Welcome to the world of Mr. Kim Kyo-chul and his “Tin Taxi.” From the outside, the taxi is an inconspicuous white, like many other taxis in Seoul. Inside, it’s an explosion of silver. Thousands of cans cover the surface: Can bottoms line the ceiling and walls, strings of can openers are draped on the seats, and can leaves and flowers hang from the ceiling. There are even shaking head dolls made out of cans, and ornaments stuck to the steering wheel.
Compared to the fabulously flamboyant interior, Mr. Kim seemed, at first, comparatively silent. “Where to?” He answered tonelessly, and started driving without another word when I told him my destination. Finally, not able to hold back my curiosity, I started showering him with questions. WHAT? WHY? HOW?
“I haven’t done much with my life,” Mr. Kim said, saying that he only graduated from middle school and has been a taxi driver for most of his life, since 1986. He wanted to find meaning, and create something out of his time. In came the cans. Four years ago, he started fiddling around with them. The more he made, the more ideas came to his head. “I love that something remains.”
“Driving a taxi is like being a frog inside a well,” he said. “You are alone, cut off from others. Inside the taxi, the person disappears.” Were cans a way for him to reach out to the world? To reassert the person inside himself? He laughed. “Well, that’s how you interpret it.”
Cover Image: The strangest taxi in Seoul (Haeryun Kang/Korea Exposé)