Subway Stations

The Seoul subway changed while I was gone.

There are no ticket selling men anymore. Instead, you buy your plastic ticket from a machine for an extra 500 won and return it at the end of the trip to get the 500 won deposit back. If you want a T-Card, you buy it from a machine. If you want to reload your plastic ticket or T-Card (I’m really not sure what the difference is now that the ticket itself is reloadable), you use a machine.

This made me sad for some reason. One of the first struggles I remember having in Korean was trying to buy a T-card and not realizing that the card itself had a charge and a minimum first time charge. When I finally figured that out, I was so proud of myself. Alas, I suppose new expats will have that experience with a machine. (Or not. I think they’re multi-lingual.)

Man Stepping Off the Subway

Some stops are now announced in Chinese as well as Korean and English. The first time I heard it, I whipped my head around and stared at Good Man. “Did you hear that?”

The fonts for the signs are changing. Dongdaemun Stadium station’s name is changing.

Everyone is supposed to walk on the right side now. Unh huh. If they want that to happen, they need to convert all of the escalators and moving walkways to follow that convention.

Many of the stations now have anti-suicide glass panes up. Apparently these make the stations quieter (and warmer, it seemed to me), but I prefer the old stations because you can peer down the tracks.

Crossed and Uncrossed Legs

Anti-suicide doors can be seen in this photo.

Of course, some things never change. The touts with their wares, the ajummas elbowing their way to their seats, the beggars and homeless men.

Men Examining Dokdo Propaganda in a Subway Station
“Walk on the Right” sign can be seen in this photo.

But more interesting than the changes were the memories. “This is where I bought my first T-Card,” I said to Good Man. That was the first memory, but they kept coming.

“I used to buy my socks here.”

“I remember when they were doing construction here.”

“This is where that chick kept smacking her boyfriend because he was checking me out.” That was after we’d seen Jump!

“I used to walk this way every night after taekwondo.”

“This is where we had to catch a taxi to the National Museum because it was pouring rain.”

I was expecting things to change. I was expecting some things to remain the same. I wasn’t expecting the flood of memories from subway stations!