Thursday, September 24, 2009

South Korea Subway Station Walk Through - Walking from my school to Jonggak Station in Seoul

A couple days ago I took shots of my walk from my school to Jonggno Tower. I was using my Sigma 18-200mm lens, and while it gets pretty wide shots I want to take more pics of the school grounds with my Sigma 10-22mm lens because the wider panoramic style pics will be really nice.

I'm pretty scared of this lane that runs up a steep incline to the school from its main gate--I can't imagine what it's like during the winter with some ice and snow . . . I imagine I'm going to get some really funny pictures of students trying to go up and down this incline.

Just outside the school's main gate are Korean celebrity souvenir shops. I haven't really seen the boys shopping at them much so I think tourists that come to take pictures of the school and get their pic taken standing in front of the school must shop at them. I think my co-teacher told me that the school has had famous TV show scenes filmed on its campus--the names escape me right now.

I've been in Korea long enough now to become desensitized to narrow lanes and cars, trucks, vans, motorcycles zooming up and down them without much room on either side and not much slowing down if any for walking pedestrians . . . these shots give you an idea of how narrow the road is.

About 5 minutes or so from the school the road comes out at an entrance to Anguk station.

I decided to do a series of shots to show people who don't live in Korea, and people thinking about coming to teach and live here, what it's like to walk through a subway station . . .

A lot of the stations have really interesting permanent art work and designs . . .

The yellow line running along the floor is for blind people to navigate their way through the subways.

Stairs, stairs, and more stairs. Taking the subway is a great way to work some exercise into your day-especially on the way out.

The subways recently put in electronic ticket dispensers and card rechargers . . . so the ticket booth clerks have kind of disappeared. You can see some of the dispensers on the right side of this pic.

Turn stile . . .

I finally picked up a T-card key chain that you use to get in and out of the turn stiles--I really like how it attaches to my cell phone and is easy to use.

More stairs . . .

The subway platforms are quite clean, and I feel like lately a lot of the stations seem to have better air conditioning working during the summer heat.

The platforms usually have more people but it's only about 4:20pm here.

There are now plenty of English signs to help you navigate. Expats who have been here a really long time say that things have improved a lot over the years.

I decided to change the white balance setting on my camera to 'fluorescent lighting' to see what kind of effect it would have . . . cool.

I'm really curious what would happen if I used this and spoke in English. I'm pretty sure someone would come and try to help me . . . it just might be a little difficult getting them to understand what I need as my spoken Korean is limited . . .

I think all the stations are slowly being fitted with the glass walls that block off the train and have automatic doors . . . but they haven't installed them here yet.

One thing foreign visitors and teachers have to be careful of when getting on and off of trains is older Koreans--often they believe that they have the senior social rank and therefore should be able to go first, and the younger person/lower social rank should wait and defer to them getting on or off first. At the same time, however, people getting off the train are supposed to have the 'right of way' and people waiting to get on the train should wait out of the way and to the sides of the door--this does not always happen, lol, and visitors and first time living in Korea foreigners have to adjust.

Inside a subway car in Korea you see a lot of interesting aspects of Korean culture. Students talking to each other in very animated and care-free ways; people using cell phones; people playing games and using electronics; people selling things . . . and the list goes on.

I like to use the reflective surfaces in the doors to watch the watchers . . . because I have a shaved head, I'm a large guy, and usually wear my sunglasses when I'm out and about I get a bit of attention . . . so it's always quite entertaining to see how I'm being inspected by whoever is around . . . lol.

Arriving at my stop you can see the glass wall and automatic doors.

There are signs telling you which way to go if you want to transfer to another subway line.

Sometimes you have to walk for a few minutes to get to the other line . . .

It's always interesting to me to see what signs are needed and how they're put together visually. The third sign here is very funny: 3 KOREANS might be able to stand side by side on the escalator, but 3 foreign people--I doubt it, lol. Oh yeah, another important piece of info for this sign is about how you should NEVER stand immobile on the left side of the escalator in a subway station--the left side is the 'speed lane' where people walking really fast up the escalator. If you want to stand still you should be standing on the right side.

A few stations I've been in can be confusing with navigating the signs and finding your way to the exit out or the transfer line platform you're trying to find . . . but if you do get lost there are wall maps, and Koreans generally offer to help a person when they think they look lost.

Heading towards the next waiting area . . .

There are usually vending machines on the subway platforms. Snacks, drinks, coffee . . .

and there are also mini-variety stores and independent snack vendors too.

Now this is more of a 'normal' shot of what it's like waiting for the train . . .

And this shot gives you a better idea of what it's like to be on a busy train during the trip home after work time of day . . .

There are elevators in the subway stations, but they can be hard to find at times.

Once off the train the rush to get out of the subway begins . . .

Getting through the turnstiles on your way out can be . . . "interesting" sometimes. Cards can malfunction, people get confused and try to go through red light stiles, and other problems can happen. If you try to use a card and it won't work look to the far sides of the stiles and there's usually a help button box where you go and wait after pressing the button and someone will come and help you.

Once outside the turn stiles there are sometimes several signs and it can be confusing for a first timer . . . but it really is easy once you've spent a few minutes learning the system.

Here's a shot of those ticket vending machines . . .

And finally . . . I'm back outside and on my way to meet Julianne to go and find something to eat.

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