I took a very long subway journey, on Saturday.
I left work, at about one pm, and walked to Ilsan Station, which I rarely visit although it's close by, and took the Gyeongui Line (the old commuter line, upgraded to subway system) into Seoul. I have vivid memories of this same "Ilsan Station" when it was just a wooden shack selling tickets next to a pair of railroad tracks, in 1991. I think I waited there for one of the old style commuter trains (diesel locomotives with wooden passenger cars) several times, when on a day leave from my Army installation a few kilometers north at Camp Edwards.
I took this picture of the new station against the slate gray sky. The political banner in the lower right is a "Thank you note" from the winning candidate in the recent presidential election. Do US politicians put out thank you notes? I don't remember. It seems like a very Korean thing.
I had promised to meet my friend Seungbae, who currently lives in San Diego, California (for his work), but who is back in Seoul for one of his periodic visits home, when he gets to see his wife (who doesn't travel with him, because she has her own job). His apartment in Seoul is on the eastern edge of the metropolis, beyond the last, easternmost station on the subway's Line 5 (Sangildong). I live in the far northwest of the metropolis, not far from the westernmost station on Line 3. The Gyeongui line (un-numbered) stretches even farther northwest, basically right to the DMZ and the North Korean border.
Since I was going to meet Seungbae at 5 pm, I transferred to Line 5 but got off downtown, at Gwanghwamun, to stop at the bookstore, because I only needed about 2 hours for the subway journey, so I had an extra 2 hours. I took this picture of Admiral Yi's statue and Bukhansan, the mountains that lurk just north of downtown Seoul. The slate gray sky had turned darker, and just after I took this picture it began pouring rain with an almost monsoonal quality – it's too early for the monsoon, so this was a bit unseasonal.
After my time at the bookstore, I got back on line 5 and went the rest of the way to Sangildong, and met my friend. We took a walk in a rain-soaked park with a small hill in it, very similar in atmosphere to Jeongbalsan, near my home. His neighborhood there is under extensive redevelopment. We went into a mall food court for dinner, and I took a picture of the cluster of cranes visible beyond. Cranes and construction were everywhere, but since this is not greenfield development, the maze-like network of old city streets persist amid the construction. It's disorienting walking around his neighborhood.
We saw his new apartment and his old one, which is slated to be torn down soon for the redevelopment. We talked some more, and then he drove some extra distance to drop me off on the easternmost station on Line 3 (Ogeum Station). We met his wife there (she was coming from some work meeting, I think), so I got to see her too. My trip home was thus a "straight shot" on Line 3 – its full length minus only the two last stations on the western end. So I passed through 42 of 44 stations, and since the total length of Line 3 is 57 kilometers, I must have traversed about 54 km. Sitting on the same train for 2 hours, I watched the many people getting on and off. There were many ajeossis (a term basically meaning middle-aged man), getting off work (since Saturday is most typically a work day for Koreans).
It was a subway odyssey with subway ajeossis. It was a very long day.
[daily log: walking, 7km]