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I Am the Subway

I rattle and clatter over the tracks. Same time, same route, every day. Carrying people from one place to another, I travel over the ground and rumble under, twice across the wide Han River. Around I go, around and around. Crowds of people wait to climb aboard. ba-dum, ba-dum…”

These words unfold across the first pages of this beautiful new picture book about the Seoul subway network before you even arrive at the title page that introduces you to the narrator… the train itself.


This is a unique and clever perspective, but what makes this book truly special are the stories of the passengers as they catch the train. They include familiar scenes of everyday life as well as passengers’ poignant inner thoughts. Sometimes the stories of passengers knit together as the narrative unfolds across the pages, and readers will delight in seeing new riders join passengers we’ve already met in the gorgeous watercolor illustrations.

“I’m running late again; I don’t want to miss my train. Dashing past other people, through the ticket stile, I take the stairs three or four at a time, all the way to the platform! In school I could win the relay race even when my team was coming last. These days my daughter makes me late for work. A the end of the day I always leave first, to run home and see her smile.”

When I was born, my father gave me a beautiful name: Do meaning ‘ceramic’, young meaning ‘jade marble’. He chose this name so my heart would be filled with bright shining things, even if this couldn’t be seen on the outside. I am Lee Do-young, 29 this year. Everybody has places to go, things to do, but not me. I’m looking for a job. I’m not sure what’s next. Who will I become? “

This book was written and illustrated by Kim Hyo-eun who won the 2021 World Illustration Award in the Professional Children’s Publishing category for her masterful work in this book. The book also earned The New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children’s Books Award. It was translated into English by Deborah Smith.

This book will appeal to all ages and begs to be read again and again.

The unique lives of strangers you might never meet again ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-dum are all around you, every time you take the train.”

To explore the Seoul Subway Network, visit their website. You can download a map, and find all the stops mentioned in this book!

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