 바
Any other combination of Korean letters on a taxi denotes that it is NOT a legally operating vehicle.



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