The Seoul Flood of 2011, and why I was impressed with the Seoul Metro

If you haven’t heard by now, the city of Seoul – and Korea on the most part – is experiencing torrential flooding, the biggest in decades. There are already casualties, including a group of teenaged volunteers who were choked to death by a rain-induced landslide in their sleep.

Check out the pictures (they don’t belong to me):

 

 

 

Needless to say, traffic in Seoul was at a complete standstill; I experienced it firsthand when I needed to travel into Seoul from Suwon, which is a city a few kilometers south of the capital city.

I usually wait around 3-4 minutes at the bus stop for the express 7770 that takes me, via freeway, into Seoul, but today, I had to wait over 30 minutes for a packed bus. Not only that, but the driver informed me that the highway was submerged – submerged! – and the bus would have to take an alternate route, letting everyone off at a different location.

From what I’ve heard, various subway lines – including a section of the Bundang Line, which I used to ride every day – was down for the majority of the day due to interior flooding, and surface streets were predictably clogged. In the district of Gangnam, muddy water came up to the rooftops!

When I got back home and opened up Twitter, I saw the timeline filled with countless tweets by @seoul_metro and @korail1899, the two main operators of the Seoul Subway. They were literally posting updates every minute informing users of the current traffic situation – not only about their subways, but about surface streets as well.

This is the power of online communication, I thought, as yet another Tweet popped up, this time regarding the re-opening of certain sections of the Jungang Line.

I fired off this short tweet:

@korail1899@seoul_metro 요즘 며칠 동안 대중교통 사용자를 위해서 빠르고 신속한 업데이트를 내보낸 점에 감사드립니다. 앞으로도 힘써주시길 하는 바람입니다. 감동받았습니다…고맙습니다.

Thank you for your quick and factual updates for metro users for the past few days. I hope that you will do your best in the future. I was touched…thank you.

…A bit on the touchy-feely side, but it was, nevertheless, what I thought about their efforts to disseminate information as fast as they could.

I mean, they didn’t need to do what they did. They didn’t need to respond to a tweet about how a certain car’s air conditioning system was leaking, literally 10 seconds after that user had tweeted about it. They didn’t need to post ongoing updates.

But they did anyway, and I really thanked them for that – especially since I made use of it myself. I had an appointment in Gangnam the other day, and had tweeted @seoul_metro about the situation at Samsung Station. Ten seconds later, I got a response.

That’s efficiency. That’s dedication.

I was impressed with the Seoul Metro.

A few hours after I thanked them, I got this message from Korail:

@mtnmadman@seoul_metro 이렇게 칭찬해주시고 감사 인사를 주시는 분이 계셔서 더욱 열심히 해야겠다는 생각이 듭니다. 앞으로 더 열심히 노력하여 안전하고 편안한 철도를 만들도록 하겠습니다. 행복한 저녁 되세요^^

Because of people like you, we feel the urge to work harder and try our best. We will put even more effort into creating a safer, more comfortable railroad. Have a good evening ^^

…As I stare outside at the steadily falling rain, and my time in Korea draws to an close, I worry about many things – but there’s one thing I don’t worry about: how will I get into Seoul tomorrow?

**update** 07/29/2011 A response from the Seoul Metro.

@mtnmadman 대중교통을 담당하는 기관으로서 당연한 할일을 한 것 뿐입니다만, 이렇게 칭찬해주시니 감사하구요, 앞으로 이용시민들과 함께 울고 웃는 서울메트로가 되도록 더욱 노력하겠습니다.

Although we only did our duty as an organization dedicated to public transportation, thank you for your compliments, and we will strive to become a Seoul Metro that cries and laughs with all citizens.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Clay says:

    Hello,

    I am at Camp Casey visiting my husband. We have experienced flooding here as well. It’s so sad because people have lost their lives or homes. This is my first time in Korea and have enjoyed y’all culture significantly. I have to travel to Osan and Icheon Airport. How’s the flooding look in your area? It has subsided around Casey but there’s some mud being cleaned up.

    1. Suwon is doing fine, as of now – we were never really in too much trouble in the first place, and didn’t experience much flooding although we received heavy rains as well. I’m glad you’re enjoying our culture, and I’m sure the highways are back open by now.

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