Monday, 17 May 2010

Motorbike Couriers frustrated Seoulites fail to Walk on Right

Jang Poktan, head of VROOM Violently Riding On Our Motorbikes Association of Seoul, recently explained the situation to Dokdo is Ours. "We were sure that the new 'walk on the right' system would herald a golden age of orderly sidewalk manners in Seoul: as numerous newspaper articles note, all the advanced countries walk on the right side of the sidewalk. If Korea followed the example of these advanced nations, bikers would have an open lane in the center of the sidewalk, where we could drive as quickly and safely as we pleased." But the plan did not work as advertised. "People continue walking any which way, changing directions and speeds at random, so rather than being able to drive on the sidewalk quickly and safely, I have to drive on the sidewalk with all my senses alert, and I sometimes even slow down! Not because I don't feel that the sidewalk is my own, to drive on as I please, and not because I feel bad about hitting people - I have jajang to deliver, you know? But just because it's exhausting hearing the accusing or mournful cries of family members following after me when I DO maim someone."


Despite a six-month public awareness campaign, changes in escalator directions, and hundreds of paint or sticker arrows on sidewalks and walkways, motorbike couriers continue to complain that Seoulites walk "anywhere they damn please on the sidewalk."
(image)
While Jang Poktan was unable to name an advanced nation where the purpose of pedestrians walking on the right was to clear a way for motorbike couriers and delivery people, he was unfazed by that absence. "That's just one way Korea could be even MORE advanced than other countries: instead of just having orderly sidewalkds, Korea could have orderly sidewalks AND the world's fastest Chinese delivery!" Mayor Oh SeHoon, architect of the "Walk on the right" campaign, also expresses frustration. "I want my jajang faster, Goddamnit! Why do you think I came up with this plan?"

It is interesting that the mayor should choose those specific words: The GODDAMN: The Group Organized to Defend the Diminutive Against Motorbike Negligence was not impressed by VROOM's wish to increase motorbike sidewalk usage. Ok Pak-eok, head of the association, described her group's countermeasures against VROOM's heedlessness. "We plan to weave and bob across the entire sidewalk with every few steps, walk slowly, several abreast, from shoulder to shoulder, as often as we can, and to randomly stop and start walking again, to make our movements impossible to predict," Ok explained.
"This will make sidewalk riding prohibitively difficult and slow for delivery bikers, and cause them to use the road instead of endangering children."

Ok seemed unconcerned that this pattern of movement would also make it difficult for other pedestrians to share the sidewalk with them. "They'll just have to suck it up. Better than getting clocked by a motorbike." So next time readers are walking on the sidewalk, and somebody suddenly stops to look in her purse, Ok suggests that you thank her: she might be a member of GODDAMN, working, bobbing and weaving to protect the sidewalks from motorbikes. In fact, she probably is: Ok claims membership of her group numbers about 11 million, and is almost exclusively old ladies: according to Korea's demographic information, almost every old lady in the nation is probably a member! And what should readers say to thank them? Just address them by the name of their group: "Goddamn Ajumma!"

10 comments:

DrugstoreCowgirl said...

Hahaha perfection.

Valerie said...

Seoulites walk "anywhere they damn please"......this is so true!!

The whole walk on the right plan was a big FAIL

Korean Rum Diary said...

Classic.

Lee Farrand said...

Good post.

With your photos, you might want to use Blogger Draft. It lets you customize the width of the columns. Just sayin'

calliejane said...

One of the best. EVER.

joji1909 said...

I've seen those stupid signs in subway stations. Sometimes they have a white girl saying "No". I've asked Korean friends why they changed the direction and quite a few have said 'to be different to Japan'. I can't remember which way it is in Japan though.

John said...

Most of Japan walk on the left. However, the Kansai region (Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe etc) walk on the right to be different from...the rest of Japan.

Chris Rust said...

Nice, and glad you used my photo of that very cool bike freight operator.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the encouragement, all. Also, thanks for posting the great pics, Chris. I hope you are satisfied with the way I gave credit.

-DIO

Celebith said...

I have to ride my scooter on the sidewalks - they're the only part of the streets without any pedestrians.