Osan taxi driver facing action for vulgar videos
Stars and Stripes March 29, 2008
OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — AAFES officials have taken disciplinary action against an Osan Air Base cab driver who appears in an online video making sexual comments and gestures and shouting profanity out the window while driving on base.
The driver, Lee Keun-rok, 48, also appears in a second video in which he jokes with passengers about using cocaine and heroin.
Each YouTube video was filmed inside a moving taxi on base by American passengers who laughingly encourage Lee’s statements.
Lee is a driver with the Hae Gang taxi service, which operates cabs on Osan Air Base under contract with the Army and Air Force Exchange Service.
He has been placed on administrative leave pending further investigation, AAFES spokesman Master Sgt. Donovan K. Potter said.
AAFES said in an e-mail response to Stars and Stripes that it “strives to provide our taxi customers with a safe, quality experience, which is clearly not demonstrated on the videos in question.”
One video, titled “Korea Taxi Driver — ‘Playboy,’ Osan AB, Korea,” was added to YouTube on Jan. 3, according to information posted on the Web page.
At several points in the video when Lee shouts out the window, he appears to be shouting at passers-by.
Interviewed Wednesday, Lee repeatedly insisted there were no people on the street when he shouted his statements.
Various details within the video, however, contradict his claim. At one point — 1:32 minutes into the video — someone yells back an answer to Lee.
A second video, “Playboy the livest cabbie at Osan,” was added to YouTube on Jan. 27.
When a passenger asks if he’s used cocaine, Lee says that he will perhaps use cocaine, heroin and other substances.
In Wednesday’s interview, Lee said through an interpreter that he has never taken illicit drugs, would not do so, and that his comments in both videos were purely for the amusement of his passengers.
Lee said servicemembers taught him American profanity and have often encouraged him to use it when they’re passengers in his cab. He said he has complied to make them happy and in hopes of a bigger tip.
Chong Son-kyong, Hae Kang’s taxi manager for Osan, said Wednesday that Lee was a “good driver” and had not been the subject of any customer complaints.
But Chong said the use of the language in the video was inappropriate.
If a woman was walking on street and heard that language, Chong said, “that’s no good.”
Lee said he would hereafter refrain from shouting vulgarities from his taxi.
Senior leaders of Osan’s 51st Fighter Wing said they will monitor AAFES handling of the incident.
“The 51st Fighter Wing had not heard of this particular driver before this inquiry, nor seen any video footage of him,” according to an e-mail from Wing spokesman Capt. John W. Ross.
Base authorties will review the videos to determine if any action is warranted against airmen in the videos, according to the statement.
“However, this may serve as a good example to our people about the consequences of posting videos on the Internet,” according to the statement. “If you’re doing something you don’t want your commanders to know about, taking video itself is a bad idea, but posting it on You Tube can have serious results for everyone involved.”
In 2007, two Kunsan Air Base airmen were jailed and given bad-conduct discharges and a third was sentenced to 30 days in jail after a videotape showing them throwing a frog into an F-16 jet engine was published on a MySpace.com page.
When the video was discovered, Kunsan grounded its 41-jet fleet to check all engines for damage and restore confidence in their maintainers, officials said.
The YouTube videos