The Korea Herald


[Survive & Thrive] Amenities, customs unique to public spaces in S. Korea

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : June 27, 2023 - 15:58

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Among the more tech-savvy and rapidly changing countries in the world, South Korea in recent years has adopted various technologies and amenities in public spaces or for commuters that are hard to find anywhere else.

Priority seats for the pregnant

A number of mass transit systems across the world have priority seats for people whose mobility is temporarily or permanently impaired, namely the elderly, those with disabilities, the injured or pregnant women. While it is generally accepted that pregnant women can use these priority seats, South Korean public transportation systems have a separate priority seat exclusively for the pregnant.

These seats are marked pink and have various symbols indicating pregnancy on subways and buses.

For women in the early stages of pregnancy, when it may not be readily apparent at first glance, the state issues a pink pregnancy badge via public health service centers across the country, free of charge. These badges can also be obtained at information centers in major subway stations in Seoul, but the applicant must have medical documents proving she is pregnant.

Commuter-friendly bus stops, cool crosswalks

South Korean summers and winters can be extremely harsh. To cater to the needs of bus commuters, some bus stops in major cities such as Seoul and Busan have enclosed waiting areas with air conditioning and heating systems.

These shelters also feature a smart display system that shows the estimated arrival times of buses, providing passengers with information about their route and how many stops away they are.

In addition, at major crosswalks, large parasols have been installed to provide protection from the intense sunlight during the summer months. However, these parasols are not very effective at keeping pedestrians dry during rainy weather, as they are not waterproof.

Display panels for bathrooms, express buses

This relatively new feature can be found mostly at expressway rest stops across the country. A display panel attached outside bathrooms shows which bathroom stalls are vacant and in use, or under repair, along with information about other facilities in the vicinity.

Most express buses also have monitors that show which seats are occupied, which are reserved and which are vacant.

Express buses in Korea have also adopted a system where passengers can scan their ticket's QR code instead of giving a paper ticket to the conductor.