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  • Smart farms, AR, DVD-book center liven up Seoul subway stations

  • More than 7 million people on average use the subway in Seoul daily. Seoul Metro has installed unique amenities and spaces at stations to provide distinct cultural experiences and enhance rider convenience.



    Seoul Metro has installed a vertical farm at a subway station to boost convenience for subway users. Pictured here is Metro Farm, located next to Exit 5 of Dapsimni Station on Line No. 5. (Kim Sunjoo)

    Seoul Metro has installed a vertical farm at a subway station to boost convenience for subway users. Pictured here is Metro Farm, located next to Exit 5 of Dapsimni Station on Line No. 5. (Kim Sunjoo)



    By Oh Hyun Woo and Lee Jihae
    Seoul | Sept. 17, 2019

    Mi Young (pen name), 27, has frequently dropped by Metro Farm near Exit 5 of Dapsimni Station on Line No. 5 of the Seoul subway since June to buy salad, which is grown pesticide-free there. She thus deems it healthy.

    Metro Farm was established to make use of idle space and raise awareness of urban agriculture. The approximately 1,200 vegetables there are grown in an isolated facility, where factors such as light, temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide are artificially regulated. The harvested vegetables are eventually sold in a vending machine next to Metro Farm.

    Due to high demand for salad and the public notion that a once-desolate area of the subway station has become brighter thanks to the vegetables growing there, Seoul Metro is thinking of installing smart farms and salad vending machines at Euljiro 3-ga (line Nos. 2 and 3) and Chungjeongno (line Nos. 2 and 5) stations as well.

    "Listen to the Dance" by Shin Je-hyeon can be seen if a smartphone is directed toward an image next to a platform screen door at Gongdeok Station on Seoul's Nos. 5 and 6 subway lines. (Kim Sunjoo)



    The phone then showed a woman in a dance costume dancing at the station, seemingly showing a real woman dancing only a few feet away. Ho-yeon (pen name), 40, could move the dancing woman either right or left with a single touch of her phone screen.

    The station on Sept. 2 opened "pop-up galleries" at its platform, stairs and subway transfer areas. The galleries display a combined 88 artworks by utilizing augmented reality, an application of virtual reality in the real world.

    The galleries are part of a plan to turn the station into a "railroad of culture and arts" that displays artworks. The station is used by about 13 million people every year.

    A 5G smartphone is needed to use the U+AR app as Ho-yeon did, but those without the new wireless technology can still see artworks at the station. Some of the works can be seen by using the Google Lens app or devices installed at the pop-up gallery in the transfer areas. The gallery will run until the end of February next year.

    A commuter browses the DVDs at Chungmuro Visuals Center O-Zemidong (Chungmuro Visuals Center O-Zemidong)

    A commuter browses the DVDs at Chungmuro Visuals Center O-Zemidong (Chungmuro Visuals Center O-Zemidong)



    For Gwang-hyo (pen name), 35, Chungmuro Films Center O-Zemidong at Chungmuro Station on lines Nos. 3 and 4 is like an oasis. He drops by there two or three times a week after work to watch DVDs or read books on cinema. Visitors cannot rent or purchase the books or DVDs there and must use them at the venue.

    He intends to stop by again on Sept. 27 because "Kim-gun," a feature-length documentary about the May 18 Democratization Movement, will be screened that day.

    Chungmuro was the hub of Korean cinema from the 1960s to 80s, and remains a key symbol of domestic movies. The Seoul Metropolitan Government opened the innovative center in 2004 to revive Chungmuro's significance in the country's cinematic history.

    The venue has a library, a video room and an editing room and is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday.

    On the No. 6 subway line, artworks are also displayed at Noksapeyong Station. Sangwolgok Station on the same line has Science Station, which has facilities with easy explanations on science for children.

    hyunw54@korea.kr



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