I guess it's all about survival.
All these years that I have been riding Seoul's subway, I have seen people selling music CDs, winter gloves, towels and everything else to make money (even kitchenware!).
And if begging is one way to make money, I have also seen these supposedly disabled persons distributing among passengers leaflets which explained their conditions and plea for financial help. A disabled person would place these leaflets one by one on the laps of the seated passengers making one go on one side, then make his way back on the other.
And passengers who were touched by the plea would give (usually a thousand Korean won paper bill) as the disabled took the leaflets back.
On some occasions, a blind person would way make his or her way through the train with the left hand holding an empty plastic container for the alms, while the right held the walking stick, and around the neck is a small music box playing an instrumental Korean song announcing the blind person's presence, making everybody else give way.
As I said, it's all about survival. And these subway trains full of people, captive in between stops, are the best locations to sell, or perhaps beg. The passenger traffic is constantly moving, demographic varied and characters diverse.
And one time, as I was riding Seoul Subway's Line 2, another very enterprising merchant was selling his shoeshine thingy, and to prove its usefulness, he shined some passengers' shoes! On the spot! How creative!
How I wish I was wearing my black shoes. I could have had a shoeshine for free! Ha-ha-ha! (I was wearing my Nikes that day).
And his creativity paid off. He was able to sell a few of his gadgets between Sadang and Gangnam Stations. He would definitely sell more. There were a lot of dirty shoes on the train that day. Ha-ha-ha!
So, have you bought anything from these entrepreneurs in the Seoul subway?