Lucky Number 5

Outside the customs checkpoint at Kimpo Airport, eager Koreans craned their necks to peer anxiously through the electric sliding doors that opened like a theatre curtain whenever someone came out. JT was lurking in the background and came forward only when he saw the solitary light-skinned traveler emerge.

"Well, if it isn't my old roommate I've got to go all the way to Korea just to see." I greeted him with a hug.
"You want to take a taxi, bus, subway, what?" JT asked.
"All roads lead to Seoul, baby."
"Subway it is."

The number five line, the purple line, was one of the newest in Seoul at the time. It runs from out west of the airport clear across the huge sprawl of Seoul. The purple line is still clean and doesn't yet smell like garlic, piss, 소주, or puke. It also runs right through the neighborhood where JT lives and works. It's almost never crowded, it’s perfectly safe, it costs less than 50 cents for a one way ticket, it's a great way to commute.

"Our stop is Omokkyo. An easy way to remember it is, this is line five, get off at Omokkyo, and take exit number five. Five is the magic number. OK?"

"OK." I didn't feel like telling JT that Omokkyo also means "Five Tree Bridge," another magic five, but I was certain I could find my way around.

It was evening in 목동when we came up on to the street from Omokkyo Station exit number five. Immediately there on the left was Skylark, an American style family restaurant still under construction. Another half block down on the left, near a video store no larger than a minivan, was a basement bar called "Green." JT was intrigued by Green because he had followed a beautiful girl down there once and was denied entrance at the door by a man who said nothing, just shook his head. In the smoky dark of Green, JT had seen TV screens with what looked like naked Korean girls on them so I promised we'd go on a fact-finding tour after I got settled.

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