Couplegate: ‘Brainless Couple’ Makes Appearance on Busan Subway

Couplegate train sleeping

There must be something in the water in Busan. Hot on the heels of horny bus couple’s amorous antics, the Busan public transport network has already spawned another “Couplegate” (in keeping with koreaBANG’s following of the “Ladygate” trend), after a netizen posted a photograph of a woman laying across several train seats with her head in a man’s lap. But don’t get ahead of yourselves: it’s not quite what it seems.

The emergence of a photograph showing the couple reclining on the seats in a subway carriage, as though they were at home and not, in fact, on a train, has roused much debate amongst Korean netizens. Furthermore, the couple were hardly love-sick teenagers; most netizens are estimating that the pair are long-time lovers in their mid-forties or early fifties. Perhaps they were looking for a way of spicing things up. After all, falling asleep on a train with your feet up on the seat is pretty risque.

According to a Kuki News article reposted on Nate, the story broke on May 19, when a netizen commented “I saw this brainless couple on the subway” along with a picture, on a portal site internet board:

When I rode the subway on the morning of the 18th, at Hadan station in Busan, there was a couple who I guess must have been in their early forties, sitting across from me. But the woman suddenly removed her shoes, curled up with her head on her husband’s lap, and began to sleep.

The unnamed netizen continued:

As more and more seats were occupied, everyone was staring at them but the couple didn’t care […] A group of about five foreigners got on the train, and as soon as they saw the scene they started laughing and pointing. The Koreans were so embarrassed.

The woman stayed in that position for some time, much to the chagrin of fellow passengers who tried to sit down, though she was eventually woken up by the man. The netizen who originally uploaded the photograph expressed shock at seeing the couple, despite the fact that they were not doing anything particularly racy:

You usually see things like ‘Subway xx girl’ come up in the real-time search rankings on portal sites, but I had no idea that I’d directly witness this kind of scene.

And the impact of the man and his reclining muse did not end there. A Segye Ilbo headline followed netizens in referring to the couple as “an embarrassment to Korea,” and indeed most netizens have been critical of the couple’s purportedly public display of affection. Some netizen reactions cited in the article were:

Shame of the nation

Seems like the subway is increasingly turning into a space for weirdos

They really acted brainlessly in the subway where there are lots of people.

Netizen comments range from those who are outraged at the decline of public morality to those who really don’t see what the fuss is about. Seeing as May 21 is ‘Married Couples’ Day’ in South Korea, maybe they should go easy on the pair.

From Nate:


That’s another one of those where they say ‘human rights’ and blur out their faces, isn’t it… tut tut Next time, let’s not hide their faces to make them know some shame.


Wretched beggar couple.


Are they senile?


Please don’t take secret photographs — say something there and then! Total losers.


These bold people are going to do their damnedest to make another witch-hunt. On the weekend when you have no appointments, you’re about to do some typing but you have a weak moment, right? My aunt really suffers with her hips and if she has to sit down for a long time it’s difficult for her. She will leave hospital soon, but she’s still not really right, and now she’s having a difficult time because of the rehabilitation treatment. Is it such a crime that my aunt’s husband might say to my aunt that the poor thing should lie down for a bit just because there are no people on the subway? Foreigners were laughing, so you’re embarrassed? You who put the photo up and then wrote those bad things are more shameful. And you who look at the comments which are imagined by a single person and from a single photograph, and who kill a person with your keyboard when you’re eating dinner in the middle of the night inside your house, you are also shameful. Please don’t live like that, seriously.


They’re not a couple…aren’t they mother and son?


No, while you take a photo like that and snigger, I guess you have to put it up on a portal site, right~Wonder what would happen if you make an article directly out of whatever you’re thinking..? Is it a special feature of Koreans that they talk about you behind your back? Although they can’t exert any influence to your face, they go behind your back, upload articles on portal sites, slyly, and though I’d never do it myself, there are certain people who do, it seems. Having said that, if you look at them raising hell, it’s not particularly pleasant to see.


Some are saying that we should find out who they are on the internet, seems like bullshit to me. Look at the bitch’s body. Is that thing a man or a woman ㅡㅡ ???????????????????????????


Honestly, I wonder why there are so many people in this country who are attention-seekers?


Anyway, women are the problem everywhere. They say that when the hen cries the household is ruined, and seems like at some point Korea will be ruined because of women. Must be why our ancestors used to say that women and pollacks should be beaten every three days.. I can’t help but express respect for this lofty wisdom and insight.


Please act your age.


There is that woman for that man, right?


Isn’t that a mother and son? The woman looks like she’s in her fifties…


ㅡ,ㅡ;;;; Goodness me….I’m at such a loss for words.. No matter how ill-educated you are, would you do that???


Sure they’re Koreans?


What are they doing at their age?


I mean…it’s true that those people are brainless, but it’s not something that should be publicly criticised, is it…it’s not like it’s the people’s court…I really think it would be best to stop doing this…


What the hell is real, what should we netizens believe? When you write these things, Mr. Journalist, could you please confirm the original source? I mean, if it’s not something that the journalist is writing themselves. We don’t know whether netizens said these things or not, we don’t even know whether the original said that or not, do we? When I look at the article comments below, I’m extremely confused.


What the hell…those people…they have brains, don’t they…Whether you’re in your forties or in your teens, you don’t do that kind of thing…Those we call elders are like this so…because of several people like that, the fact is that our country is being recognised by foreigners as a strange country…do those people realise that?


If you want to do that kind of thing, go to a neighbourhood motel, what kind of national embarrassment is this, it’s a topic of discussion overseas…seriously.


Fuck, look at their sagging bellies….Move a bit, you’re like pigs.

Share This Article
Help us maintain a vibrant and dynamic discussion section that is accessible and enjoyable to the majority of our readers. Please review our Comment Policy »
  • alex

    Lame KoreaBang sucks this past month… just stories from the subway, lame incidents with ‘gate’ appended to seem like some sort of interesting scandal… who really gives a shit about someone reclining on relatively empty subway?

    • Justin_C

      and Alex, you just won the 2000th comment!!! (you actually did)
      any comment on how to improve or what you would like to see more of?
      sorry, no Girls Gen. Nothing personal, just internal policy :p

    • Beth

      I agree, Alex, that someone reclining on a subway is not really that bad, but actually the netizen who posted the original comment and photograph spawned articles in every major news source, not to mention being referenced in numerous blogs, tweets, and so on. So I guess that’s why we decided to cover it. But as Justin mentioned, we’d appreciate your suggestions!

    • James

      Alex, in case you didn’t notice (you didn’t notice) there’s a hint of irony in the fact that this is considered a “scandal” in the first place.

      Exactly! Who cares about people putting their feet up on the tube, no-one. That is, no-one outside of Korea cares about it. However, these stories, like it or not, have been all over the Korean media, presumably because that’s what’s been of interest to people. If we were to just dig around for more disgusting stories, we wouldn’t be representing what’s happening on the Korean internet. Just so happens, it was a busy month on the subway. That’s why we wrote about it here.

    • alex

      Yeah thats fair enough guys, and you’re totally right about saying if the netizens are talking about it then its the purpose of the site to report on it – after all thats why we come here. Looking back over the past few pages theres actually a very decent mix of tabloid and interesting articles.

      I was too quick to whine at another subway story – if anything I should have directed my whine at the netizens ha, my bad.

      • James

        Might just have to let you live after all.

    • I do.

  • God

    한기성 says: “Must be why our ancestors used to say that women and pollacks should be beaten every three days.. I can’t help but express respect for this lofty wisdom and insight.”

    Because beating women will fix everything… the man is clearly responsible for this ‘behavior’, he is after all acting as her ‘pillow’. Makes you think who the real brainless people are…

  • Brett Sanbon

    Why cant I post??

    • James

      Um… you are?

      OMG Brett Sanbon’s having an existential crisis! Nooo!

      • Brett Sanbon

        I just tried replying to Beth 3 times but none went through… 헉

        • James

          Beth can be like that, you’ve got to shout a bit louder and, more importantly, speak slowly. She’s Welsh you know.

          • Brett Sanbon

            Lol it just happened again, only I tried to start my own thread…. Whatever I will wait til I get off the subway. Why doesnt anything crazy ever happen during the morning rush hour? I wanna post the next ladygate or couple-buster.

          • James

            Brett you could be our Ladygate scout!

            I think your comments were being flushed away by our spam bot because they had links in them. Try writing 뭐뭐 dot com in the future.

          • Brett Sanbon

            Mmmm got it. I was actually thinking of doing that before I posted but I decided against it. Thanks for checking.

          • Beth

            Actually I think you’ll find that this week I have mainly been “French Beth.” But the above still applies. Loud and slow. Loud and s-l-o-w.

  • Brett Sanbon

    To Beth: cSMACK just got some requests for human interest pieces.. Maybe kBANG can do a weekly write up on interesting vacation spots, restaurants, bars, pensions…etc. in Korea.

    Have you ever visited They do similar stories, but kBANG’s could be….spicier.

    • Justin_C
      • Brett Sanbon

        I know, thats why I posted it as an example… But I think kBANG could take it to the next level. Find a way to get us involved with surveys or asking to post our craziest stories in the comment sections… I don’t have anything too specific in mind. As long as it is original, no more than once a week (even twice a month), and pertains to Korea, I think everyone here could enjoy the stories.

        Anyways I am going to take Jame’s advice and be the Ladygate scout. I take that to mean “when there is no real scandal, snap random shots of girls doing seemingly harmless things and post the ‘devils’ all over the Korean interwebs”.

        • Justin_C

          per your ‘personal submission’ idea…. don’t think Beth has had the pleasure of reporting on “random white guy caught taking upskirt photos of drunken girls on Metro Line 2, speaks in regional accent” and open a whole another Gate category :p

          but then you may earn a special permanent place in Beth’s heart :D

          • Brett Sanbon

            Is that where all the drunk girls hang out? Thanks Justin!!!

          • Beth

            Ah, Brett, sorry about all this comment nonsense…I’m glad you finally got some through! And Justin is correct, I have yet to report on “random white guy caught taking upskirt photos of drunken girls on Metro Line 2, speaks in regional accent” but as far as I can see that story has three of my favourite things: alcohol, public transport, and regional accents. My involvement is pretty much guaranteed.

  • Stories of butts

    Geez man, some of them need to calm their tits. Taking things way too far for just a picture of a women taking up seats.

  • Noori

    It’s scary to see these ‘gate’ stories. There must be tens thousands of hidden photographers out there, searching for a prey. I have a couple of first-hand experience with perverts who tried to take pictures of me. They got away with those actions because there’s no evidence. I wonder why we haven’t seen any hidden photographer gate yet!

  • Anonton

    What is so bad about what they are doing?

    • Stories of butts

      Losing face in front of foreigners, thats what!

      • lonetrey

        losing face this, losing face that.

        Haven’t they realized that commenting like that loses the same amount of face as this couple?

  • Mich’insaeki

    Hey KBangers… concur with alex on this… holy fuck what a bunch of lame ass shit. This this is confirming what has been speculated here before… most ‘netizens’ are unemployed/underemployed young guyz with waaaaay too much time on their hands. Hang in there guyz… you guyz are onto something fuckin huge here. Kbang is one of the best Knewz sites I’ve seen in a decade, I think you guyz have the potential to go huge. Just hang in there and keep on keepin. One suggestion… have you considered doing reverse English-Korean translations to share _our_ perspectives with interested Korean ‘netizens’ to allow them a window into _our_ perspectives on Korea. Keep at it. You guyz rock!!!

    • Brett Sanbon

      Hah, I dont know in regar to how you started your post, but Ive dropped several hints at chinaSMACK to do something similar. If koreaBANG were to retranslate from English to Korean, I would hope the trolls disappear.

      • chucky3176

        There are already sites like that.

        Most of the translations are from Japanese and Chinese sources. But there are English ones as well, mostly positive stuff. Same can’t be said of the Japanese and Chinese translations which are all mostly negative trashing stories on Korea.

      • James

        Something pretty funny happened when we first launched whereby a Chinese blogger translated one of our articles, the comments, and the comments from koreaBANG readers (including me!).

        I think we’re going to stick with the winning formula we have already for now but, by all means, keep suggesting things. We read most comments (unless they’re long-winded rants).

  • lonetrey

    Wowwwwww. That’s pathetic.

    Oh, I’m sorry, I should clarify. The Korean COMMENTS are pathetic. This is just a couple lying on a subway seat. Fuckadoodledoo.

    However, I don’t agree that this article is lame. It’s a good look and indicator of the Korean mindset, and it’s always interesting to see how people come together to act like this.

  • Regina.

    Koreans are turds in the punchbowl. Sticks up their asses. Negative Nancys’. Debbie downers. Fun sucking kill joys.

    • Brett Sanbon

      …while everything you write is so positive.

    • Justin_C

      well, we get to have some fun at their expense, but no need to name-call :)

  • Benjamin Adriance

    There is something in the water in Hadan. It’s called massive pollution.

Personals @ chinaSMACK - Meet people, make friends, find lovers? Don't be so serious!»