Adventures in East Asia

Seoul Metro and People Selling Stuff

On one of our first metro rides in Seoul we were surprised to see and hear someone stand in the middle of the carriage and make an announcement in Korean whilst all the other passengers ignored him. Turns out he was selling something.


My only experience of anything similar is of beggars on London's tubes and trains, apologising and making self-deprecating jokes, whilst attempting to work passenger's philanthropic nerves.

In Seoul, it seemed to be quite an ordinary thing to do, certainly something we saw regularly throughout our time in the South Korean city. Passengers ignored the vendor if they simply weren't interested, but on more than one occasion, we did see someone buy something.

The goods that we saw sold consisted of umbrellas, compact-packed rain coats, CD's (with sample music blaring from a player) and an assortment of plastic devices. We never understood anything that was being said.

On other occasions, there were also leaflet distributors who passed quickly down a carriage dispensing leaflets onto the laps of seated passengers. As a recipient, I quietly folded the page, only for the distributor to quickly pass back down again to retrieve all the leaflets before the train reached the next station.

I guessed that the Korean type offered a service or product of some type which if you were interested in, you could talk to the distributor about.

One distributor we saw was a little slower than the rest, only because he retrieved the leaflets gently and actually bent to bow his head lower than the passengers each time. An achievement since he did this standing and wasn't exactly short himself.

Seoul's metro station platforms also sell stuff via the conventional booths common in most cities. The ones we saw stocked these kinds of confectionary below.


The sides of the clear booth were covered with the day's newspaper front pages.


The booth is the vendor's home for the day as he leaves his slippers outside his door and makes himself at home.


This entry posted in : Culture. South Korea.

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