Skip to content

Navigating Korean subway an unforgettable journey

Do you know that metro stations in South Korea have “specific” trains? Effectively, I did not. And sadly for me, I realized that whereas caught on one.

Photograph by Subway06, Wikipedia

My husband, Corey, and I had been attempting to get to Pyeongtaek Jije Station, however the subway we had been on raced handed Jije and continued for an additional quarter-hour. We did not have quarter-hour to waste. We had a bullet practice to catch; one which left in half an hour.

As we stood on the incorrect platform within the incorrect metropolis, I began to cry. By miscalculating the practice route, we had turned our early arrival at Jije right into a missed connection to Busan. I felt so defeated. How had been we going to make it again to the proper station on time? Reply: we in all probability weren’t.

We had suitcases slowing us down. On high of that, I used to be sporting a skirt that did not make sprinting to the taxi pick-up zone very sensible. And even as soon as we made it right into a taxi, a automotive can solely go so quick.

When our driver entered Jije Station into Naver Map, I spotted the quarter-hour we had spent zooming farther and farther from Jije on the metro was going to take half-hour of racing by means of site visitors to undo. Our practice to Busan left in 5 minutes. We had been defeated.

I had spent weeks planning this journey, an entire afternoon getting our bullet practice tickets, and a few hours mapping the route from our condominium to Jije Station, which is the place the bullet practice leaves from.

An ‘specific’ tutorial
All that effort appeared like sufficient to get it proper. However I did not know in regards to the specific practice, and it foiled my plans. So, let me take a second to elucidate it for you in order that you do not find yourself crying in the midst of the practice station like me.

To start, most metro traces have an “specific practice” which runs the identical route as the conventional metro practice. Nonetheless, the specific practice stops at considerably fewer stations. In the event you’re utilizing the KakaoMetro app to map your travels, look to see if there’s a grey practice image above your meant vacation spot. If there’s, then you may get on the Line 1 specific practice at Pyeongtaek Station and begin your journey seamlessly. The grey image signifies which stops the specific practice will make.

Moreover, you will know if you happen to’re getting on an specific practice as a result of (1) Naver Map annotates them by placing an “E” subsequent to the title of whichever line you are presupposed to be on, and (2) because the practice approaches the platform, there’s an announcement over the loudspeaker which accurately says “the specific practice to [X] is approaching.”

So yeah, that was embarrassing to be taught. However I am glad that I did.

Additionally, whenever you’re utilizing Naver Map to route your journey, take note of the time the app says your designated practice is meant to be arriving. You may be on the proper platform and it may need indicators which might be pointing in the proper path, but when Naver says your practice is not presupposed to be there till 9:38 and a practice arrives at 9:32, it isn’t your practice . A minimum of, not whenever you’re driving the subway.

Be taught from me. Do not get on an specific practice whenever you’re presupposed to be on the common one. And do not get on the common practice whenever you’re presupposed to be on an specific practice. It would add a ton of time to your journey. I made that mistake too, and it turned a 30-minute return journey into an hour-and-a-half meander by means of Gyeonggido.

Man behind the counter
In any case, again to my story.

I am crying at the back of the taxi. Corey is squeezing my hand and already pondering of completely good options that, in my disappointment, I refuse to think about. And our taxi driver is weaving between buses and supply drivers like we’re in a online game.

Lastly, we arrive at Jije Station. Corey hops out of the automotive with renewed optimism and begins to unload our luggage whereas I end paying our driver. We journey the lengthy escalator up into Jije and stroll over to the ticket counter. I’ve stopped crying at this level.

We hand our ticket printouts to the person working the counter. It is fairly unimaginable to purchase bullet practice tickets on-line with no Korean bank card. And we do not have one. Which implies the one method we may purchase tickets prematurely was to go to the Uncover Seoul workplace on Camp Humphreys and pay in money. That’s the reason we have now printouts as a substitute of an e mail or some form of high-tech ticket. That can be why I used to be very involved about catching this one specific bullet practice to Busan.

I inform the person that we missed our practice. He reads the tickets: “12:50 departure.” He turns to have a look at the massive pink numbers on the digital clock behind him: “13:09.” He kindly confirms that we did, the truth is, miss our practice. We nod, our eyes widening to seem like a pet canine’s.

With no phrase, he pulls up the practice schedule. The subsequent one departs at 13:21. He asks if we need to reschedule our tickets. We nod, our faces vibrant with hopeful smiles.

His laptop display screen is mirrored on a display screen dealing with into the station foyer, so we will see what he is seeing. He clicks on the one ticket that appears to be listed. Miraculously, that ticket is on the following practice to Busan, however there are not any extra tickets listed for the remainder of the day. I preserve pondering that he will break the information to us, however as a substitute he clicks the only ticket to say it after which refreshes the display screen.


He refreshes it once more.

Nothing, once more.

He retains refreshing it, many times and once more, his index finger jamming “enter” on his keyboard in all probability 20 occasions each minute. The time is passing and we’re getting nearer to that 13:21 departure time.

I’m holding my breath, positive that this man goes to surrender on us. However he does not. He calls somebody over to help the individuals who get in line behind us. He will not cease in search of our second ticket.

By no means in my life have I had somebody work so onerous to appropriate my mistake for me. However this man is decided to avoid wasting our weekend.

It is now 13:18, and I’m fairly positive we will have to start out seeing if there are any tickets to Busan for tomorrow. It is too late to cancel the primary night time at our lodge, however that looks as if the least of our considerations proper now. Simply as I am about to voice my give up, a ticket seems. It leaves an hour after the 13:21 practice.

The person asks if we’re okay happening two totally different trains. We nod, our heads transferring so quick that my sun shades fall off the highest of my head.

He smiles, claims the second ticket for us, and begins processing our cost. We resolve Corey will go first. The clock hits 13:20 and he tells Corey to run to the practice. We yell our goodbyes, and I acquire the receipt.

An hour later, as I am standing on the platform ready to board, I see the person who saved our journey. He is serving to folks discover their seats and elevate their luggage up the practice’s steps. With a smile, he walks to me, offers me a playful nudge, and exclaims that now it is my flip to start out the holiday.

I need to repeat, by no means in my life have I had a complete stranger make investments so deeply into serving to me repair my journey mistake. Not a gate agent on the airport or a taxi driver in any metropolis I’ve ever visited. And definitely not somebody at a practice station’s ticket counter.

Final time I used to be in Boston, I had the incorrect tickets for the commuter rail and once I requested for assist getting the proper tickets, the ticket agent instructed me it might “in all probability be fantastic” as she gulped down a Dunkin latte.

For the whole two-hour journey to Busan, I saved my eyes glued to the window and stated little prayers of thankfulness in my head for the Korean ticket agent who bought me a seat, who mounted my mistake, who saved the day.

Touring in Korea may be stuffed with “firsts” and hard-learned classes, however the kindheartedness of Koreans makes it loads simpler to be taught these classes. And when you do, you’ll be able to sit again and luxuriate in picturesque views on the bullet practice to Busan.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *