Saturday, September 20, 2008

Thank Goodness!

Thank goodness I live in Pusan and use the Pusan Subway System. I went to Seoul for a few days this week and used the subway there. It was a mob scene. Pusan has only three lines, but Seoul has 10. In Pusan, there are usually seats, and if not, then there are not too many people standing. In Seoul, there were times when there were more people standing than there were sitting. The people standing were packed in like sardines. If you want a seat, you have to be aggressive when one becomes available, or else somebody else will take it. People push and shove in the subway and nobody thinks anything of it because they do not know each other and so they do not have to be polite. If only that were the norm in American culture; many times in public I've wanted to shove people out of the way but did not. One time, in Dear Abby, somebody wrote in complaining that in New York, men do not give up their seats for women and some even run ahead to get a seat before the women do. Here, people give up their seats for old people usually. Men will stand so that their wife or girlfriend can sit if there is only one available seat. It doesn't seem like women expect men to give up their seats, going back to the fact that they are strangers and there is no obligation to be polite. In Pusan, people get on as other people are getting off. In Seoul, it really is impossible because there are so many people getting off, and it is necessary to empty some space before other people can get on. There are so many people on the subways. Friday night, I was waiting for the subway and there were two old men fighting. They were a little far away, but I could hear them yelling at each other, pushing, and one even kicked the other! They got on the subway, and they came to the car where I was and sat across from me. During the ride, they were talking and holding hands and even hugged each other goodbye! (More often than not, two same-sex people holding hands are friends and nothing more.)

No comments: