Korean Travel: Beware of Scam Artists, Taxi Drivers

People traveling to Korea for business or sightseeing start off full of anticipation, ready to explore a new culture and expand their horizons. By the time they land at Incheon International Airport near Seoul, it’s 24 hours later; they are dazed, exhausted and ready for a long sleep. Jet lag and fatigue make a weary traveler a target for the man waiting for them at the airport, waiting to help the unsuspecting traveler part with a lot of their money.

He looks like just another taxi driver. Instead, he’s just a scam artist with a car and no connection to a professional taxi service. Frequent travelers to Incheon learn to beware those who have no credentials or identification that marks them as licensed taxi operators, but newcomers sometimes learn the hard way; those who get taken wind up being driven into the middle of nowhere, and charged exorbitant amounts to be taken to the final destination. The scam artists often target young service members arriving in country for the first time, but anyone can be a target.

Travelers who seem lost or confused are especially attractive to these operators, who are quite pushy and actually try to bully some people into taking their “taxi”! These kinds of travel scams get only a small amount of publicity. Fortunately the U.S. Department of State has a wealth of information at www.travel.state.gov, where travelers can read about the latest travel warnings, crime and political issues that could affect a business trip. The web site provides information by country in the Consular Information section-a valuable tool for the first time foreign traveler.

Travel scams are only the tip of the iceberg. Should you drink the water? What if you need to visit a hospital during your overseas stay? You can get help with these questions and more at www.independenttraveler.com. In the Travel Resources section there is advice ranging from water purification, what to do if you lose your passport, even protecting yourself from the travel scammers.
Another resource is the excellent web site provided by UNZ and Company. www.unzco.con offers a section called the “Basic Guide To Exporting:” Chapter fourteen details everything a business traveler needs including proper documentation, rules concerning duty-free export of sample products and even offers some advice on doing business cross-cultures.

Experienced business travelers take much of this information for granted but the information on these web sites is perfect for creating training documents and helping a less-experienced partner make their first journey overseas to represent the company. A well-informed traveler is more at ease, better prepared and can concentrate on the task at hand-representing the business.

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