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Navigating Korea's Subway System: The Ultimate Guide to Prices and Apps

The Korean subway system is one of the most efficient, clean, and affordable means of public transportation in the world. With its efficient and extensive network of trains, it has become one of the most popular ways to travel in Korea. In this blog post, we will cover everything you need to know about using the Korean subway system, including its pricing, ticketing options, how to use it, and the available mobile apps and subway cards.




History of the Korean Subway System

The Korean subway system has a relatively short history, with the first line opened in Seoul in 1974. Since then, the system has expanded rapidly, with new lines and stations added every year. Today, the Korean subway system is one of the most extensive in the world, with over 3,000 km of track and more than 400 stations.



Network

The Korean subway system is made up of several different lines, each of which serves a different area of the country. The major cities of Seoul, Busan, Daegu, Daejeon, Gwangju, and Incheon all have their subway systems. Here is a brief overview of the major subway systems in Korea:

  1. Seoul Subway: The Seoul subway system is the largest and most extensive in Korea, with 22 lines and over 500 stations. The system covers most of the Seoul metropolitan area, including the city center and surrounding suburbs.

  2. Busan Subway: The Busan subway system is the second-largest in Korea, with four lines and over 150 stations. The system covers most of the Busan metropolitan area, including the city center and surrounding suburbs.

  3. Daegu Subway: The Daegu subway system has two lines and over 40 stations. The system covers most of the Daegu metropolitan area, including the city center and surrounding suburbs.

  4. Daejeon Subway: The Daejeon subway system has one line and 22 stations. The system covers most of the Daejeon metropolitan area, including the city center and surrounding suburbs.

  5. Gwangju Subway: The Gwangju subway system has one line and 20 stations. The system covers most of the Gwangju metropolitan area, including the city center and surrounding suburbs.

  6. Incheon Subway: The Incheon subway system has three lines and over 70 stations. The system covers most of the Incheon metropolitan area, including the city center and surrounding suburbs.


Pricing

The pricing for using the Korean subway system varies based on the distance you travel. The price ranges from KRW 1550 (USD 1.17) to KRW 2650 (USD 1.99) per ride. You can save some money if you use a rechargeable transit card like T-money or Cashbee.


Ticketing Options

There are several ways to purchase tickets for the Korean subway system:

  1. Single-Use Ticket: You can buy a single-use ticket at a vending machine at the station. This ticket is valid for one ride and can be used for transfers within 30 minutes of the initial use. The price ranges from KRW 1550 (USD 1.17) to KRW 2650 (USD 1.99) per ride, depending on the distance traveled.

  2. Transit Card: A transit card like T-money or Cashbee can be purchased at vending machines or convenience stores. The card can be recharged with a certain amount of money, and the fare will be deducted from the card as you use the subway. Using a transit card can save you a small amount on the fare. The price ranges from KRW 1550 (USD 1.17) to KRW 2150 (USD 1.62) per ride, depending on the distance traveled.

  3. Mobile Payment: There are some mobile payment apps like Samsung Pay, Apple Pay, and Kakao Pay, which can be used to pay for subway fares. The price ranges from KRW 1550 (USD 1.17) to KRW 2650 (USD 1.99) per ride, depending on the distance traveled.






Subway Card

A subway card is a rechargeable transit card that can be used for the Korean subway system as well as buses and taxis. The most popular subway cards in Korea are T-money and Cashbee.

T-money: T-money is a rechargeable transit card that can be used for the Korean subway system as well as buses, taxis, and even convenience stores. The card can be recharged with a certain amount of money, and the fare will be deducted from the card as you use the subway. The T-money card costs KRW 4000 (USD 3.02), and it can be purchased at vending machines at subway stations or convenience stores. You can also purchase a T-money card with a design that represents your favorite K-pop idol, cartoon character, or tourist attraction.

Cashbee: Cashbee is another rechargeable transit card that can be used for the Korean subway system, buses, taxis, and convenience stores. The Cashbee card costs KRW 5000 (USD 3.77), and it can be purchased at vending machines at subway stations or convenience stores. The Cashbee card is accepted in fewer places than the T-money card, but it offers more benefits such as discounts on purchases made at convenience stores or fast-food chains.



Buy a Subway Card

If you're looking to buy subway cards in Korea, you can purchase them at any subway station ticket booth or vending machine. Here are the steps you can follow:

  1. Go to any subway station in Korea

  2. Look for a ticket booth or vending machine located inside the station

  3. Choose the type of subway card you want to purchase (i.e., single-use ticket, rechargeable card, etc.)

  4. Insert the appropriate amount of money or pay using a credit/debit card

  5. Collect your subway card and any change or receipt if applicable

In Korea, the most common type of subway card is the T-money card, which is a rechargeable card that can also be used for other forms of transportation such as buses and taxis, as well as for making purchases at select convenience stores and vending machines.



You can purchase a T-money card at any subway station in Korea or at convenience stores like 7-Eleven and CU.


Using a Subway Card

Using a subway card is very easy. Simply touch the card to the card reader as you enter and exit the subway station. The fare will be deducted automatically from the card, and the remaining balance will be displayed on the card reader. If you run out of money on your subway card, you can recharge it at vending machines located at subway stations or convenience stores.


Mobile App

The Korean subway system has several mobile apps that can make your subway experience more convenient. Here are some of the most popular mobile apps for the Korean subway system:

  1. Subway Korea: Subway Korea is an official app that provides real-time information on subway schedules, routes, and fares. You can also search for the nearest subway station or get directions to your destination.

  2. KakaoMetro: KakaoMetro is a popular app that provides real-time information on subway schedules, routes, and fares. You can also view a subway map and search for nearby attractions or restaurants.

  3. Naver Map: Naver Map is a popular navigation app that provides real-time information on subway schedules, routes, and fares. You can also view a subway map and search for nearby attractions or restaurants.

  4. Google Maps: Google Maps is a popular navigation app that provides real-time information on subway schedules, routes, and fares. You can also view a subway map and search for nearby attractions or restaurants.



In addition to these mobile apps, some apps can help you navigate the subway system if you don't speak Korean, such as the Subway Korea app, which provides English translations of subway station names and announcements.


Tips

  1. Rush Hour: The subway can get crowded during rush hour, especially in the morning and evening. If you can, try to avoid traveling during these times.

  2. No Eating or Drinking: Eating and drinking are prohibited on the subway.

  3. Mind Your Manners: It is important to be mindful of your manners when using the subway. Give up your seat for elderly or pregnant people, and do not block the doorways.

  4. Keep Your Ticket: You will need to keep your ticket until you exit the station, as you will need it to exit.



Conclusion

The Korean subway system is a convenient and affordable way to travel around Korea. With its extensive network of subway lines and stations, you can easily access all of the major cities and attractions in Korea. There are several ticketing options available, including single-use tickets, transit cards, and mobile payments. The most popular transit cards are T-money and Cashbee, which can be used for not only the subway but also buses and taxis. Mobile apps like Subway Korea, KakaoMetro, Naver Map, and Google Maps can provide real-time information on subway schedules, routes, and fares, making it easier for you to navigate the subway system.



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