Jeffrey Miller

A Writer's Life

Tag: subway

In the Seoul Metro

In the Seoul Metro


I’ve seen your tired souls

riding under the city

lost in the drowsiness

of morning commutes.

And when I’ve seen

all your lonely faces

reflected in glass

I think of Pound

and his metro station—

with faces like petals

on a black bough.

But this literary allusion

is quickly shattered

during rush hour

when the subway

screeches into station

and push becomes shove

as white-gloved

subway push men

pack commuters into

waiting metal cars.

A random act of kindness

Today, on my way to school I started thinking about when I first came to Korea in 1990.

I have been in Daejeon for nine months now and it’s never really felt comfortable for me living here in terms of what I have experienced in all the years that I have lived and worked in Korea. I feel as though I have been living out of my suitcase the past nine months waiting for the next chapter of my life in Korea to begin. And this “waiting” has also given me a lot of time, perhaps too much time, to think about a lot of things, specifically some of those very special Korean memories near and dear to my heart.

Like the time I was taking the subway one morning from Shinchon to Kangnam subway station and my subway pass didn’t work. It was my first week in Korea and I was getting used to taking the subway into work every morning. But on that morning in December 1990, my subway pass, which I had purchased for 10,000 Won wouldn’t work. Every time I tried to insert my ticket into the turnstile it was rejected with a loud ringing sound. Instead of exchanging my ticket, I kept on trying to insert it into the turnstile to no avail.

This went on for a few minutes when this young Korean woman, sensing my frustration when my pass would not work, bought me another subway ticket. She must have been in a hurry that morning because she didn’t have time to help me sort out the problems I was having with my pass, but she was kind enough to buy me a ticket to help me get on my way. Not much language was spoken, other than me thanking her in Korean for helping out and her and I both smiling as she and I went on our separate ways that morning.

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