When I first arrived to Seoul, I was absolutely terrified of the subway system. Two weeks later of course, I realize how ridiculous that was. Seoul has one of the best subway systems I have ever experienced during my travels. If you miss a train, the next one comes in five minutes or less. There are very clear maps in both Korean and English to help and the locals are very helpful. The subway stations here are very clean, and very, very, different than those we use in Philadelphia.
The subway station is very intensive, and there’s around 291 stations in Seoul. There’s about 22 different lines you can take, so depending on where you’re going, or where you’re coming from, you’ll probably need to transfer. Transferring is really easy as there’s extremely specific signs as to where to go.
When choosing which side of the platform to wait on, it’s important to remember that unlike the lines in Philadelphia, the sign will just mention one of the stops that the line will stop at (for direction) but not the last stop that the train stops at, so make sure you double check on the map that that is where you’re going.
To take the subway, you need a T-money card. You can get them at any convenience store, and they come in all different colors and images and you can even get some that have your picture on it if you really wanted! You just buy one at the convenience store and put some money on it, but after that you’ll need to reload it in the subway station, which is cash only.
The fares for the subway vary. If you have the t-money card, the flat rate is 1,250 (about $1 USD) won for 30 km. After that it’s about 100 (around $0.08 USD) won for every 5 kilometers you go.
The subway system also has a relatively strict schedule in which it stops running at midnight, and begins again at 5:30 AM. If you plan on being out later than midnight, make sure you download kakao taxi, or have your address written in Korean in hand when you hail a taxi.
Another valuable resource is the app called Subway Korea, where you put in which station you are leaving from, and which station you are arriving at, and the app will generate exactly how to get there, which transfer to take, down to which door to walk out of. This has been extremely helpful to me, and now I have no problem operating the Seoul subway system by myself.
Don’t be afraid of the subway, especially in Seoul, which is considered one of the best in the world. In no time, you’ll feel confident to use it by yourself.