Friday, May 04, 2012

Things I Will Miss About Korea #2: The Subway

An Ode to the Seoul Metropolitan Subway System

In London, there is the tube
Edmonton, the LRT
Vancouver has the sky train
And others around the world, too numerous to mention
But here, in the capital of Korea to the south
The jewel of easy travel on rail
That bastion of convenient commutes
The Seoul Metropolitan Subway System.

Sixteen lines, heat in the winter and air-con in the summer
Some days, taking long rides just for relief on a hot summer's day
Clean, usually quiet, the gentle rumbling down the tracks
What better time than to crack open a good book?

Maps and signs in multiple languages ensure you'll never be lost
Doesn't matter if you're Korean or waygookin
Just pay the small fee and you're on your way
Unless the Korean soccer team just played; then, you may have to wait.

One look at the map, and you may be daunted
But have no fear; the subway is easy to navigate
Anywhere you want to go, you can
Although you might need the smart phone subway app.

Fall asleep before you reach your transfer?
Have no fear! They've thought of that
A cute little tune will play to wake you up
Because, after all, everything in Korea must be cute.

Yes, the Seoul subway is a marvel of modern engineering
So many lines, trains, and stations
How can they keep track of it all?
I don't worry about it; I just put my head back and wait
Nowon station is coming up soon.

Apologies for that, it turns out I am not a poet in the slightest!  I do want to say that I've never seen a public transportation infrastructure as advanced and convenient as Seoul's.  The bus system is also very good, but I mostly use the subway so I don't have much experience in that area.  The English signage is definitely a great thing for us English-speaking ex-pats, but even moreso to visitors only in the city for a few days.

To give you an idea about some of the things I mentioned above, I've included a few pictures of the subway system.  Click on the thumbnails for a larger view!

Exits and entrances to the subway stations are clearly marked.

The inside of Digital Media City station.  Notice the signage in Korean and English.

... including English!
A ticketing kiosk.  Service is available
in multiple languages...

After getting a subway card, you merely swipe it to walk through the gates to the platform.

Choose which direction to go using the convenient signs showing the stations in either direction.

English and Korean signage show the direction of travel for the train.

And a status indicator shows the current location of the next train!
Convenient maps show the layout of the station.
And other maps show the points of interest and landmarks in the surrounding neighborhood.
There are many escalators to get to and from the platform from ground level.
I try to use the stairs as much as possible, but not at Itaewon station.  Good God!

EDIT: I meant to include this video.  This is poetry done right!  The following video features a song written and performed by an ex-pat living here in Seoul.  The music you hear at the beginning and a various points in the song is actually the tune that many of the lines play on the train when approaching a transfer station.  Also, this video has actually been featured on monitors in the subway stations!

Here's a link to his YouTube Channel.


GreenFlora47 said...

Having just recently had the opportunity to use the Seoul subway system, I must agree that it is one of the best systems I have ever used.

GreenFlora47 said...

I noticed all the young Korean people totally engrossed with their smart phones during their journey from one station to another. Made me wonder what they did before the smart phone phenomenon.

J.D. Malingerer said...

GreenFlora47// tokyo's subway system is slightly better, but also way more expensive. before the smartphones, there were DMB(digital media broadcasting) phones. everyone was watching their favourite TV program in subway.