Pouring Soju at night
40~50 years ago, although illegal in Korea, drunk driving was rather overlooked in society. People would drive their car home after drinking overnight (secretly). However, with the introduction of a breathalyzer, a device for estimating blood alcohol content, by the National Police Agency in 1981, the crackdown on drunk driving became strict, raising social awareness of drunk driving and increasing the social need for Dae-ri Un-jeon (대리운전).
Dae-ri Un-jeon is a vocation that replaces a car owner to drive him/her home. People often use Dae-ri Un-jeon service when they have been drinking and need someone to take them home with a car. (or sometimes when they feel sick but there’s no one to take them home…????)
Dae-ri (대리) = substitution, replacement
Un-jeon (운전) = drive
???? It would be something like “replacement driver or designated driver” if translated in English.
People trying to catch a taxi.
People may wonder… Korea has a convenient public transportation system. Can’t they just ride a bus or subway, or even a taxi, home?
Yes they can, but you have to park your car overnight, take a bus/subway/taxi, and bring back your car next day. That’s just so much work and $$$. Koreans (with a car) would rather pay money for Dae-ri Un-jeon, which is more expensive than grabbing a cab but less expensive than parking your car overnight. The minimum fare usually starts at 15,000 won (≅ 15 dollars) and it increases depending on how far you are going. And there’s no tipping. The busiest hours on workdays are from 9pm to 11pm. On workdays, people prefer to go home before 12am for work next day. But on Fridays????, the busiest hours start from 12am because theres’ no need to worry about waking up early next day.
*FYI: Public transportations usually end at around 12am. After 12am, a taxi would be an alternative choice, but catching a taxi gets quite difficult because everyone wants to go home.????
Dae-ri Un-jeon advertisement by T-Map
Dae-ri Un-jeon advertisement by Kakao T
How do you use Dae-ri Un-jeon service?
In the early 2000s, life before smartphones, it was very similar with calling a taxi. You call a Dae-ri Un-jeon company and they connect you with a driver nearby. The name cards of Dae-ri Un-jeon drivers are located at the front desk of restaurants and bars so that customers can easily give a call. Nowadays, it’s just like Uber. Using apps like Kakao T, T-Map, or Tada, you designate your current location and a final destination and a driver nearby will catch a call. A driver usually arrives in 10~15 minutes.
But unlike Uber, they don’t own a car. How do they move from place to place?
Who are the drivers?
Many people become a Dae-ri Un-jeon driver to compensate for their reduced (or lost) income. They normally have a day job that’s insufficient to make a living or to support their family. Recently, thousands of people were laid off or lost their job due to the Covid-19 pandemic. They had no choice but to do whatever they can. Many have temporarily become a Dae-ri Un-jeon driver, a delivery man, or a construction worker.
???? Discussion for Today’s Topic :
How do you come home after a night of drinking when you happen bring your car?
Feel free to share your opinion with us. ????