Yo! Cabbie!

So this is what happens when you sit on a blog post. NKnews goes and gets there first. Man, the internet moves fast these days. Anyway... Along with other forms of traffic in the capital, the number of taxis on the road has ballooned in the last few months.

There are now at least three companies competing to fulfill your individual transportation needs, one of which has seen a massive fleet expansion. Brand new Chinese-made BYD small sedans dominate the fleet. Rather than the subtle markings that marked taxis past in Pyongyang, these cars are an unambiguous bright yellow and green, with a larger rooftop sign than other taxis. This makes the fleet an extremely differentiated brand in an autoscape of black, white, grey and military green.

It appears all taxis from three companies now take the increasingly ubiquitous ‘narae card’ as payment so there is no need to fiddle with change – incidentally, the popularity of the narae card is in no small part due to the difficulty retail businesses have in providing hard currency change to customers.

Groups of taxis tend to cluster around the city’s hotels. Fares are usually one US dollar per kilometer, though there appears to be room for negotiation. Visiting foreigners are not yet allowed to ride taxis unaccompanied by a Korean guide. Resident expats are supposedly allowed, though we haven't met anyone who has taken a taxi and moreover, the taxis aren't allowed in the diplomatic compound where most westerners live.