28 November 2008

Uiwang: Rail Museum

Today's day tripping took me out to the suburb of Uiwang, south of Seoul. Time to reminisce it and hopefully get over the rage that I had in my last post.

I am in Seongnam, southeast of Seoul, and a direct trip to Uiwang, either by car or on buses, shouldn't take long. But I no longer have a car, and didn't feel like deciphering Seongnam's bus system, so I decided to take a long detour, using the subway system. It involved three transfers (Bundang Line to Seolleung, Line 2 to Sadang, Line 4 to Geumjeong, then Line 1); it's also possible to do it with only two transfers but leading to huge increase in travel time (Bundang Line to Seolleung, Line 2 to Sindorim, then Line 1), or with four transfers for slightly shorter distance but negligible time savings (Bundang Line to Suseo or Dogok, Line 3 to University of Education, Line 2 to Sadang, Line 4 to Geumjeong, then Line 1). Travel time was 90 minutes, and fare was 1,600 won with T-Money and 1,700 won if using cash, meaning a distance surcharge of 700 won.

On Line 2, just about every car of every train appears to have Sun Moon University's ads. They claim that Sun Moon has more foreign students than any other South Korean university; it's for a good reason, as the Moonies give out generous scholarships to foreigners so that they can come and soak up the primitive Confucio-Christian morality at the source. South Korean universities, otherwise, are poor choices for foreigners, unless they are coming for intensive immersion programs in Korean; due to the excessive stresses of college entrance preparation in high school, undergrad years tend to be a time for relaxation and recreation, not academics.

There were lots of Christian extremist missionaries out and about in the subways today, especially in Seoul Metro sections. I am so incensed that I will boycott Seoul Metro (Lines 1-4) as much as I can from now on. Seoul Metro is also the worst-run of the three subway operators, anyway. Sure, Seoul Metro has the most services into downtown, and I'll probably have to keep riding some of them, but Line 5 of SMRT also goes there, and I can get on Line 5 from Seongnam via Line 8, another SMRT line. Line 5 will also take me to Gimpo Airport tomorrow, where I can take the A'REX airport train to Incheon for my flight to Hong Kong. Korail also runs lots of trains into downtown Seoul, but they are on Line 1, and stop at Seoul Metro stations, forcing me to use Seoul Metro turnstiles and therefore give Seoul Metro ridership and revenue.

Much of Seoul Metro's current policies can be blamed on the city government, headed by Mayor Oh Se-hun, a "Grand National" (Republican) who makes 2MB look like a bleeding-heart liberal, and of course 2MB's hand-picked successor. SMRT appears to be less impacted by the city government's colonials for some reason.

Uiwang's station is in a busy rail yard, and is surrounded by a number of rail-related facilities, including the Railroad University, the Railroad Cultural Institute, a Railway Workers' Union hall,
and of course the Rail Museum, my destination today. The museum is located 10 minutes on foot from the station, along this 2-lane street which follows the rail line south. There are several signs pointing the way - all in Korean only, however.

Here, next to some ancient shacks, I can see a restaurant serving what some consider a delicacy and even an aphrodisiac - dog meat soup. I'll pass, no matter how hungry I am. And honestly, after discussing South Korea as a US Republican colony, I must say this: if South Korea were a true US colony, this sight would be illegal, and I'd actually be very relieved. Too bad it's the colony of a discredited minority political party instead.

The museum is cheap; it's only 500 won for an adult. It's of interest to definitely hardcore railfans, but even for others, especially history buffs, it may be a nice half-day trip. I have a healthy interest in transportation - trains, planes, and automobiles - so this was a good day. I must admit, however, that on a pissy day like this, I'd rather head out to Incheon Airport and greet (or send off) a United Airlines Boeing 777 - until recently, my primary means of traveling the world.

The fascists, like their US Republican masters, were so obsessed with expressways and cars, that they completely neglected the rail system for decades. That has been undone in recent years, however, as the expressways jammed up, and I am experiencing the latest result of the progress.

I am in a full-scale mockup of the KTX II bullet train, a native Korean train developed with technology acquired from the French TGV trains that were part of the original KTX program. KTX II will enter service in 2010. With two locomotives and eight passenger carriages, it will serve low-density routes that the current 18-carriage KTX trainsets cannot profitably serve. As the bullet train line was built, conventional lines were also upgraded with double-tracking and electrification.

Korail's eventual hope, according to the video playing inside this mockup, is to launch services into North Korea and onto the Trans-Siberian, Trans-Manchurian, Trans-Chinese, and Trans-Mongolian routes. That will enable speedy and affordable delivery of freight to/from Europe, compared to maritime routes. Korail will also get to carry Japanese freight that would prefer to use rail from South Korea on, rather than maritime shipping. The video also features British, Canadian, and other visitors taking a ride on the KTX bullet train and giving it heaps of praises.

South Korea saw its first diesel-electric locomotives, when the war ended in 1953 and the UN command left its leftover diesel locomotives to Korail.

This Korail 3100-series diesel-electric was built by ALCO in the US, and Korail started buying these in 1959. Its top speed is 105 km/h (65 MPH). In 1960, it launched the Mugunghwa (Rose of Sharon) express service, making the trip from Seoul to Busan in 6.5 hours, a half-hour savings from before.

This is a diesel commuter train, with both passenger and engineer compartments. Built in 1963 by Niigata in Japan, it initially served the Seoul-Incheon route, but when electric subway trains took over the route in 1974, it served a number of minor lines until retirement in 1987.

This is definitely a familiar sight to me - or anyone who remembers Seoul from the 1970s and the 1980s. This is Car 1001, one of the controls cars from the very first subway train in Seoul. It was built by Hitachi in Japan, and put into service on August 15, 1974, when Seoul inaugurated its first subway line. It was retired in December 2000.

This train has a top speed of 110 km/h and the ability to run on both AC power (preferred by Korail) and DC power (preferred by City of Seoul). And it certainly looks a lot like the Tokyo subway trains of that era.

The blue livery with white stripe was the hallmark of Korail's subway trains until well into the 1990s. City of Seoul also bought some of these trains and ran them alongside these Korail trains, but they had white body with red stripe, to signify the then-line color of Line 1.

Of course, in 1981, Seoul created a new public corporation, Seoul Metropolitan Subway Corporation, to take over the operation of city-owned subway lines. It set a precedent followed by other subway systems throughout South Korea. In 2005, this company renamed itself to Seoul Metro.

This is a VIP car, built in 1927 and rebuilt in 1955. Syngman Rhee and Park Chung-hee both traveled extensively on this car.

This is the interior of the original rolling stock of Seoul's subway Line 1. This is Car 1315, a middle car, identical to the 1974 Japanese trains but built locally in 1977, becoming the first South Korean-built subway train. Car 1115, the control car from the same consist, is also attached to this car, but it's used as a classroom now and I can't enter it. Both cars served until October 2002. Many of the interior advertisements still date from 2002.

The air conditioning system overhead is an add-on. For a long time, Line 1 did not feature air conditioning, and passengers complained mightily. All subway trains since, starting with the 1980 models put into service on the first sections of Line 2, have come with factory air conditioning.

This is also a look at the pre-fireproofing Seoul subway car interior. The wall panels are colored, while the seats feature plush velvet. There certainly are none of the electronic visual displays for upcoming station stops and other information that I can expect to find in current trainsets. But in terms of physical dimensions and the basic layout, the current trainsets and this car are completely identical (although SMRT's trains have roofs a couple of inches lower).

Here is most of a 1984 system map, still stuck over a door of Car 1315.

Red is the 1974 Line 1, administered by Seoul Metro, covering the underground portions of the line. Blue is "National Rail," the catch-all phrase at the time for all Korail sections; it extends from Line 1, north to Seongbuk and south to Incheon and Suwon, and offering through service on a mix of Korail and Seoul Metro trains, just like today. (Now, the whole line is called Line 1, and is dark blue, extending north to Soyosan, and the Suwon branch running all the way south to Cheonan.) From Yongsan to Cheongnyangni, a separate branch also runs; long considered part of Line 1 and labeled as generic "National Rail" for ages, now that branch has extended east, and is now called a separate Jungang Line, with the line color of jade. Seoul Metro's Line 2 shows up in green as a complete circle line, which was completed in 1984, but Lines 3 and 4, opened in 1985, don't show up here yet.

The romanization scheme used on the map is the Ministry of Education system, which is similar to the current Revised Romanization system, but with literal transliteration of Korean consonants into their English equivalents with no regard for actual pronunciation. Soon after this map, the Ministry of Education system was abolished, replaced by the McCune-Reischauer system, still used by the US and North Korea, far more friendly to the foreign visitors, but hated by the locals. That lasted until 2000.

Car 1315 as seen from the outside. Its livery, with yellow and green stripes on a white body, was adopted by Korail in the latter part of the 1990s. It's no longer in use today, however.

The first Line 1 trains had 4 to 6 cars. But in the late 1980s, extra cars (identical to these, but with factory air conditioning) were built to lengthen the trains to ten cars. While the original trains have all been retired and scrapped due to legal age limits, the extra cars are still within legal age, and still in service, inserted into newer trainsets. Seoul Metro even has a consist that is made up entirely of these extra cars.

When Seoul Metro retires its aging Lines 2 and 3 rolling stock over the next year, they won't be scrapped. They will be refurbished and put into service in Vietnam.

This is a diesel boiler, part of a diesel boiler car. From the 1960s to the 1980s, a boiler car was added to many lower-class trains in winter months to provide heating.

The first mainline electric train built in South Korea. This was built by Daewoo Heavy Industries in 1976, and operated Mugunghwa services starting in 1981 on the Jungang Line. Jungang Line, stretching from eastern Seoul to Gyeongju over the mountaineous east, was electrified in 1973, and for a long time, was South Korea's only electrified rail line. Due to the rugged line topography, the train could only do 110 km/h.

Of course, now most major lines are electrified in South Korea, and work continues to electrify the remaining lines.

Interior of the 1976 electric trainset.

Before I go on, I need to discuss the various hierarchy schemes used by Korail to classify its passenger trains. The long-standing system, used well into the 1990s, is as follows:
  • Saemaul (New Village), the super-express, limited stops and air conditioning, 4 hours and 10 minutes from Seoul to Busan
  • Mugunghwa (Rose of Sharon), the express, some more stops and air conditioning
  • Tongil (Unification), the normal, lots of stops and no air conditioning
  • Bidulgwi (Dove), the local, even more stops and no air conditioning, over 12 torturous hours from Seoul to Busan, but dirt cheap
The current system, since 2004, is as follows:
  • KTX, the bullet train at 305 km/h
  • Saemaul, the express, in green or blue
  • Mugunghwa, the normal, in red
  • Commuter, the local, replacing the Tongil but now air conditioned
In 1959, South Korea built its first passenger carriage, similar to this. This specific example was built by Korail in Incheon in 1962, and is the first one off the new assembly line. It did semi-express services at first, then did Bidulgwi services starting in 1967.

Its interior has fixed seats facing both directions, and is non-air conditioned.

This is an improved 1965 model, also built at Incheon, decreasing car weight from 36 metric tons to 30. Top speed improved from 110 to 120 km/h. It was used in Tongil service.

The interior of the Tongil car, which sits 72. The seats can be rotated in the direction of travel, a must in modern South Korean trains (though a feature sadly lacking in KTX's second class cabin, which insists on the French TGV convention of fixed seats and forces some passengers to face backward). No air conditioning here either; the fans overhead are the only means of cooling.

Behind me, there also are a wash basin and a toilet. However, it's an old style toilet that flushes onto the tracks; warnings remind me not to use the toilet when the train is stopped.

When I went to Gimcheon and Jikjisa in 1980, I probably traveled in a carriage similar to this.

This is a narrow-gauge car, serving South Korea's only narrow-gauge line, the Su-in line from Suwon to Incheon, from 1965 until its closing in 1987.

Korail has re-opened part of Su-in Line as a section of Seoul Subway Line 4, using standard gauge. Construction is under way to re-open the rest of the line to standard gauge subway traffic as well; when completed, dedicated Su-in trains, as well as Line 4 trains and Bundang Line trains via Suwon, will travel the line to Incheon, where they will terminate together and offer a transfer to Line 1.

Here's another VIP car. Built in 1936, it was rebuilt in 1958 for use of US Eighth Army commanders. On November 1, 1966, US President Lyndon B. Johnson traveled on this car.

I've entered a small two-story indoors exhibit hall, opened in 1988.

This map shows the bullet train line from Seoul to Busan. Blue is the new high-speed line opened in 2004; dotted part is under construction and will open in 2010. Red is the conventional line sections used by the bullet trains. Black is the rest of the conventional line. Red circles indicate active bullet train stations, while blue circles indicate either dedicated train yards or a future bullet train station. White circles indicate points where high-speed tracks diverge from/merge back to conventional tracks, but are not stops in themselves. The dotted green line indicates an extra bullet train service; however, it currently uses conventional lines, and high-speed lines in that direction won't even start construction until at least 2014.

The right numerals indicate travel times. White numerals indicate travel times from Seoul on the KTX service. Yellow numerals indicate time savings over conventional Saemaul trains.

This miniature Pacific-class steam locomotive commemorates the first assembly in Korea of a Pacific-class in 1930. All steam locomotives in Korea were given Koreanized model names, "Pashi" in this case, affixed to the front of the locomotives.

Two photos of progress. In 1911, the rail bridge linking Sinuiju, North Korea, to Dandong, China, was completed, as seen on the right. This allowed through train travel from Korea all the way to Europe through the end of World War II. On the left, a steam locomotive retires in August 1967, as diesel-electrics take over South Korea's rail network.

A chart of travel times on various trains on the busy Seoul-Busan route, just over 400 kilometers, over the years. The line opened in May 1905, using a steam locomotive, and at 50 km/h tops, the trip took 14 hours. In December 1936, a fast Japanese steam locomotive could make the trip in 6 3/4 hours, but after the end of Japanese rule, inferior steam locomotives slowed the trip back to 9 hours. In 1955, diesel locomotives were introduced, with initial run time of 7 hours. In the industrial era, run times were progressively reduced - to 4 hours and 50 minutes, in 1969, 4 hours and 40 minutes in 1983, and finally 4 hours and 10 minutes in 1987 with a top speed of 150 km/h. KTX is not included here, as it uses a separate, dedicated line; current run time is 2 hours and 40 minutes, and it will be reduced to under 2 hours in 2010 once the entire high-speed line opens.

Nearby is a display showcasing the Gyeongui (Seoul-Sinuiju) Line, with construction starting in 1904 and fully complete by 1906. Built for the use of the Japanese military in the Russo-Japanese War, the line involved forcibly conscripted Korean labor and lots of land grab, leaving the Koreans unhappy and protesting the rail system. Eventually, it served as a valuable rail link, and saw improvements and upgrades to double-tracking, before the division of Korea cut service for good, and the war severely damaged the line. Currently, South Korea runs a single-track line to Dorasan, with double-track electrification between Seoul and Munsan under progress, and a recently restored connection to Kaesong; North Korea runs a single-track electrified line from Kaesong northward. There is even an introduction to the four major stops on the line - Kaesong, Sariwon, Pyongyang, and Sinuiju - with notable sights accessible from each stop.

On the subject of North Korean rail network, it's been much better at electrification than South Korea, with almost all lines electrified early on, but very poor at double-tracking. And the network is now in very poor shape due to the economic collapse.

Top: passengers gather to ride on the Seoul-Incheon rail line, the first and only Korean rail line, in 1901.

Bottom: before rail, horses were the main means of long-distance travel in Korea. There is a row of ten medals, increasing from one to ten horses; used by governmental officials and others, the number of horses indicated the bearer's rank.

On September 18, 1899, the first Korean rail line, from Noryangjin southwest of Seoul (now well within Seoul limits) to Incheon, opened for service. The locomotive used on the line was this 2-6-0 Mogul, pulling three carriages. It opened with four locomotives, six passenger carriages, 28 freight cars, and a staff of 119. In the 1910s, a rail bridge across the Han River extended the line to downtown Seoul. In 1974, it became a subway line.

September 18th continues to be marked in South Korean calendars as Railroad Day, though it's not a holiday, and is of significance only to railfans.

The rail line was planned and designed by James R. Morse, an American. The top shows the design drawing for the line. The bottom right is the English-language copy of the 1896 contract giving Morse the concession to build the line; a Korean copy is just beyond the right edge of this photo.

At this time, most other Asian nations, and many other nations around the world, already had rail systems; the UK and the US already boasted extensive networks. Korea was relatively late to the railroad party.

Two models of Korail diesel-electric locomotives. Both are in current service, but feature the green 1990s livery that is being phased out.

The left is a standard locomotive, similar to American models (and in fact, imported from the US well into the 1970s), used for both passengers and freight. The right is a passenger train-only locomotive, with a small passenger compartment, and put on either end of a modern-day Saemaul consist with typically six passenger carriages in between. Saemaul trains have two bogies per car, so the carriage number may vary, and cars may be shuffled around; by contrast, KTX uses the shared-bogie design of the French TGVs, so the whole consist is permanently coupled.

In 1910, as Japan took over Korea and developed Korea's rail network to further its influence, this new station building was built in Busan. It no longer exists, as it burned to the ground in 1953. The current station building was built a few years later, and extensively remodeled in 2004 to prepare for KTX services.

This presidential proclamation from Park Chung-hee honors train engineer Kim Jae-hyeon.

In 1950, in the early days of the Korean War, North Korean forces marched quickly south, and South Korean and US forces abandoned Daejeon and retreated to Daegu. However, a US Army battalion was trying to defend Daejeon to the end, and it was trapped. To save this battalion, Kim volunteered to run a steam locomotive to Daejeon, pulling a train with 33 American commandos on board. However, as the train neared Daejeon, the North Koreans ambushed it and killed everyone on board. Kim's heroics turned him into the first railroad worker to be interred in the South Korean National Cemetery system, in 1983.

As this exhibit, and most of the rest of the museum, dates from 1988 unchanged, the language used to honor the heroics of Kim - and the war situation - is decidedly very McCarthyistic, referring to the North Korean forces as "illegitimate invaders" for example. By contrast, the newer exhibits, which showcase future plans for connecting South Korean rails to the rest of the Eurasian landmass, uses much more conciliatory language toward North Korea, reflecting the recent trends that the 2MB colonial government has now ended. There is definitely a very split personality here at this museum.

I am now entering a newer exhibit. Here are three bullet train models. The top is a TGV trainset in Thalys livery, which runs from Paris to Brussels, Amsterdam, and Cologne; I've traveled on Thalys before, though that was a long time ago. The middle one is another TGV, but in AVE livery, running between Madrid and Seville. The bottom is an ICE trainset that runs throughout Germany.

Two more. The top is a Japanese Shinkansen. The bottom is yet another TGV trainset in KTX livery.

Oddly enough, all TGVs in the two above photos show the newer power car design, even though both AVE and KTX use the older power car designs. Thalys uses both.

In 1981, computerized reservations were introduced into Korail's network. The left is a computer terminal used for inputting reservations. The right is a dot-matrix printer used to print out tickets. The entire Korail system went into computerized reservations by 1989.

Now, of course, it's possible to use the Internet to reserve, and to print out tickets at home, though in reality, it's difficult without using one's National ID number or passport number. Cell phone users can even use their phones as tickets.

Hole punches used to invalidate tickets by conductors. The bottom shows three such invalidated old-style tickets.

Left: a collection of cash fare magnetic subway tickets over the years. Before 1986, tickets were invalidated at entry and collected at the destination by station staff, but since 1986, magnetic Paris-style tickets have been in use, in conjunction with automated turnstiles, though most riders these days use smart chip farecards.

Middle: special tickets issued for inaugurations of various subway lines, by Korail and Seoul Metro. The two top left tickets, from 1985, commemorate the opening of Lines 3 and 4, and invite the holder to take a ride from Sindorim (Lines 1 and 2) to Chang-dong (Lines 1 and 4) for free - hopefully incorporating portions of all four lines then in existence. I had them myself back in the day.

Right: early-model Korail electronic tickets, printed on a dot matrix printer.

This museum has been visited by representatives of foreign railroads over the years, as evidenced by these two exhibits. The top is a spike from Amtrak. The bottom is a model locomotive from British Rail.

Here's another American reminder - though it's from the colonial master and something I'd rather do without.

On February 20, 2002, W showed up at Dorasan Station, and signed this railroad tie, with a message: "May this railroad unite Korean families." However, W has completely botched his handling of North Korea, and his colonial servants in power in Seoul today continue to do so. My only solace is in the fact that W is now a lame duck and soon to be gone, to be replaced by Obama, and that the Seoul colonial government is now a servant without its master.

There was also a section dedicated to the engineering aspects of Korean railroads, complete with signaling and electric delivery systems. I took some interest, but didn't take any photos. The first Korean electric railroad was opened in 1924, serving North Korea's Diamond Mountains as a branch of the Seoul-Wonsan line; the line no longer exists, though plans have been floated to rebuild it for South Korean tourists. That line used 1,500 V DC. In 1973, the oldest existing South Korean electric line opened, with 25,000 V AC.

Currently, 1,500 V DC is used for subway lines (except for Korail-operated lines, which continue to insist on 25,000 V AC, and among the few subway lines worldwide with AC power), while 25,000 V AC is used for mainline service. Seoul Subway Lines 1 and 4, jointly run by Korail and Seoul Metro, require voltage switching (which involves coasting on battery power for a minute) and dual-voltage trains, while Line 3, also jointly run by the two, oddly runs only on 1,500 V DC, the only Korail line with that distinction. Line 3 also runs its trains on the right, using Seoul Metro rules - even on Korail sections - and is controlled by Seoul Metro dispatchers; even Korail trains on the route are built to Seoul Metro specs, and serviced by Seoul Metro staff at a Seoul Metro yard.

Maybe I should stay off all of Line 3 as well, as the Korail involvement is in name only, and the Korail section is isolated and requires traveling through the Seoul Metro section (therefore giving Seoul Metro some of the fare revenue). It's a poorly planned line with crooked detours (especially south of the river) and the worst rolling stock anyway.

I am back outside. This monument, originally erected at Seoul Station in 1972, marks the origin point of the Korean rail system. It shows directions and rail distances to eight key cities, as follows:
  • 444.5 kilometers to Busan (southeast)
  • 427.3 kilometers to Mokpo (southwest)
  • 166.9 kilometers to Daejeon (south)
  • 38.9 kilometers to Incheon (west)
  • 377.4 kilometers to Gangneung (east)
  • 260.7 kilometers to Pyongyang (northwest)
  • 496.0 kilometers to Sinuiju (north)
  • 943.8 kilometers to Najin/Rason (northeast)
The monument also features a model of Seoul Station's terminal. The terminal was built by the Japanese in 1925, as a smaller-scale carbon copy of Tokyo Station. It remained in use until 2004, when in preparation for KTX services, Korail built an all-new terminal next door with private funding. The old terminal still stands, however, normally closed but occasionally hosting cultural events.

Again, this museum is just outside a rail yard, on the main southbound rail line out of Seoul. All sorts of trains to/from all sorts of destinations throughout South Korea show up here. Visitors are well encouraged to do some trainspotting, and I decided to try it myself.

Here's a very old electric locomotive on a dry run. This is the type put in service in 1973 on the only South Korean electric line then. Now, there are many more electrified lines - in fact, the entire conventional line from Seoul to Busan, this very line, is also electrified - so this aging locomotive is finding lots of extra uses.

It wears the current red-blue Korail livery.

A diesel-electric pulls a freight train made up of cement cars. With most of the passenger services shifted over to KTX, this line is now primarily a freight line, though plenty of passenger services continue to use it.

In South Korea, a government agency is responsible for planning and building mainline tracks, while another government agency, Korail, owns them and runs the trains. The only non-Korail trains on Korail tracks are those of Seoul Metro. (All other subway operators in South Korea use their own dedicated tracks.) There are no privately owned/operated rail companies in South Korea just yet, though 2MB certainly wants to privatize some parts of Korail in sweetheart deals to crony contractors, and the union is upset.

This busy stretch of track, between Seoul and Suwon, was quadruple-tracked in 1981, according to the museum exhibits, to facilitate service and accommodate both subway trains and mainline trains efficiently.

That's a Line 1 subway train bearing the current Korail livery.

It's bare metal, except for the doors. All Korail subway trains use the common dark blue on the lower parts of the doors, but the upper parts use different colors for each line. Line 1 uses the line's former color - red. Jungang Line, formerly considered a branch of Line 1, also uses red. Line 3 uses orange, while Line 4 uses light blue, and Bundang Line uses yellow; all three colors are the current official line colors for each line. Those color combinations often look ugly (I prefer the more tasteful Seoul Metro and SMRT color schemes, even though Seoul Metro's trains are junk), and I wondered why they were so; now I understand.

Lines 2, 5, 6, 7, and 8 do not have Korail service, and neither do any other subway lines in other South Korean cities.

While I certainly enjoyed being a railfan today, this might be something even more to my liking. Apparently, there is a museum somewhere not too far away, named Sudoguksan Museum, which is dedicated to life in "daldongne" (literally "moonshine neighborhood," and referring to hilltop shantytowns with no running water and probably no power, but plenty of moonshine). Its current special exhibition explores shantytown life through a series of matches and matchboxes over the past several decades.

I need to figure out where this museum is, so that I can surely visit it after my Hong Kong trip, and before my US return.

Of course, this is a thing of the past. Former hilltop shantytowns are now luxury neighborhoods, with power, water, and great views (whether the former shantytown residents are properly compensated upon their eviction is another matter, however). But many people, even the well-to-do, certainly remember the poorer times before industrialization.

Final trainspotting shot. As I walk away from the museum's parking lot, a Saemaul trainset races south. This one has the current blue livery.

I took the same route back to Seongnam. Both Line 1 and Line 4 segments were on Seoul Metro trains, even though all of the Line 1 segment and almost all of the Line 4 segment were on Korail tracks. And once on Line 2, of course Seoul Metro, I got so incensed in the crowded, propaganda-laden train (with a seatmate who was clearly a supporter of the Republican colonial government) that I had to jump off only after two stops, and take a less crowded train two minutes later, even though it was just as propaganda-laden. I'm still so incensed that I hope to never see the interior of a Seoul Metro train for a while, if ever.

Can't wait to fly to Hong Kong and get away from the US Republican madness in South Korea, if only for a few days.