Let’s Take a Ride in a Korean Subway!

Subways are different from country to country.  I have been in subways in several places, but Korean subways are probably the cleanest, safest, most modern, most reliable, and most foreigner friendly subways in the world. It doesn’t take much to learn how to use them.  Today, I had to ride one because I decided to get the scratches cleaned off my car at the car service because I need to sell it if I want to go to America, and the car service decided to keep my car for several days, so I had to find an alternative way home. My Korean son in law was with me, and he really doesn’t like taxis.  The subway would take him directly to his job, so we decided to take the subway.

I had to leave my car at the car service.
The parking spaces are so small here it seems that people scratch your car easily, and then they just leave. However, I know how important beauty is to Koreans, so I know I need to get things like this cleaned up before I sell my car. I love my car and want to take it to America, but have learned that it doesn’t pass the laws for America, only for Korea.

 In the first picture, we headed off walking down the road. In the second one, it is the entrance to the closest subway.

We go down the escalators into the subway station.

The first picture has the machines where you can buy subway tickets. Just press the screen for the English option.  They are easy to use with touch screens and English.  You can always find convenience stores inside of subway stations, so if you need a drink or a snack before riding, you can get it. The third picture is a makeup shop.  There are all kinds of shops in subway stations. There are different kinds in different subway.

Here is a map of the area around the subway station. If you look close, the names of everything are in both Korean and English.  Yesterday, I blogged about E-Mart, and you can see E-Mart on this map.



Here is a subway map. Look around until you find one. These are very important.  Every line has a different color and number.  The name of every stop is in both Korean and English.  You need this to find which subway you want to ride, how far you want to ride, and where to get off or transfer. Each subway line has a different color, and you can see it on your map.
Here is the gate. Scan your card on the circle on the top of the gate. If you look on the sides of the gates, you can see a number 9 with a brown background. This is the gate to the brown line, and the number of the line is 9.

The subway was just a short walk from the car service. We went down the escalators.  There are a lot of useful things inside the subway stations.  There are maps of the area, subway maps, convenience stories, rest rooms, elevators if you need them, an information office, and machines where you can buy subway tickets,.  If you don’t have a subway ticket, but have a credit card, you can also use your credit card to ride the subway. You don’t have to buy a ticket if you decide to use your credit card. All the maps are both in English and Korean.  Every subway line has a number and a color.  To decide which subway you need to get on, you need first to decide which subway you want to get off at.  You look at the subway map and find the next station going your direction from where you are or the last subway station on that line. When you look at the signs, they will be pointing everywhere. You need to find the one that points to either the next stop the direction you are going or the last subway stop on that line, and ride that subway.

There are signs in Korean and English to tell you where you are going. The names of the next subways stop or the last subway stop on your line will be posted on the signs.
The signs will take you to another escalator or stairs to the platform where the train you want will come.

After you have decided where you want to go and which subway you want to ride, the signs will point you to the gate where you go through. You scan your subway ticket or credit card as you go through.  After that , you will go down another escalator or stairs according to how old the subway stop is where you are. The newer ones have escalators. The old ones have stairs.  If you are at an older one and don’t want to take the stairs, look around there is also an elevator the old people, crippled people, pregnant ladies, and people with luggage take.

If you look above the glass doors along the subway tracks, you will see the name of the station where you are and the next subway station going both directions.  That is how you will know if you are getting on the right subway.  There are maps on the platform too, so if you still don’t know your next station, you can check the map here too. 
There will be an electronic sign you can check to see when your subway will come.  The languages change back and forth between Korean and English.

Most people prefer to just stand at the subway and wait, but if you want to sit while you wait, you will be able to find benches. There are also drink machines and snack machines on the platforms.

Once you get downstairs, you will be on the platform where the train comes.  Look above the doors of the glass walls around the subway tracks. They will tell you the name of the subway station where you are and the next station going each direction.  There could be two subways on your platform, so you have to choose the right one.  You have to know the next stop the direction you want to go to know which subway to get on. If you aren’t sure, there will be a subway map on the platform too. Check it out, and you will know which subway to get on.  As you wait for the next subway, there are drink machines, snack machines, and benches.  There is an electronic sign that is constantly changing and tells you when the next subway will arrive.  You won’t have to wait long.  The subway comes quickly.

When the subway comes, get on the subway and find a seat. If there is no where to sit, grab one of the yellow handles hanging from a metal bar from the ceiling.

Above each door, there will be a sign telling you the name of the subway where you are. They are electronic signs and will change back and forth between Korean and English.
There is always a special seat reserved for crippled, pregnant, old people, or people with a baby to make sure that people who really need a seat bad will always have a seat.
There will be a map of the whole subway system in the subway too, but also in each subway, there is a map of just that subway line.  If you have forgotten the name of the station where you want to get off, you can check these maps while on the subway. This is a map of the brown line, and it also shows which lines intersect the line in case you want to transfer.  All these maps are in both Korean and English. 
Here is another map of just the brown line (line 9) that was in the subway.  If you follow all the signs, you don’t have to be lost.

When the subway arrives, don’t stand right in front of the door.  When the subway stops, people will be stepping off right away, and if you’ ]re right in front of the door, you will be in their way.  After the other people get off, you can get on the subway, and there are seats waiting.  If there are no seats, there are handles up above to hold on to when the subway moves so you won’t fall.  If you are older, pregnant, sick, or have some other problem, there are special seats for people with problems to make sure everyone who needs one can get a seat.  Take a seat.  While you are sitting there, notice that they are giving announcements.  In every subway, they will make announcements at least in Korean and English to tell you where you are. However, some use more languages than that, and the one we rode today was making announcements in Korean, English, Chinese, and Japanese.  If you look up above the door, there is a sign that constantly changes. It will tell you what the name of the stop where you are is, and it will change back and forth between English and Korean.  If you look around on the walls of the inside of the subway, there will be maps.  There will be a map somewhere of the whole subway system if you need it, and all the names will be in Korean and English.  There will also be maps of just the line you are on with all the names in Korean and English.

I wanted to transfer to line 5, so I followed the signs that pointed me that way.
The transfer sign pointed me up an escalator.
At the top of the escalator, the sign pointed me to line five, where I wanted to go.
The signs took me to another gate.  Just follow the signs.  You can’t see the signs over the gate in this picture, but they way you are going to line five.  If you look on the wall behind the gates, you can see a sign pointing to the right saying go that way to line 5. Follow the signs. You will know the line number and color by looking at the subway map. My son in law left me here and went another way to go to work.
I had to scan my card at the gate again.  If you don’t scan your card, the gate closes and doesn’t let you through.
I followed the signs to my subway.
I saw transfer signs on the other side of the hallway that would take other subway riders back to line nine where I came from or to the airport line, If you learn to read the subway map and follow the signs, you will have no problem.

The first sign tells you which way to go for transfers. The second one, you look over the doors to find out where you are and what the next stop is.  The third picture is a subway map. The last one is a map of the area.  There is so much help it is hard to get lost.

When I got off the subway today, I wasn’t finished. I wanted to transfer to another subway to get closer to home.  There are transfer signs everywhere.  Just look for the number and the color of the subway line where you want to go.  You may go up some escalators or stairs, but just keep following those signs.  Before you get to the next subway, there will be another gate where you have to scan your card again.  After you scan your card, just keep following the signs, and they will take you to the subway you want to ride. There are maps everywhere you can check to make sure you are going the right way. If you feel lost, the people at the information booths don’t speak English, but many of the people riding speak English, especially the younger ones.  If you feel the need to ask if you re going the right way or which way to go, just ask a younger person. They will probably speak English and be very happy to help you.

My subway ride is finished.
There were stairs going up from the platform, but if you don’t want to climb them, you can look around for the elevator. Look for the signs.
They are loading a lady in a wheel chair into the elevator.  The subways are handicapped friendly.
The elevator takes you outside.

After I got on my second subway, I rode it to the end of the line, and then I got off.  My subway stop was old, so there were stairs instead of an escalator going out.  However, there was also an elevator.  I scanned my card again as I left through the gate.  If you are using a credit card and don’t scan your card, you could be charged a crazy amount, but there is really no way to mess up because you can’t get out without scanning your card.

The road toward home
This guy has a shop set up along the street. This is normal in Korea.
Where ever you go in Korea, there will be church buildings. When I first came to Korea and saw a church building on every corner, it made me feel very safe.
I went home to a cold drink, an air conditioner, and the green thing is an ice pack.

I walked on down the road toward home.  When I took you on a bus ride, I showed you someone selling fruit by the side of the road.  This time, I went by a man who had basically set up a shop selling things like scissors, dish towels, glasses, etc.  A went by a church building too. Without the church buildings, you would feel like you aren’t in Korea because they are everywhere. I made it home to my air conditioner, a cold drink, and an ice pack. After all, it is the end of June, and it is hot outside here. When your ride a bus or take a subway here, you have to go for a walk. In the winter, you walk in cold, and int he summer, you walk in hot weather.  Without a car in Korea, you are not stranded like in America.  The subways, buses, and taxis here are extremely efficient and affordable.


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