Area I offers Korean subways class
CAMP RED CLOUD -- When members of the Area I community first try the Korean subways they usually like the system so much they become frequent users.
It's a sure-fire way to get to Seoul and back from Camp Casey in Dongducheon or Camp Red Cloud in Uijeongbu.
But some newcomers to Korea shy away from the subways because they don't know how to use them and think they'll quickly end up lost and confused.
So the Army in Area I is offering on July 15 a hands-on class -- a kind of Korean Subways 101 -- that includes an escorted trip in which participants are shown exactly what's what with the system and how easy it is to use. A shopping trip and a stop for lunch are part of the overall excursion.
It's offered by U.S. Army Garrison Red Cloud and Area I's Army Community Service at Camp Casey.
"I would certainly recommend it," said Doris Planas, financial readiness program manager with ACS.
"I think Korea has one of the best transit systems out here and it's very inexpensive, so I think the knowledge on how to properly use the train is basically a must for this area," she said.
The subway class is just one part of an overall monthly Newcomers' Orientation that ACS holds in its classroom in building 2451 on Camp Casey. It's held the third Monday of the month except on holidays, under an ACS Relocation Program that provides useful information for those arriving or departing assignments in Area I.
This month's orientation is scheduled for July 15 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The class is geared mainly to newly-arrived members of the Area I community.
Its varied topics include medical services, ration control, and black marketing, SOFA status and visa requirements, among others.
"Basically it's to educate newcomers on what's available in this area," Planas said.
Speakers give briefings on their areas of expertise -- legal, Tricare, noncombatant evacuation -- and others, tailored to their Area I audience.
It's the afternoon portion, from noon to 4 p.m., that's devoted to the subway excursion.
Participants are taught how to buy and use an electronic T-money card, sold in subway stations and elsewhere.
But for purposes of the subway class, ACS gives each person a T-money card, which they hand back at the end of the day's trip.
"That's like getting a train pass," said Planas. "It looks like a little credit card. All you do is scan that in, instead of putting money or anything, as you enter the train station you use your T-money card.
Each person must bring Korean money to cover lunch and other purchases.
The excursion begins with a walk from Camp Casey to nearby Bosan Station.
"We go to the machines, we show them how to purchase a card, we show them how to check the balance on a card and how to refill a card if it's running low," said Planas.
They're also taught to make the most of the English-language signs and announcements that are a regular part of the Korean subway system. That enables them to know which destinations to look for to go south, or north, and which trains are the right ones to board, Planas said.
"Then we hop on the train," she said. The actual ride between Bosan Station and Uijeongbu Station runs from 20 to 30 minutes, Planas said.
Once they get to Uijeongbu Station there's shopping and lunch.
In the vicinity of the station they get a look at the underground merchandise stalls and shops, and also visit the more expensive Shinsegae department store, just yards from the station.
There they visit the food court where they learn how to use digital display screens that allow them to select what they want to eat and place an order for it, as well as how to take a ticket and know the right window at which to pick up their meal when it's ready.
After lunch they stop at a bakery inside the mall, then head outside to other nearby stores.
"Then we start our trip back home, letting them know again how to use their card," Planas said.
Those wanting to take part in the Newcomer's Orientation must register by calling 730-3107.
Free child care is provided for those who've already registered their -- in advance of the Orientation -- with the Child Development Center, said Planas.
More information on child care is also available at 730-3107.