Public transportation is unavoidable in South Korea, especially if you live in the heart of the city. More than 60% of adults use the subway as their prime method of transportation. Also referred to as “지옥철” (jiokcheol, Hell Train), the Korean subway never fails to live up to its name — beware of rush hour.
We all have places to go and times to meet, but that does not excuse us from being civil on the metro. From the exit to the platform, from the platform to the silver seats, there are etiquettes that must be practiced and enforced.
For what reason? Honestly, national peace. It’s a war down there.
So, these are the 10 commandments of subway etiquette to think about when moving from car to car, pushing from seat to seat, rushing from exit to exit. Don’t forget to be considerate of your surroundings and aware of the different compartments that exist within the underground city.
10. Don’t lay down on subway seats or leave children unattended.
Unattended children sometimes take up an entire row of seats to themselves. Not only are they loud, but they skip around. Not the best thing to see first thing in the morning.
Another thing that’s not the best thing to end the day with is drunk passengers taking up an entire side of the car to themselves. Don’t be that person.
9. Make 2-4 straight lines when waiting for a subway in a busy stop.
Yeah, let’s try to enter and exit in order, too. We don’t want any unnecessary accidents.
8. Enter the subway after all exiting passengers have left.
Let them all leave, and then enter. That makes it easier for everyone else on the platform. Don’t storm in.
7. No drinks or food allowed.
Self-explanatory. Although the subway is stable, it does shake at times. Open coffee cups may spill on the person next to you, and food from home may stink up the car.
6. When moving between subway cars, make sure to close doors in between.
5. No pets allowed.
There was an actual incident where a lady did not clean up after her dog in the subway. That’s definitely something nobody wants.
4. Fold newspapers in half, and don’t cross or spread legs.
3. Make sure to lower earphone and speaking volume.
This is a movie, guys. She is not going to talk to you because you have great taste in music. She will move to the next seat.
2. Prioritize specially designated seats for appropriate audience, and lessen use of elevators.
It’s important to leave specially designated seats empty at all times. This includes those isolated seats on the end of the car. Platform elevators are also reserved for people in wheelchairs, bikes, or any other special condition (usually related to health).
1. Set your phone on vibrate and use indoor voices.
The subway is really quiet, so your private conversation’s are actually very public. Let’s keep them short and concise.
- Absolutely no smoking.
- Bike users, rides are not allowed on the subway during 7am-10am and 5pm-8pm.
- Make sure to pay for every single subway ride. (TMoney is very useful!)
- Walk to the right. Leave the lefts for others.
- Don’t buy random shit random people sell in the cars.
- If you have a big backpack, wear it on your front to provide space for people around you.
Want to find a new place to eat? A service in English that's been too hard to find? Check out the 10 Directory and come find what you're looking for!