A few rules for riding the bus or subway to ensure you do not get scowled at nor told off by a disgruntled, elderly Korean lady:
1) Seats at either end of a subway carriage are reserved exclusively for the elderly, disabled or pregnant women. Do not sit in those seats at any time, even if the car seems quiet. Sometimes in the space of one subway station, the train can fill up. Buses have single seats closer to the front that are also reserved.
2) Give up your seat to someone more in need if the train or bus is very full.
3) Wait for people to leave the train before attempting to enter. On the bus, you enter through the front and exit via the middle door only.
4) Sometimes old Korean ladies (affectionately known as ajumas) will barge you out of the way. They are much stronger than they appear. They apparently have right of way and there is nothing you can do about it. It is better to take this slight with good natured aplomb, rather than get annoyed, as this will never get you anywhere and you will just look daft.
5) You can eat on the subway or bus, but be aware that most people sharing the ride with you probably don’t want to smell what you are eating.
6) If you want to fit in with the other Koreans on public transport, you can either a) watch t.v. on your smart phone (oh yes, mobile phones have full connectivity deep under the city even)
c) listen to music
or d) play games on your smart phone
Keeping these things in mind, you should be all set to ride Korea’s public transport hassle-free.