Traveling on trains underground wasn’t new to me when I arrived in Seoul as I had lived in London for 14 years before coming here. I used the Underground also known as the Tube in London to get to and from work daily so I thought that the Seoul subway would be similar.
In many ways it is similar of course – it is a relatively quick way to get to and from places and you can get almost anywhere in the city limits. The Seoul subway does trump the London equivalent though in price and cleanliness.
Another thing that the Seoul subway has over the London Underground that I have noticed are some unique characters described in this post (this is a light hearted look at life on the subway).
Here are the “5 Seoul Subway Characters”
- Coming in at number 5 are ‘The Sleeper’
It is usually late at night or early in the morning when you will meet ‘The Sleeper’. These people can obviously sleep anywhere and if you happen to be sitting next to them you have to regularly give them a gentle shoulder nudge.
If you don’t do the shoulder nudge then they could end up in your lap.
One of the most amazing things about ‘The Sleeper’ is that many of them have the ability to suddenly wake up at their station. The other somewhat humorous thing about ‘The Sleeper’ is the fact that they go into a deep sleep and dream, this is apparent when they suddenly jerk themselves awake and are clearly embarrassed as they then get unwanted attention.
- Coming in at number 4 is ‘The Reader’
‘The Reader’ is often a selfish character.
You don’t see many people reading newspapers now but on occasion ‘The Reader’ will be around during rush hour and they insist on holding the paper open despite the lack of room.
If ‘The Reader’ is sitting down perhaps reading from their smart phone, tablet or newspaper they may not be paying much attention to their reading material but then an older person gets on or even a pregnant woman then suddenly they are intently reading. They don’t want to give up their seat so they PRETEND to read.
- Coming in at number 3 is ‘The Athlete’
‘The Athlete’ is an extraordinary character because they have a hidden talent called speed and are masters of disguise.
Try to picture the situation; it is rush hour and people are waiting to get on the next subway train. An elderly person (usually female) just outside your vision slowly moves along the platform seemingly at a snail’s pace stopping to take breath now and again.
The train pulls in and you are at the front of the queue or close and you see the much sought after empty seat, the doors slowly begin to open and the anticipation is painful as you desperately want that seat.
As you step onto the train an immense force hits you almost knocking you over, it’s not a 300lb gorilla but a frail old woman moving at lightning speed toward the empty seat. And to add insult to injury as her bum settles into what you thought was rightfully yours a little giggle is heard coming from her.
- Coming in at number 2 are ‘The Gamer’
‘The Gamer’ is usually non-aggressive toward other travelers but on occasion the game becomes reality. Whether it’s firing birds into structures, creating a line of 4 cute animals or destroying the latest alien invaders never and I mean never disturb ‘The Gamer’. Us lesser travelers don’t understand the concept of getting to the next level, beating level boss or reaching a high score.
If ‘The Gamer’ is disturbed then the cursed look will fall upon you and your day will be damned. There is a second ‘Gamer’ who insists on having every sound of their game heard by others which often makes you want to grab their device and throw it to the ground.
- Holding the number one position this week is ‘The Wall’
‘The Wall’ is my personal number one irritant on the subway but also for lifts (elevators).
This doesn’t have to be when the subway is busy either it can even be in the middle of the day when everybody can get a seat.
The train is beginning to pull into your station so you go to the doors and you probably stand toward the center (the most logical place to be) waiting for the train to stop and the doors to open.
Just before the train stops you notice someone on the platform waiting to get on but they aren’t standing where they should be. They are not on the little feet on the ground, you know the painted feet on the platform positioned either side of the doors.
No, they are standing in the middle so when the doors open they are right in front of you and they either don’t move – you can’t get off. Or they just walk straight into you.
Although this irritates the hell out of me I do usually move and just mutter under my breadth. But I must confess that sometimes I shoulder barge and become the steamroller that takes down the wall much to the surprise of ‘The Wall’.
But I walk away satisfied.
Those are the five Seoul subway characters, perhaps you have similar types on your subway.
Remember wherever you are in the world and whatever subway system you use always be pleasant to your fellow commuter.