28cm’ like a cliff on the two wheels

Country/area: South Korea

Organisation: Kyunghyang Shinmun

Organisation size: Big

Publication date: 15/09/2021

Credit: Hyung-guk Cho, Yujin Kim, Sumin Lee


Kyunghyang Shinmun data journalism team was newly established in June 2021. The team is interested in social changes and problem phenomena that can be identified by data, protecting minorities, and increasing human rights. The team won the 2021 Korea Data Journalism ‘Data Visualization of the Year’ Award.

Project description:

By visualizing data on the platform spacing of the Seoul Metro, dangerous areas were found. Of the 1,8856 platforms in 268 subway stations, all platforms with a distance of 10cm or more were surveyed. It turned out that platform safety regulations were not exceptionally followed. Only 28 of the 296 subway stations (10.57%) are subject to the law, while the rest are not subject to the law.

Impact reached:

The problem of subway platform spacing and difficulties faced by the vulnerable is frequently reported every year or on a regular basis in the form of parliamentary audit materials, press releases by the Seoul Metropolitan Council, or “Try using public transportation from the perspective of the vulnerable.”
The report is differentiated in that it approached from the legal and institutional aspects of why the dangerous platform spacing problem was not resolved, revealed the problem of illegitimate laws that could not keep up with reality, allowed readers to feel the danger by checking the actual spacing of individual platforms.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government has drawn up a budget for a pilot project for automatic safety scaffolding for subway platforms in 2022.

Techniques/technologies used:

We drew interactive SVG elements for showing how many accidents occur at subway stations, and the gap of subway and platform called ‘crevasse’ by the vulnerable.

What was the hardest part of this project?

The accident data with feet falling out was compared with the platform spacing data. Efforts have been made to refine data formed in different forms into comparable forms. It was a process of confirming the natural common sense of “getting hurt more in a wider place.”
It was also accompanied by a process of checking why the Seoul Transportation Corporation’s solution did not work at the actual site. Many companies challenged the project during the coverage process, but it was also confirmed that innovation had been frustrated during the sluggish discussion of the Seoul Transportation Corporation. All of their testimonies were confirmed in the minutes of the Seoul Metropolitan Council over 10 years and in the contents of the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s audit.
The disabled and the Seoul Transportation Corporation were in the process of filing a lawsuit. The Seoul Metro’s response to “no additional protective measures can be taken” was solid. The grounds for not being able to install automatic safety scaffolds consisted of expertise. Faithful coverage was supported to respond to the logic of the Seoul Metro that “we did nothing wrong.”

What can others learn from this project?

The platform spacing may be a trivial problem encountered in everyday life. However, visualizing this, searching for legal regulations, and adding problems faced by the vulnerable in the field make it a problem of institutions, policies, and social norms. We want to be evaluated for paying attention to the small number of daily lives and leading to social problems.

Project links: