SEOUL — Starting taxi fares in Seoul will increase from 1,900 to 2,400 won June 1, Seoul city officials said Thursday.

The 26 percent hike is meant to discourage taxi drivers from not picking up passengers who want to travel short distances, and to compensate for the higher cost of operating taxis, a city spokesman said. Seoul last increased its taxi fares in June 2005.

The base fare covers the first two kilometers of the trip. Charges for additional distance will remain the same: 100 won each additional 144 meters or 35 seconds.

Seoul on June 1 also will do away with the 20 percent surcharge for trips to Uijeongbu and other cities within Gyeonggi province. The 20 percent surcharge for taxis running between midnight and 4 a.m. will remain, the spokesman said.

Fares will not increase for the city’s black deluxe taxis, which have a starting fare of 4,500 won and increase by 200 won each additional 39 seconds or 164 meters of travel.

A city spokesman said Thursday that the city will recommend all taxi drivers wear uniforms by the end of the year.

Allies to practice close air supportOSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — U.S. and South Korean fighter pilots will team up next week to practice flying a close air support mission, officials here said Thursday.

The airmen will take part in a three-day "Buddy Wing" exchange Monday through Wednesday at Osan Air Base, teaming pilots of the Osan-based 51st Fighter Wing’s 25th Fighter Squadron with those of South Korea’s 15th Composite Wing, based at Seoul Air Base.

Four U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II attack planes and two South Korean air force turboprop KA-1 aircraft will fly a mock close air support mission Tuesday near the Demilitarized Zone, said 1st Lt. Naomi C. Evangelista, a 51st Fighter Wing spokeswoman.

The Korean pilots will take the role of forward air controllers, guiding the A-10s to mock enemy ground targets, she said.

The two air forces hold Buddy Wing exchanges several times a year, she said.

Army garrison park to go to the dogsSEOUL — U.S. Army Garrison-Yongsan will hold a grand opening for the Yongsan Dog Park at 1 p.m. Saturday.

The event will be near Gate 17 — the Visitor Center Gate — and will include a ribbon-cutting, cake, and a dog agility obedience demonstration between 1:50 and 3:15 p.m. Booths will feature local vendors, agencies and information.

The fenced dog park is near the Yongsan Pet Care Center, Building S-5256.

For more information, call 738-5254.

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