“Men sitting with legs wide open”, “women putting on makeup” and “people wearing backpacks” are reported as top three vices on the subway.
A worker Kim (27) who has a 2-hour daily commute by subway always looks around whenever she is on the subway to avoid people wearing backpacks. Ms. Kim is about 160cm tall. If someone who is 175-180cm tall and wearing a backpack stands in front of her, the backpack touches her face. Ms. Kim said, “There are many times when a person wearing a backpack just passes by not knowing that their backpack hit my face or body. It really makes me upset. Being stuck amongst all these backpacks, my way to work is even harder.”
More and more people using public transportation are complaining about “backpack-phobia”. Thanks to the popularization of tablets, laptops, and outdoor sports clothing, more and more people are wearing backpacks. According to many, backpacks are often causing arguments.
The leaders of the bad manners are the “backpack tribe,” a term that refers to people who wear backpacks that block the way for other passengers, “wide-open men” who sit with their legs spread wide apart, and “makeup girls” who do their makeup on the bus or train.
On March 9th, in one car of a subway line 2, where lots of students and workers ride every day, about 20 passengers wearing backpacks were tangled up with other people. The width of a subway car is 1.3 meters, and when a man wearing a backpack was standing with his back to the aisle, it was hard for even one person to make their way through. One middle-aged woman was moving to another car. Annoyed, she pushed people wearing backpacks out of her way.
A hiking backpack with trekking poles or climbing irons can be a weapon threatening people’s safety. Mr. Cheon (44), a bus driver in Seoul, said, “One drunk climber was staggering in a bus and a trekking pole sticking out from his backpack hit another passenger’s head and poked a passenger’s eye. This happens sometimes and it starts fights.”
In a bus running through a certain course with lots of climbers, Seoul government is also making this announcement: “When a bus is crowded, take care that your mountain climbing equipment, backpacks, or irons from backpacks not to harm other passengers.”
However, among people wearing backpacks, it is not common to acknowledge the inconvenience caused by backpacks and to try have good manners. A university student Mr. Jeong(26) said, “If I put my backpack on the shelf or on the floor, I need to keep an eye on it thinking, what if other people take my bag. So I feel safe when I’m wearing a backpack on my back. I don’t think wearing my backpack is causing any troubles to others.”
Foreigners living in Korea say that, “Koreans are not even able to believe that their backpacks might cause an inconvenience.
Mr. Ogino from Japan (29) said, “Since I was young, I have been taught not to give trouble to others. So I put down my backpack if it is big. Before taking a crowded subway, I hold my backpack in my hand.”
In the case of Tokyo Metro in Japan, since 2004 it has made backpack etiquette posters showing a variety of possible situations. In one poster, for example, a man is wearing a big backpack with the phrase, “Let’s wear it on a mountain.” On another poster, an office worker wearing a backpack is bothering a child standing behind him, but pretending he doesn’t know anything. In this poster, there is the phrase, “Adults, have good manners! The children are watching!”
In 2013, RATP(the Regie Autonome des Transports Parisiens)’s etiquette poster brought up the issue by caricaturing a man wearing a backpack as a tortoise wearing a backpack instead of its shell.
Comments from Naver:
In this case, you can push a backpack with your shoulder as hard as you can.
I think a campaign is needed asking people to wear their backpacks on their front or to hold them in their hands.. I’m often annoyed by those kinds of people wearing backpacks.
University students find it hard to use university lockers, which is connected to lots of books inside a backpack. Where has the school tuition gone then?
University student Jeong is the cause of the problem.[He is a son of representative Jeong Mong-jun [Chung Mong-joon], and he made trouble describing Korean people as “uncivilized” before his father’s election.]
Since a few years ago I have been wearing my backpack on the front. There are still those kind of people.
Rather than those backpacks, I think ajummas are the worst problem, pushing and not waiting for people to get off. Why can’t they wait for a few seconds? I don’t understand people pushing others who are getting off.
I understand that a man spreading his legs open is bad manners, but is a woman putting on makeup really making trouble?
I also wear a backpack but I haven’t thought about others. I will be more careful.
I’m living in Canada. People here automatically hold their backpacks in their hands if the subway is a bit crowded. Even though this is trivial, an attitude of considering others shows an aspect of a developed country. Whenever I visit Korea, what I always find is people seemed to be annoyed. There is no consideration for elderly people, and high school students are swearing. This how I feel about Korea.
Rather than backpacks, I hate ajummas pushing against me even though there is a little bit of room still.
Now even wearing a backpack is considered bad manners.
I have an experience of a 190 cm tall guy hitting me with his backpack. I have no idea whether those people have no brains or neglect backpack issues because they are lazy, but if a backpack is big, please take it off. There is little space to stand. You guys should think of others behind you being hit by your backpacks even if you move a little bit.
A person who doesn’t think he is making any inconvenience to others is because he hasn’t experienced any problems caused by backpacks. Have you ever been hit by a backpack? A backpack owner has no idea of it. Because it usually happens in a crowded place, I find it hard to say something to him and it really makes me upset. A backpack owner behaves in such a way only thinking about himself and forgetting he wore a backpack, he doesn’t know that other people feel bothered because of him. He thinks that he doesn’t mean to make trouble, it means he shouldn’t feel sorry for what he has done.
I’m a university student wearing a backpack. I belatedly realized that backpacks cause so many troubles. I wear a backpack to carry my heavy books. I think there are lots of students who don’t know that a backpack can cause inconvenience, it’s not that they are mean.
On the bus, my face was hit by a student’s backpack. It was really painful. For me the backpack was just like a weapon.
I’m wearing a backpack but I didn’t know that I can cause trouble for others. I will be careful.