Sunday, April 02, 2006

My illegal activities

Yesterday, for the first time since I arrived back in Korea a month ago, I went south of the Han River. I'd spent the previous month living a full but somewhat geographically limited existence north of the river, shuttling back and forth between my home neighborhood in Ahyeon and my work neighborhood in Jongno. Yesterday I finally crossed the river again. And I forgot something.

After spending weeks using the subway to crisscross the neighborhoods north of Seoul, it slipped my mind that I might need to pay more money to travel longer distances. And I arrived at Samseong station with only a 900 won ticket rather than the 1000 won ticket I needed, and the turnstiles would not let me pass. The Washington DC Metro has "Exitfare" machines for people in my situation, but Seoul does not. Many stations have windows inside the turnstiles where you can get help from an employee, but Samseong does not. And I thought that the turnstiles rejecting my ticket might bring a subway employee running, but it did not. Anyone who has been to Samseong on a weekend (it's the station that services the whole COEX area) knows that it's as crowded with people as any Seoul subway station, ever.

So with no other convenient option, I made like a 14-year-old criminal and ducked under the turnstile. Nobody seemed to care. I approached the ticket windows ready to pay the difference on my ticket, but they were being mobbed by people and I was beginning to feel kind of silly. So I went on my way, 100 won richer than I would have been (that's about a dime in American money).

Except I still have a painful bump on my knee from ducking under the turnstile. Payback by the universe for depriving the Metro Authority of 100 won, I suppose.

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