I live near a subway station connected to Line 9 (9호선). Although it can get a bit crowded during peak hours, I have generally found Line 9’s service to exceptional: timely, clean, and modern. It’s connected to useful spots in Seoul, such as Gimpo International Airport (김포국제공항) Yangcheon Hyanggyo (양천향교), Yeouido (여의도), Dangsan (당산), and Gangnam (강남). However, I will try to avoid riding it for the time being, and so should you. Here’s why.
When Line 9 was first constructed, it went from Gaehwa (개화) in Gangseo-gu (강서구) to Sinnonhyeon (신논현) in Gangnam-gu (강남구). This was known as “Phase One”, and was run by Hyundai Rotem (현대로템) and Veolia Transport–a private French company. While subsequent phases are and will be run by Seoul Metro (서울교통공사), a public entity, Veolia Transport’s inclusion marked the first time that a subway in Korea was run by a private company.
According to The Korea Herald:
The union of Seoul Line 9 Operation Co., the private railway operator, staged a rally Thursday near Seoul City Hall, in which they announced the launch of a 6-day strike. Union leader Park Ki-beom said at the rally that the strike is to protest to long work hours and short staffing problems at Subway Line No. 9. Park claimed that Seoul Line 9 Operation Co. has been unresponsive to the union’s demand on the excuses of its parent companies Transdev and RATP, France-based international transport operators, having control over administration.
Unionized workers on subway lines 5 (5호선), 6 (6호선), 7 (7호선), and 8 (8호선) went on strike in September 2016 to protest a new wage system. Many people believed that the performance-based nature of the system was in part to blame for the death of a maintenance worker.
This might be a bit of an inconvenience for some people, but please do your part to support workers’ rights during the strike. If you are dependent on Line 9 for transportation needs, consider looking at buses, or even taxis for the time being.