Visiting Korea > Getting Around Seoul

By Subway in Seoul


By Subway in Seoul

The Seoul Subway (Metro) System is efficient, clean, safe and very easy to use. Do note, however, that it can be very crowded at peak times. Trains run at three to seven minute intervals depending on the route and time of day. The cars are heated in the winter and air-conditioned in the summer. Most lines run between approximately 6 AM and 11 PM.

Lines are easy to identify in that they have both a number and a colour – and can be referred to by either. All station entrances, platforms and destinations are color-coded and clearly marked in English. Large subway maps are posted at each station and in each subway car. Although many ex-pats refer to the different line by color (i.e. orange line or blue line), locals go by the numbers (orange = line 3, while blue could mean line 3 or line 1). Each station has a number code (Itaewon Station is 630 – line 6, station 30). There are currently 10 lines operating in the Seoul area, including the Bundang and Incheon lines.

Fares are based on the distance traveled and are determined by zones. A map showing the subway lines and cost per stop from the starting point of the station in which you are standing can be found on the wall near the ticket seller’s booth and/or the ticket vending machines. The base price for zone 1 is W1000 (discounted to W900 for those using a smart card called T-money). It is possible to travel on one-time only tickets that can be purchased from either a ticket seller or vending machine.

Base fare for 10km:
19 years and older  Cash W1350 / Transportation Card W1250
13-18 years old Cash W1350 / Student Transportation Card W720*
7-12 years old  Cash W450 (with or without card)
Children 6 years or younger - Free* (up to 3 children under 6 can travel for free with one adult)

Distance increases:
- For total distances between 10-50 kilometers,W100 won for each additional 5 kilometers
- For total distances exceeding 50 kilometers, W100 for each additional 10 kilometers.
- For journeys outside Seoul, W100 for each additional 5 kilometers and W100 for each additional 10 kilometers if the total trip exceeds 35 kilometers.

* It is sometimes difficult for foreign nationals to get student cards. Visit the Seoul Global Center or one of the Global Villages such as the Itaewon Global Village for assistance.

Schedule: In general, subway trains operate at intervals of two and a half to three minutes during the morning and evening rush hours and at intervals of four to seven minutes during the non-rush hours. Depending on the line, trains begin running between 5:40 and 6:00 to stop between 22:30 and 23:00.

Within the city, the time between each station is about 2 minutes (exception is Line 1, where it can take up to 3 minutes). However, once you're nearer the end of the line where the stops are farther apart, you should add another minute to the time between stations if you're trying to calculate how long it will take you to get to your destination by subway. You can expect that each transfer you have to make will take an additional 5-10 minutes.

Getting on and off: To get on, purchase a magnetized yellow ticket at a vending machine or ticket window at any subway stop if you don’t have a T-money card. Validate the ticket by inserting it and picking it up as you go through the turnstile; make sure you keep it unbent or uncrumpled for use at the destination turnstile that will retain one-way tickets. Stand in line for boarding and board quickly. Stops are announced in Korean and English; markings on the subway map inside each car generally indicate which side the doors open for exiting at each station. If you have a T-money card, you will swipe it on the turnstile and you will see W900 appear in the window as well as your balance. When you get off, you just have to swipe the card on the exiting turnstile and any cost exceeding the initial W900 will be automatically deducted from your balance. If your balance does not cover the cost, you will not be able to exit. Should this happen to you and the wings come up to prevent you exiting, just go to the ticket seller’s booth for help. 

Using the system: If at all possible, avoid rush hours when subways are extremely crowded. Be prepared to stand and be jostled during these times. It is proper to give up a seat for an elderly person. At the ends of each car, there are seats reserved for the elderly, the disabled and pregnant women; be careful not to sit in these special seats – unless you fit into one of those categories. Although this is less and less common, especially in big cities, someone seated may offer (non-verbally) to hold you bags while you stand – not to worry, they are not trying to steal it. Do note, though, that there are pickpockets on the Korean subway systems, just as there are in other countries. The subways stop running shortly after midnight- Vending machines selling drinks are available for the convenience of travelers. Stations and transfer lines are announced in English and Korean.

Transfer cars - if you're going to be transferring to another line, before you board you can determine which car will put you nearest the transfer section of the platform where you will be getting off. There is now a board where you can find which car is the best for a giving transfer point. It will usually be somewhere on the wall separating the track from the platform. Note, though, that other transfering passengers will be trying to get into that car as well since everyone wants to save time.

Information in English is available on www.seoulmetro.co.kr and www.smrt.co.kr/index.jsp
Station Telephone numbers:(generally Korean speakers only)
Line 1 City Hall 752-8155
Line 2 Euljiro 1 ga 778-9335
Line 2 Jamshil 412-7877
Une3Anguk 734-2659
Line 4 Haehwa 743-7732
Line 5 Gwanghwamun 735-5678

English Language Tourist Information Desks are available at a number of stations including Itaewon.

Map: for a map of the Seoul Metro System or to see how to reach a specific destination, go to the interactive map.
Seoul Metro app - free via iTunes

Bus/subway payment card called T-money card is the best way to pay for public transit in Seoul – and it can now be used for taxies as well. The cost of purchasing the regular card (useable on buses and most subway lines) is W1500 and is good for visitors to the city. However, residents are best served by the deluxe card that sells for W2500 but can be used on all bus and subway lines, as well as for taxies and purchases in designated areas, including LG25 convenience stores. Using the T-money card will result in a discount on bus and subway fares and will allow you to transfer without additional charges. With the card, even a combination of five ride via bus or subway with the distance traveled being less than 10 km costs only W900.

T-money cards can be purchased in the subway station or from kiosks located near subway exists as well as at many convenience stores. They can be charged with amounts ranging from W1,000 to W90,000 by the vendors or in the subway station where recharging can be done either by the clerk or by a special recharging machine – instructions in English on the machine. Visitors with a balance on their T-money card can get a refund for the remaining amount from any T-money card vendor (less W1,500 – the purchase price of the card).

Ticket Machines/T-money Reload Machines are an easy and effective way of getting single use tickets and re-loading your T-money card. The machines take cash only (at the moment maximum W10,000 notes). Step-by-step instructions are available on most machines in English.

 

K4E Editor's Note: Korea4Expats.com wants to provide you with as complete and accurate information as possible, so should you find any errors or omissions in the contents above please let us know at info@korea4expats.com

 

 

Last Updated on 2016-02-21


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