Now Playing

Uber's CEO Is Now a Wanted Man in South Korea

Does this mean he's a hero in North Korea?

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick 


Prosecutors in Seoul, South Korea gave an early Christmas present to beleaguered cabbies—an indictment of Uber and its CEO Travis Kalanick. According to Reuters, the Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office announced that it would be moving forward with legal charges against the ride-sharing firm for violating a law prohibiting the provision of transportation services without a license. It may be the first time that the company has been charged with violating local laws anywhere in the world.

However, it’s not the first time that the San Francisco company has run afoul of South Korean authorities. Last week, Seoul's city council voted to fine Uber drivers who were not registered as cabbies and even to offer a $900 bounty for reporting unlicensed drivers. Uber has defended itself, issuing a statement claiming that its service is “not only legal in Korea” but also “welcomed and supported by consumers.” It also vowed “full cooperation” the Korean legal system.

The news from Korea is the latest in a string of setbacks for Uber, which include a civil suit brought by the District Attorneys of San Francisco and Los Angeles, a temporary suspension in Portland, Oregon, and bans on Uber’s low-cost version in several European cities. No arrest warrant will be issued for Kalanick in South Korea, though the penalty for breaking this particular law is a maximum fine of around $18,000 and two years imprisonment.

But really, imprisoning people for engaging in capitalism is really more of North Korea's joint, isn't it?


Have feedback? Email us at
Email Scott Lucas at
Follow us on Twitter @sanfranmag
Follow Scott Lucas on Twitter @ScottLucas86