Thursday, 22 October 2015

Please Take Your Seat!

         (Seats reserved for the elderly,                      pregnant women, the disabled 
                and the injured)

In all Seoul buses and subway trains, there are seats reserved for pregnant women, disabled or injured persons, and senior citizens. 

But in the news last week, a pregnant woman riding the Seoul subway claimed one of those seats, but was accosted by an older Korean man because he said she was too young to be sitting there. Fearing the safety of her unborn child, she moved away.

And yesterday, when I took the subway on my way to Myeongdong, I noticed a pregnant woman enter the train and took a seat at that reserved spot. But after a few seconds, she stood up and moved to join the other passengers at the regular seats.

I then wondered, was she also afraid that the same thing could happen to her? That an angry and older Korean man would kick her out of her seat?

A few years ago, I asked one of my colleagues in the office who was pregnant at that time on whether some people ever gave up a seat for her in the subway. She said 'no', and just shook her head.

But even in the buses, those seats aren't exactly given up for those entitled to them. Some young passengers would either pretend to be sleeping or pretend to be busy with their smartphones, or would simply ignore an elderly standing next to them. Sometimes, even a mom with a baby getting into the bus would hardly be noticed by those sitting on those seats. According to locals I asked, the signage on those seats is just...a suggestion. WTF?

This means passenger education is needed to teach the riding public about the etiquette to be observed on the bus and in the trains in Seoul.

And how about the etiquette on the planes? Let's not even go there. That's an entirely different story. Ha-ha-ha!

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