Korea is a traveler’s dream. Never mind the ease at which one can navigate the crowded streets of Seoul, the real beauty of the nation’s infrastructure is how effortlessly one can transport family and friends from one corner of the county to the other. While many opt to make use of extensive bus routes, for me, riding the rails holds a special draw. Maybe it’s due to all those years building model railroads with my dad in the hobby room or the thrill of hearing that familiar clickety-clack when trains pass by? Whatever the reason, if given the chance, I always prefer to travel by train and KORAIL, the Korean Railroad company, now makes it even easier to travel with their iPhone App.
The GLORY KORAIL (글로리 코레일) app for iPhones, iPads, and iPods was introduced in 2011 and puts the power of the Korean railroad in the palm of your hands. The app allows anyone to review train schedules, but the real benefit is the ability to book passage instantly. Before using the application, three things need to be disclosed. First, the application is entirely in Korean. If one doesn’t have a grasp of Hangeul, then it may be hard to use; however, this article is aimed at making it easy to navigate the menus. Second, payment can only be made with Korean issued credit cards. Finally, one must have a KORAIL membership.
KORAIL Membership costs 10,000 won and can be purchased at any train station. The application is in Korean, but asks for only basic information: name, address, e-mail, phone number, national ID number (Alien Registration Number for foreigners), and a secret PIN. Depending on which station you apply at, you could get your member card right on the spot. Otherwise, it could take a month or more to have it delivered to you. Regardless of where you apply, once you pay the registration fee, you will receive a membership number. From that point on, you’re ready to roll. Even if you don’t plan on using the app, obtaining a KORAIL membership is advantageous, since it allows you to book tickets online or over the phone when calling 1544-7788.
Once the application launches, the above screen appears. Even without any Korean language knowledge, it’s pretty easy to guess which menu options will be helpful. Here’s a translated list going counterclockwise from the top left:
승차권 예매 – Ticket Reservations
승차권 확인 – Ticket confirmation
가까운역 찾기 – Locate Station
할인상품 – Save
예약내역 – Issue ticket
나의정보 – Default and Settings
To begin the process of booking passage on a train, tap the top left icon (승차권 예매 – Ticket Reservations). The program will then take you to the above screen. This screen allows the traveler to customize their trip. The translated menu items from top to bottom appear below.
여정 – Type of Journey
열차종류– Kind of train
출발일시 – Departure Date and Time
출발역 – Departure Station
도착역 – Destination Station
좌석종류 – Seating Type
승차인원 (할인추가) – Number of People / Type
This is where many might turn away out of fear of having to navigate the application in Korean; however, the app is straightforward and easy. The fist item on the screen selects either direct passage or one with transfers (여정 – Type of Journey).
There are only two options: 직통 / 환승 – Direct / Transfer. Select the one most appropriate.
The next option is for kind of train (열차종류– Kind of train).
This screen has many options: 전체 / KTX / 새마을호 / 누리로 / 무궁화호 / 공항직통 / 통근열차 – Kind of train > All / KTX / Saemaeul / Nooriro / Mugunghwa / Airport Direct / Commuter Train. The default is for all available trains and my recommendation for selection. If you’re familiar with Korean trains, then it’s possible to narrow down the list.
The next option allows users to select their desired departure time (출발일시 – Departure Date and Time).
Simply move the wheels to the desired date and starting hour. Remember that Korea uses a 24-hour clock for time; therefore, 1pm is 13시 and 10pm is 22시. A simple rule is to add 12 to the PM time. 00시 refers to midnight.
The next two options (출발역 – Departure Station; 도착역 – Destination Station) set the route. Unfortunately they are entirely in Korean.
Thankfully, the screens for both the departure station and destination station are the same. For this portion of the booking process, some knowledge of Hangeul is required. This can either mean being able to read it, or being able to recognize it from a list. Tapping a name adds it to the booking process. The stations located at the top of the menu are for the closest stations.
The next selection screen is optional, 좌석종류 – Seating Type.
Unless one is very particular about where one sits or has special needs, this menu item isn’t needed. However, if one does need to specify certain needs, this is the screen to do it. Three options are available and are translated below. Simply scroll and place the icon in the center that is desired. The pictures give one a great idea of what one is booking if you can’t read Korean.
순방 / 역방 – Tour or Reserved Seating
1인 / 창측 / 내측 – Single / Window / Seated Together
유아동반 / 노트북 / 휠체어 / 전동휠체어 / 교통약자 - With children / Computer / Wheelchair / Motorized Wheelchair / Pregnant
The last screen is for booking the number of tickets.
Drag your finger from left to right to make human images appear. The application limits your selection to no more than 9 reservations. The top slot is for adults (어른), middle for children (어린이), and bottom for elderly (경로).
Once all the information is entered, tap the blue bar at the bottom to see a list of available trains meeting your search requirements.
The screen will show (hopefully) several options. The leftmost column is the type of train and number. The next shows the departure station and time. This is followed by the arrival station and time. To select a train, tap it. If you haven’t been prompted to log into the GLORY Membership program, you’ll be asked to do so.
Complete the top box with your 10-digit membership number and the second with your PIN. You should then see a ticket reservation screen.
If available, the buttons at the bottom will allow you to select the car/seat when traveling. For ease of selection choose the 일반실 and make a selection if necessary. You may be prompted to log in here if you haven’t yet. For some reason, there are multiple login points. With a reservation made, it’s now time to pay. The first screen allows an individual the opportunity to enter a Point Card number (top box), but the second item is the most important – the credit card data.
The first two rows of information should be easy enough to understand. Enter your 15 or 16 digit credit card number in the top row and its expiration month/year in the next. The next item it requests (비밀번호) is the first two digits of your credit card’s mobile banking PIN. Finally, you’ll need to enter the last 7 digits of your Korean ID (인증번호). With all this entered, tap the bottom right button (입력완료) to confirm your selection. The application will revert back to the previous screen with the payment entered. Simply click the confirm button.
The next step in the process is to tap on the 예약내역 (Issue ticket) icon. This is located on the application’s home screen. It’s the one that looks like a crumpled up piece of paper on the middle, right side. Once selected, you’ll be taken to a screen with all your reservations.
Tap the desired reservation.
The screen shows all the information related to the ticket you’ve purchased. The third red item (결제여부) will note if payment has been confirmed. If it has, the display will show YES. If not, call KORAIL and see what the problem may be. The final step in getting your mobile ticket is to tap the bottom right area (발권). This is your electronic ticket.
You can access this ticket any time from the 승차권 확인 (Ticket confirmation) menu item on the home screen (middle, left). One can also tap the ticket to copy it to the iPhone’s clipboard or take a screen shot. This is all there is to it. If you have any problems, call KORAIL. The English speaking option is 7. One other feature on the home screen may come in handy: 가까운역 찾기 (Locate Station). This icon rests in the lower left and looks like a locomotive inside a magnifying class. This feature uses the iPhone’s GPS to locate the four closest train stations (north, south, east, and west).
The iPhone app is free, and if nothing else, will provide an excellent way of looking up train schedules.