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Every culture has it’s own set of rules and regulations that are unwritten.  Things that you just don’t do no matter who you are or where your from.  Being in the Republic of Korea, otherwise knows as South Korea or just Korea, is no exception.  Some things you’ll just have to go along with, even though you man not understand it.  Today, we’ll look at one part of Korean life and culture you probably use a lot if you visit or move to Korea.  Today is all about riding the subway.

Why the Subway Is So Important

South Korea is not a large country as far as land space is concerned.  But there are a lot of people living there and needing to get around.  To accommodate this need, Korea has one of the best public transportation systems you can imagine.  This is true not only in Seoul, but in areas outside of Seoul.  Not only is the subway convent, but it is also inexpensive.  For less than the price of a gallon of gas, you can go all over Seoul via the subway.  Taking the subway also is a way to lessen pollution  since it means less cars on the road.  The added bonus is that you can avoid traffic on the streets of Seoul and get to where you are going in a fast manner.  So riding the subway has many benefits.  Now let’s look at these rules for the subway that will make your life easier.

Rule # 1: Watch Where You Sit

The seating near the doors at the end of a subway car are not on a first come first serve basis.  This small section is reserved for the elderly, sick people, pregnant women and those with small children.  Even if no one is sitting in this section, people who are not supposed to be sitting there do not sit there.  This is a way to show respect to those who may have a harder time getting on and off of the subway.  When they are getting on and off of the subway, let them have priority.  The subway waits for no one, so being kind in this matter is very important.

Rule #2: Older Women Run The Subway.  Listen To Them !!!!!!!

So many people hear the stereotype that all Asian women are quiet people who sit there and say nothing.  People who believe that have never been on a Korean subway.  아줌마’s are generally in control on the subway, and you’d better listen to them.  Even if they are doing things that they told you not to do, you need to listen to them.  The most classic example of this is the fact that an 아줌마 will reprimand you for talking too loud, while her and her friends talk as loudly as they want to.  If you are a younger person, just keep quiet.  This is why some joke that they cannot wait until they become an 아줌마, so they can tell everyone what to do and have no consequences for it.

That’s It

These are the only two things you need to remember about being on a Korean subway in order for you to avoid trouble. Sure there are other things like having a T-Money card and apps for checking schedules, but that will be explained later.  For now, this will keep you from getting the stink eye or yelled at on the subway.

I hope this was helpful to you.  Please feel free to share any stories you have about being on the subway in Korea in the comment section below.  And as always, if you have any questions, please feel free to #askthewaygookin.