The 5 Most Interesting People You’ll See on the Seoul Subway

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Subways in any city have their own stories to tell. And if you look deep enough, the Seoul subways have movie-like story lines of heartbreak, passion, struggle and desperation. Read about the interesting people you’ll see while riding the Seoul subway and the story they have to tell!

Note: This post is not a mockery. Seoulistic.com believes Korean people of all situations add to the diversity and beauty of Korean society ;).

 

#1 Newly Single People

Love hurts, and nowhere does it hurt more than Seoul subway stations. If you’re ever hanging out in Seoul at night and planning on taking the subway, you might run into a few newly single Koreans. A common sight seen at Seoul subway stations are couples breaking up. This is mostly for the youngest of Korean couples, but many of them can be seen sitting on chairs in the subway platforms with sad looks on their faces. They let train after train pass by as they go through the process of breaking up. We sure hope you don’t run into a Korean couple breaking up, but if you’re in Seoul long enough, be prepared to see your fair share of Seoul subway station breakups.

 

#2 Feisty Ajeoshis

The Seoul subways are places where people of all different types gather. When different types of ajeoshis (term used for older Korean men) gather on the Seoul subways, lots of interesting things happen. For whatever reason, the Seoul subways are a hotspot for hot headed Korean ajeoshis to get into some interesting altercations. Of course this is not a common occurrence, but when it does happen, you might have front seats to a short 2-5 minute shouting match over nothing important. Sometimes alcohol is involved, but even if it is, these little tiffs usually end in harmless posturing. Most ajeoshis have more bark than bite, and watching dogs bark it out is one of the most interesting things you can see on a Seoul subway!



#3 Weekend Salesmen

Rent can be expensive in Seoul, so that’s why some entrepreneurial Korean men and women make their way to the Seoul subways on weekends to make a living. Instead of paying rent for a super expensive commercial space in Seoul, some light-walleted Korean businessmen and women make the Seoul subways their stores. Many carry a cart around with a large cardboard box filled with their products. Products can range from sewing kits, rubber gloves, mosquito tennis racquets, scarves, blinking keychains, and anything else that’ll earn these hardworking men and women a few thousand won. But the most interesting thing to watch is their salesmenship. Armed with a mic and amp, these Korean entrepreneurs will talk their mouths off trying to see you a pair of space age technology panty hose. Stretchy and unisex? Sold!

 

#4 Strong Ajummas

Although the word ajumma used to be a term that only referred to married women, the term is now more suggestive of women that are no longer young and passive but older, agressive and strong. Of course there are some ajummas that are stay extremely classy and elegant no matter how old they get. But at the other end of the spectrum are the strongest and most aggressive ajummas who can definitely be seen on Seoul subways. You can experience the strength of these women when you get a forearm shove to your lower back, letting you know that she’s getting off. Their strength is also evident when you’re waiting in front of the subway doors to get out and an ajumma thats coming in just walks straight through like you were a sheet of paper. Most of the time these ajumma are rushing trying to grab the first available seat, so remember to move if you’re ever in the way!

 

#5 Blind Beggars

On weekends, the Seoul subways become filled with beggars holding donation buckets. Many have tape players hanging around their necks that play Christian hymns, trying to appeal to Christian sympathetics. But more than the tape players, the most interesting piece of hardware they have are those blind walking sticks. For some reason, many Seoul beggars are blind. They usually sweep the floors with their sticks while walking to make sure they’re not walking into people; but they always make sure to pause with every step – just in case someone wants to donate. Many seoul subway riders claim that these blind Korean beggars are fake. But don’t let that stop you from donating. They’re still in need of some help, aren’t they? :).

 

Don’t forget to read our tips on riding the Seoul subway like a local!
Have you seen any of these interesting people on the Seoul subway? Share your experience with us in the comments!

Keith
Keith
Keith Kim is a Korean-American who has been living in Korea for almost a decade. Being in a unique position as both a Korean and a non-Korean, he's put all his experience and knowledge for surviving in Korea in Survival Korean . Read it to learn how you can survive in Korea. Follow him on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.

9 Comments

  1. Mía says:

    You can find all of them here in Brazil haha
    About the blind beggars. A couple of years ago I was riding the train and there was a blind beggar. It was full of people and was hard to pass through the “crowd”, there was a lot of people sited on the floor. Most interesting is that the supposedly blind man could pass all of them without sweep the floor.

  2. asiye says:

    These are all common in Turkey subways. but not the newly singles. they are in parks in Turkey. But definitely ajummas and ajosshis are totally same.

  3. Jannah says:

    Interesting post! I did come across #2, #3 and #4. The ajummas are the scariest. Come to think of it, they’re almost everywhere, not just on the subway. I’ve met ajummas while in Busan and a couple other rural places, and they’re nowhere as aggressive as Seoul ajummas!

  4. James says:

    This is one of my favorite Seoul subway moments: http://duffx.com/?attachment_id=21

    I always found it hilarious how the subway on a Sunday morning was a mix of church-goers, and people who had stayed out until 6am partying at the clubs.

  5. Jessica says:

    Being blonde in the subway certainly has its disadvantages at times as I always attract attention. I’ve had numerous experiences in the subway, but here are the most memorable.

    A man confessing his love to me- I think there was something wrong with him in the head, but he hurried over and tried to grab me while saying he loved me.

    Being mistaken for a prostitute- There was an ajusshi on the subway trying to talk to me, I was naive and tried to talk in Korean back, until he opened his wallet and tried to give me money.

    Getting kicked in the shin- I was standing listening to my headphones when a korean lady walked over and kicked me hard in the shin before dashing off the train. Shocked, i looked around confused but luckily the other Koreans on the subway had witnesses it and tried to comfort me, motioning that she was crazy. They even offered me a seat

  6. huy says:

    Thumbs up!! I will definitely take a close look on that when I’m staying in seoul!!! 😀 Thanks for mentioning! haha
    It sounds mostly like in my homeland vietnam. Korea and Vietnam are so similar in many ways!

    • katuy says:

      lol… But Hanoi’s and Ho Chi Minh’s subway are still underconstruction. So how do you know that Vietnam and Korea is same ? lol

  7. adele says:

    Have not personally experienced #1 & #2, but yes for #3 – #5. Have vivid memories of #4. Have met my fair share of feisty ahjummas in malls, toilets at the highway rest areas . Another exp which I had was during my first ride on the subway , whereby this ahjumma who looked like she was in her early 50s flung her handbag across towards an empty seat 2-3 meters away from the train door. Real funny lol!

  8. YANG says:

    And then there’s me, who just stares at the subway line map, wondering when I’ll get to my destination.

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