The subway system in Seoul really amazes me having lived in Toronto my whole life. I’ve heard that my home city is currently undergoing an Exreme Makeover: Underground Edition, but as of right now, South Korea’s capital definitely has the Tdot trumped in this area. Here are some of the main advantages I’ve experienced riding the subway in Seoul:
1. Cell phone access! No more dropped calls as soon as you walk underground!
2. The individual cars have accessible doors between them so you can walk from one end of the subway to the other – fun times!
3. There are screens that show the location of all trains as they approach the station so you know exactly when they will arrive!
4. Automatic subway card purchasing/re-loading machines. Convenient and quick (cash only).
5. Sliding glass doors block access to the tracks – this prevents people from falling, being pushed or otherwise getting injured!
6. Whereas the subway stations in Toronto have 1-4 exits leading to the street, stations in Seoul have upwards of 15 different exits! Although at times very confusing, this allows for a wide range of access to many of the streets above.
7. There are 14 separate lines! This means you can take public transport to almost anywhere in the city, including the airport! Very convenient!
I will say though, there are a few disadvantages. The greatest being massive (and I mean MASSIVE) crowds. During rush hour, on the main subway line, I can barely breathe, people are jammed into the cars so tightly. I’m okay with large crowds but on the subway I definitely feel claustrophobic and usually go into my happy place in order to ride it out (literally and figuratively).
I suppose that the crowds say more about the city of Seoul than its subway system, though. After all, Seoul’s population is nearly the same as that of Canada… wow. Another issue is that because there are so many lines, the tracks were built one on top of the other so the subway is often VERY deep underground. This means you sometimes have to walk up hundreds of steps to get to street level. Exhausting, but good for the glutes, I suppose. Thankfully, there are often elevators, but not always!
The last disadvantage I’ve noticed in terms of Seoul’s subway is the advertising. Plastic surgery is rampant in South Korea and these types of ads are plastered everywhere in the stations and the cars. I can only read so many times that surgically creating a double eyelid or a higher nose bridge is the key to life-long happiness and contentment. But, this is a story for another blog post!
Here are some pics to illustrate what I’m talking about! Enjoy! 🙂
(Photo from here)