Taking a bus ride down memory lane
Jung Hwa-suk, 37, in a maroon uniform, helps about 10 passengers aboard, sometimes holding their hands or taking their baggage.
“Thank you for using our bus service. I’ll get you to your destination safely,” she says.
In a throwback to the 1970s, Taean County in South Chungcheong province has re-introduced bus hostesses, hoping to attract more tourists.
On Jan. 25, the county office offered a demonstration to visiting reporters.
“All right!” said Ms. Jung, and the bus pulled out of the terminal in Nammun Village at 10 a.m. sharp.
Several passengers smiled and said, “Seeing a bus hostess for the first time in a long while is new but pleasant.”
Ms. Jung sported a maroon beanie and carried a leather bag for money and tickets. As the bus wended through the countryside, she cordially alerted passengers of the stops.
“This is Geunheung Village Office. Is anybody getting off?”
Ten minutes later, Ms. Jung’s voice got louder. “The bus is coming to a stop.” A woman in her 60s stepped out the rear door, clutching a bundle. Ms. Jung gave her a hand, then slapped the side of bus to announce the departure. “All right!”
The inside of the bus was decorated with old Korean movie posters such as ‘“Gogyo Yalgae” (A Joker in High School) and “March of Fools” from the 1970s and 80s. The exterior of the bus reads, “Seaside Tour to the Reminiscent Past.”
The bus with a hostess begins its official service from February. It runs from the Nammun Village terminal to Chaeseokpo Harbor and Yeonpo Beach, making 35 stops on its 25-kilometer route, passing 5 harbors and 2 beaches on the way.
The bus stops at Jeongjuk Village in Geunheung County, where “Bungee Jumping of Their Own” was filmed, and at Yeonpo Beach, where “March of Fools” and the Korean TV drama “Sad Love Story” was shot.
The local office plans to expand the number of buses with hostesses if the reaction of visitors is favorable. Ms. Jung works for the bus company, but the local office pays her monthly wage of 1.3 million won ($1,340).
Local residents welcome the new service. Lee Ju-bun, 60, a passenger, said, “It’s exciting to see a bus hostess like I used to see 20 years ago. And, it’s more convenient as she carries heavy baggage.”
by Kim Bang-hyeon
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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