How to recover an item lost in a cab in Korea

* This post has nothing to do with any of my books or writing. I only thought it might be helpful for some people, especially those who can’t read Korean and don’t have access to Korean resources. If you want, you can skip ahead to the informative part at the end.

The background

I lost my hat last week. I left it in a cab, mostly because I was fairly drunk and dead tired. It was three in the morning. I’ve lost my fair share of stuff in cabs—countless gloves, scarves, umbrellas, and two phones—for the same reason and usually around the same time of night. I’m not going to give up drinking so what I learned this past week is invaluable for someone like me.

Normally, I don’t care much about losing things. I’m also excessively absentminded, and it comes along with the territory. But it was my favorite hat. Some guys collect sneakers; I care about hats. It was also a gift from my buddy Mark, who no longer lives in Korea, and it’s a Chicago Bears hat. The Bears haven’t been popular with anyone for a long while, but I grew up in Chicago and the Bears are my team, even if they can’t get their shit together. You can find a million Yankees hats in Seoul, but even specialty stores rarely have a decent selection of Bears hats.

I shouldn’t have been drinking—my doctor says I shouldn’t for another two weeks—but my friend Dennis was leaving Asia and there was no way I wasn’t going to drink. After some really nice Han-u for dinner, we ended up heading out to Itaewon to get a table at Glam. It’s definitely not my kind of scene—I prefer 2,500 won beers at Bonggu Beer—and the asshole bouncers at Glam give me a hard time every single damn time. I’m not bougie enough for their establishment, and they have so many damn rules. They wouldn’t even let me walk in with my cane when I was recovering from my motorcycle accident. This time, it was my hat and backpack. I had to take off my hat and backpack and carry them in my hands to get in.

We had already had three bottles of wine at dinner, but getting a table means buying bottles, so we had vodka, champagne, a shooter in lieu of ordering food, and whisky from my flask. When it was time to call it a night, I was halfway down the stairs when I remembered that I had left my hat inside. I ran back in and got it (but couldn’t put it on), left, and jumped in a cab. It was only the next morning that I realized I had left my hat in the cab. I was too hung over to do anything about it, so I didn’t get around to doing anything until Monday.

The Steps

Anyway, here’s what you need to do if you’ve left something in a cab. This is only possible if you paid with a credit card (or check card). If you paid with cash and didn’t use a service like KakaoTaxi, you’re out of luck. (If you used KakaoTaxi, you can look up the license plate number on the app, but it’d take some detective work to track down the cab company and find the driver.)

Some of these steps might be redundant, but these are the steps that I found on Naver and followed to get my hat back.

  1. Find the transaction information. If you get a text whenever you use your card, all of the necessary information is there. You need the date, time, and amount of the transaction.
  2. Call the customer service number of the bank/credit card company. In my case, I bank with Shinhan, and the Shinhan Card (not Shinhan Bank) customer service number is 1544-7000. The operator gave me the customer service number of T-money Taxi and the license plate number of the cab.
  3. Call taxi customer service number to get the cab company information. The operator gave me the phone number of the cab company and the license plate number of the cab (again).
  4. Call the cab company and they will give you the taxi driver’s cell phone number. I called the driver, but it turns out he left my hat at the company. I called the company back, and they confirmed that they had my hat. I just had to provide information to prove it was mine (color and logo).
  5. Work out how to get your item back. If you don’t mind paying some money, you can probably negotiate with the driver to have him/her drop off your item when they are in the neighborhood, but the weather was nice enough to take out the bike to the Banghwa-dong, near Gimpo International Airport, and I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of talking to anyone on the phone anymore and I’m cheap and didn’t want to remunerate the driver for his troubles.

If you can’t speak Korean, you’ll have to recruit the aid of a Korean speaker to get you through the steps. Even though I’m not bad at Korean, I still had the owner of the coffee shop I frequent make the calls for me. I don’t like talking on the phone.


This is the closest picture I could find on the Internet, but my hat has midnight blue stitching instead of gray. While looking for the picture, I found another nice hat. I’m going to try and see if any of my students that are visiting Chicago this year can pick it up for me.


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2 Responses to How to recover an item lost in a cab in Korea

  1. bighominid says:

    All’s well that ends well. This is good information for those of us who cab a lot. Unfortunately, I most often use cash, but on occasion, I’ve been known to whip out the plastic, so I’ll likely bookmark this post.

    Had to look “bougie” up in Urban Dictionary. Une bougie is French for a candle or a spark plug, which threw me off, but I should have realized it had to do with the bourgeoisie.

    I’d say, “Stop drinking so fucking much!”—but you already made clear in your post that you’re not about to change. Please don’t die an untimely death. At least get that novel out of your system, watch it become a bestseller, and then you can die anytime you want.


    • Young says:

      I definitely recommend using your card more unless you’re worried about the government and bank knowing how you’re spending your money. I think it also affects your tax filing, but you’d have to ask someone more knowledgeable about that.


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