The Saemaul Service Gets Renamed!…to ITX-Saemaul


Korail has announced the name of the new Saemaul trains which will begin running in the first half of 2014. After holding a naming competition where 1941 entries were collected, the train has been renamed the “ITX-Saemaul”.


Image: Korail

The new name is disappointing as it is not only unoriginal but just plain confusing. This is because there is already a completely different service named the ITX – Cheongchun, commonly known as the ITX, that runs specifically between Yongsan and Chuncheon. It’s not far-fetched to think that some people will get mixed up between the two services, and I wouldn’t be surprised if people simply continued to call the Saemaul service by its original name. It seems likely that similar medium-high speed services may also use the ITX brand in the future.

The new trains will be electric (EMU-150), replacing the current diesel hydraulic cars and will consist of six carriages with 376 seats. The ITX-Saemaul will be able to reach speeds of 150 km/h and the interior of the trains is expected to be similar to those of the Nuriro service which runs on the Gyeongbu Line. 23 of the trains will begin operating at the beginning of 2014 with pricing, number of services and stops to be announced at a later date.

The Saemaul was originally introduced in 1969 as the “Gwangwang” and was later renamed in 1974 to commemorate the Saemaul movement. It was the fastest service for 30 years until the KTX was introduced in 2004.

While little detailed information about the electric vehicle itself has been released at this time, several design images have been making the rounds, though it cannot be confirmed if these are official at this time.

About This Author

Originally from New Zealand, Andy moved to Korea in 2007 and very quickly became interested in the many different public transport and urban development projects around Korea. He currently lives in Sejong city and is particularly interested in rail projects, transport hubs and technology.


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  • So was “ITX-Saemaul” the competition winner, or were there 1941 entries, none of which were chosen?

    Man, how bad must the other 1940 have been…

    Troo 5 years ago Reply

    • Haha. Supposedly (according to KORAIL) a majority of the entries still included the Saemaul name. But many are skeptical and believe that the name was actually chosen already…which may become apparent if all the services turn out to be renamed ITX-something.

      Andy Tebay 5 years ago Reply

      • It sounds very much like the latter. I doubt anyone thought “Bugger me, ITX-Saemaul would be an awesome name for this train! I better send it in immediately!”

        Troo 5 years ago Reply

  • I like to disapprove of things, but from a branding standpoint, this does make sense. The original ITX has always been branded as ITX 청춘 on all signage, so they definitely had it in mind to call forthcoming trains/lines ITX 뭐뭐. ITX designates the modern, high speed nature of the train after all. Eventually they will probably only have ITX/KTX designations.

    Further, If you give it a completely new name, say “멍청이호” you’re going to have the entire population over 30 wondering wtf it is and wandering around the station searching for 새마을호.

    Ahjumma: Hey, I want to go to Busan on a 새마을호.
    Korail Employee: Okay, here’s your ticket to Busan on 멍청이호
    A: No, no, I want 새마을.
    KE: 멍청이호 replaced 새마을호. Here’s your ticket.
    A: No, no, I want 새마을, 무궁화 is too slow.
    KE: Ma’am, this is the same as 새마을.
    A: Okay.

    **20 minutes later, on the platform**

    A: My 새마을 train was at 10:30, but now it’s 10:40. What’s going on?
    KE: Ma’am, there is no 새마을호 anymore, this is a 멍청이호 ticket. You’re train departed 10 mins ago.
    A: What?

    Don 5 years ago Reply

    • Thanks for your input. :) I agree it’s an okay way to brand the trains this way, but if this was the case then they should have been transparent about it from the start. If they had made this clear then people would expect new ITX services, reducing confusion later on. It would have reduced the negative reaction from the rail community as well. As mentioned in another comment, it seems likely that the name was already chosen, so those who participated in the naming competition feel like they have wasted their time. Most people would have been expecting a new, original name.

      Also. Koreans have dealt with the renaming of services previously, including the Saemaul itself. Considering that the places it will stop, number of services, and pricing will likely be different to the current service, in my opinion it would still seem fair even if the Saemaul name was changed.

      Andy Tebay 5 years ago Reply

  • Holding a naming competition has two major reasons:

    1. To save money: Usually, a professional advertising company would get the task to brand a new product, design the logo and so on. If you use your “fan-base” or users to think about a new name, the company is able to save a lot of money (as long as they are able to provide with a platform for this task, where everybody can easily participate).

    2. To get attention: It’s not so much about the result and even in some cases, the outcome of such events won’t be taken into account later. A competition aggregates a lot of attention and people get informed that a new type of Saemaul will operate in the near future. Actually, this also helps to save some money as the company doesn’t have to advertise the product a lot, because it’s already known through the naming competition.

    Participation of citizens is very important and Korea (esp. the new mayor of Seoul) provides a number of ways for citizens to express their will and discuss certain issues.

    The problem that a completely new name might be confusing can be easily prevented by putting up the old name in brackets on the sign for the first six months. Like this: 뭐뭐뭐 (새마을)

    Indeed, the new name isn’t very inventive but it enhances the title “ITX” (Does it stand for Inter-Train-eXpress/ Intercity-Train-eXpress?) in a hierarchical system. 1. KTX, 2. ITX, 3. 무궁화호.

    Nikola 5 years ago Reply

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