Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Out and About

I've been away from the computer for the past few days, except to check e-mail. One of the great conveniences in Korea is the multitude of PC bangs ("bang" is "room" in Korean), which are mostly used by adolescent boys of all ages to play games, but are just as useful for other computer functions. There's at least one on every block, it seems, and the rates are reasonable.

It's always hard to be sure that what I notice as changes now aren't really just things I hadn't noticed before. But it seems to me that I see a lot more people riding bicycles this year, perhaps to save gas or mass-transit fares. Gas is not cheap in Korea, as in most countries, and the train and bus system is very good, but the fares do mount up. Korea's economy has rebounded better from last year's crisis than people expected (and better than the US has, it seems), but it may be that many people have decided to economize.

When I ride the subway, I've noticed more older people collecting discarded newspapers. The first time I saw this, the man was wearing a vest with printing on the back, which made me think he was a subway employee keeping the car tidy. But other people came along later and collected the next batch of papers. And so on. Can they make money by selling them for recycling? I don't know, and my Korean is inadequate for asking. And the same older lady I noticed last year was mopping the platform at Incheon Station with a string of pearls around her neck under her work smock.