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Seoul's Movie Train

Taking the Seoul subway train as a commuter can be a really tiring daily routine if you have to take it for more than half an hour. However, lucky travelers on the orange, number three subway line in Seoul can meet a cinema train ten times a day until July this year. A metro train decorated with huge black and white images of famous Korean and Hollywood actors captures the eyes of the subway riders as it takes them to their destinations in an underground tour that costs less than a dollar.
The special train began service on March 30 and the initial plan was to have it run for two months till May 30, but the program has now been extended for another two months.

There are small video monitors hung on the ceiling running short two-minute advertisements or news bulletins so do not have high hopes that you will be able to enjoy a 90-minute Korean movie for free. However, young passengers seemed to be disinterested in the movie promotions, the recorded greetings of the culture and tourism minister Kim Han-gill, and even to the images of actors announcing the name of the next stop. All their attention were swayed towards the decorations of the train - Some energetic people busily ran from one carriage to the next so that they could take a good look at all of the ten before they reached their destination.

When can you meet this train on Line 3? During the week, the special train leaves Suseo Station and heads north at 8:22am, 11:40am, 1:52pm, 4:04pm and 6:18pm, passing by Jongno 3 ga at 9:01am, 12:19pm, 2:31pm, 4:43pm and 6:57pm respectively. The first and last northbound train continues service all the way to Daehwa Station in Ilsan (arriving at 9:52am and 7:48pm), but the three running in between finish their service at Gupabal Station (12:38pm, 2:50pm and 5:02pm). The southbound trains leave Daehwa at 10:03am, Gupabal at 12:46pm, 2:58pm and 5:12pm, and Daehwa at 7:58pm. On Saturdays, the northbound train runs twelve times a day, or six times in each direction, departing Suseo at 7:49am, 10:04am, 12:22pm, 2:34pm, 5:52pm and 8:04pm, passing Jongno 3 ga at 8:28am, 10:43am, 1:03pm, 3:13pm, 4:31pm and 8:43pm, all ending at Gupabal (except for the fourth train) at 8:47am, 11:02am, 1:20pm, 4:04pm (at Daehwa), 6:50pm and 9:02pm.

On Sundays and holidays, the train runs ten times a day, leaving Suseo at 8:40am, 10:58am, 2:28pm, 4:48pm and 8:16pm, passing Jongno 3 ga at 9:19am, 11:37am, 3:07pm, 5:25pm and 8:55pm, arriving at 9:38am (at Gupabal), 12:28pm (Daehwa), 3:26pm (Gupabal), 6:16pm (Daehwa) and 9:14pm (Gupabal). The southbound trains leave Gupabal or Daehwa about eight minutes after the trains arrive there and pass Jongno 3 ga at 10:05am, 1:36pm, 3:53pm, 7:23pm, and 9:41pm. For a more detailed timetable of the movie trains passing by each station, although the name of the stations are in Korean, refer to the related homepage of one of the organizers of the movie train, cinema news magazine Cinebus, at: http://cinebus.com/cinetrain/introduction/introduction05.htm
for week days,
for Saturdays, and
for Sundays and holidays.

The train was designed like a silver bullet train covered with images of American movie stars in the 1950s, such as Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, and Charlie Chaplin on the outside of the train. Each of the ten carriages is decorated differently, based on a specific genre of the film industry. Small monitors are hanging from the roofs and show short movie trailers and news bulletins. One thing that makes the atmosphere quite uncomfortable within the train, however, is the fact that all the windows are covered to avoid any admittance of light into the carriages, maybe in an effort to make the inside space of the train resemble a moving theatre.

The ceiling of the train is also pasted with film titles of Korean movies cut out from the posters promoting their works. The Korean flag is also added as though to emphasize the fact that the films are domestic films. One inconvenience of getting on the movie train is that it is dark inside the train and this prevents people from conducting their habitual daily businesses that they take care of during their journey on the subway, such as reading newspapers, books, or magazines. Or without enough light, the writer for instance will not be able to fulfill one of her most crucial duties that she takes care of while commuting - redoing one's own makeup!

(Written by Jinna Park, Photos by Namkyu Lee)


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