South Korea is well known for its amazing transportation system, especially its affordable and convenient subway system, which served approximately 2.9 million people in 2018. Aside from their functionality, South Korea’s subway stations are also known for the services that are provided within them, such as cafes, convenience stores, information desks, and free public bathrooms. However, one aspect of these subway stations that is not well known is their unique exhibition spaces and venues, as only a few select stations have them. Each individual station offers unique spaces and services, making what would otherwise be an everyday activity actually refreshing.
In this list of unique and interesting subway stations, Sangdo Station on Line 6 features the most innovative yet unexpected exhibition space: Metro Farm (also known as Farm8 Academy). Metro Farm can be found on the first floor of Sangdo Station, and is located directly before the escalator near the station entrance.
|[Entrance of Metro Farm. Photo courtesy of the author.]|
Metro Farm was first opened on September 23, 2019, and has been open to the public ever since. It is an automatic vertical indoor farm that is owned by Farm 8, a modern agriculture company founded in 2004 that aims to raise awareness of indoor farming and hopes to develop technologies for the modern agriculture industry. Metro Farm produces 51 kilograms of vegetables daily.
|[Metro Auto Farm Station. Photo courtesy of the author.]|
Metro Farm is divided into nine different sections, each of which offers visitors a unique theme. There is a photo gallery that shows the history of indoor farming, a semi-automatic farm, a fully automatic farm, and a picnic area where visitors can consume the items they purchase at the Farm Cafe.
|[Metro Farm Cafe. Photo courtesy of the author.]|
However, of these sections, the most interesting and meaningful ones are the Farm Academy and Farm X. At the Farm Academy, after making a reservation online, visitors are able to experience and learn more about the modern agriculture industry. After this, they are also given a chance to harvest the vegetables being grown in Farm X, after receiving a guided tour. Finally, the visitors get to make their own salad at the Farm Cafe with the vegetables they harvested. For only 13,700 won, anyone is able to get a taste of the coming agricultural revolution at Sangdo Station. With the decreasing availability of agricultural resources and exponentially increasing number of people suffering from starvation, I think indoor farming could potentially be the solution to the global problems of starvation and malnutrition.
Despite lacking the innovation and creativity of Sangdo Station, Banpo Station on Line 6 offers the most convenient and practical services, including an automatic laundromat, and the Safety Promotion Exhibition. All of these and more can be found on the first floor of Banpo Station, just before the escalator near the station’s entrance.
|[Safety Promotion Exhibition. Photo courtesy of the author.]|
The most prominent and eye-catching aspect of this station is the Safety Promotion Exhibition, which is in the shape of a subway train. In this exhibit, visitors can experience and learn about many different things, such as the history of subway construction, basic safety, and general information on the development of South Korea’s subway system. There is also a VR station, movie room, educational arcade machines, photo zone, and CPR and basic safety class. Although all of these services are free for members of the public of all ages to use, they are nothing short of excellent. Moreover, just like a real subway train, the visitors can walk through the different subway train cars, each of which has one of the activities mentioned above. Many people who use the subway know little about its safety or the history behind it, but I think this exhibition is a great way for the citizens of Seoul to learn more about something that has become a part of their daily lives.
|[Laundromat. Photo courtesy of the author.]|
Aside from the Safety Promotion Exhibition, Banpo Station also offers a wide range of services, such as the Urban Launderette (automatic laundromat), a study cafe, an indoor gym, and everything else one would expect to find in a subway station, like a convenience store and free public bathrooms. Unlike many other subway stations, where only basic services are provided, Banpo Station offers much more than most people would expect, and at very reasonable prices. For many of Korea’s busy office workers, these services are very helpful and allow them to save some of their precious time every day.
|[Glass dome of Noksapyeong Station. Photo courtesy of the author.]|
However, Seoul’s subway stations aren’t just for people who enjoy modern technology or desire convenience. There are also stations that welcome art enthusiasts or people who enjoy nature. Line 6’s Noksapyeong Station features a beautiful glass dome that houses many different art exhibitions and displays. Here, visitors are able to experience nature and enjoy the artwork that is displayed on the different floors of the dome-shaped station. This subway station showed that art is not something that can only be enjoyed at exclusive museums or exhibits, and that it can become a part of our daily lives and be appreciated by even those who have little interest in art.
|[Rest areas. Photo courtesy of the author.]|
This four-story gallery, officially called “Noksapyeong Station Underground Arts Garden,” has been serving as a resting place for the busy citizens of Seoul since it was opened to the public on March 14, 2019. The station was originally built to be used as a wedding hall and a filming location, but after the plan was abandoned, the station was transformed into what it is today. In our busy lives, spaces like these can be very helpful for those who just need a place to take a short coffee break before heading to work.
Due to the recent coronavirus pandemic, many people have been afraid to use public transportation, and many others that do are simply too busy to notice these unique subway stations. However, the next time you visit these three or any other of Korea’s unique subway stations, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to take some time to experience the amazing services and spaces they offer.
Sophomore (Grade 10)
Seoul Foreign School
Hanseung Cho firstname.lastname@example.org
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