While many are quick to point towards its addictive dramas, gripping cinema, and its thriving music scene, one crucial yet under-recognised part of the Korean Wave is its increasing influence on sports on the global stage.
Whether it be the likes of football favourites Son Heung-min, Park Ji-sung and Kim Min-jae, baseball star Ryu Hyun-jin, or its dominance in golf with players such as Park Inbee and K.J. Choi, Korea has a strong sporting presence on the international stage and visiting Korea can offer a lot to sports enthusiasts. We asked our regional specialist, Matt, to brief us on some of the most popular sporting activities in Seoul, to help you and your students make the most of a sports trip to Korea!
Seoul World Cup Stadium
Sitting on Line 6 of the Seoul subway system is the Seoul World Cup Stadium (aka. Sangam World Cup Stadium), one of eight grounds purposely-built for 2002 World Cup where co-hosts South Korea made a historic run to the competition’s semi-finals. The second-largest of the eight, Seoul World Cup Stadium is home to K-League side FC Seoul these days, but is often selected as the venue for international matches, as well as concerts and even e-sports finals, making it a must-visit pilgrimage for K-Pop fans and League of Legends lovers alike!
To truly understand how large this 66,000-seater capacity stadium is, you should also know that is home to a cinema, a supermarket, a wedding centre, and even a spa! However, as you’re here for the sports, you will be pleased to know that you can take a stadium tour to see the pitch, changing rooms and facilities, and head out of the tunnel where many international stars have done so before.
You could even time your visit for a match day and see Korea’s premier capital club in action! Furthermore, you can bring in your own food and drink so, as a pro-trip, why not head back to the aforementioned supermarket and see what they have available? You can even pick up team merchandise from the nearby club shop so you can look the part. It’s open on matchdays, and also from Tuesday to Saturday. If you’re looking for a sporting souvenir, then perhaps a local club shirt with Hangeul (the Korean alphabet) on the back would be just what you’re after!
The Seoul World Cup Stadium also hosts Football Faentasium, an interactive museum and exhibit dedicated to Korea’s footballing history and future. Korea is one of only four countries to have qualified for the last 10 World Cups, and here it proudly flaunts its history. There are also VR exhibits, a football-chant-themed singing room, and plenty of photo opportunities.
Those looking for classic Korean National Team kits and other sporting souvenirs can find some in the post-exhibit store along with other souvenirs, but for those wanting the latest jersey, you will need to head further afield to the Nike flagship store near Gangnam Station.
Jamsil Baseball Stadium
For those not enticed by the offerings of football, Korea’s other most popular sport is baseball, with the KBO League proving quite the draw come the weekend. Seoul has a number of teams with two of the division’s most iconic (Doosan Bears and LG Twins) sharing one stadium over in Jamsil. Like football, bringing in your own food and drinks is allowed and inside the stadium, plus there are a number of restaurants inside to stop you from going hungry. The games themselves tend to be entertaining affairs, made more so by the cheering sections, giveaways and, of course, the baseball on display!
You can reach Jamsill Baseball Stadium at the Sports Complex stadium via Line 2 and Line 9, exit 6, and also see Seoul’s impressive Olympic Stadium next door from the 1988 Olympics as you head to the game. You can also take a short 15-minute subway journey afterwards to stroll and relax in Seoul’s Olympic Park, taking in its impressive Peace Gate.
For those wanting to get kitted out in their new-found favourite team’s caps and shirts, you can do so at the team stores located inside and outside the stadium.
After watching the action, why not take a swing at it yourself? Dotted around the capital, you can find a number of batting cages to head into, put on a helmet and pick up a bat. It makes for an entertaining group activity, meaning that it’s a perfect excursion for a school sports trip to Korea.
For those interested in martial arts, travelling to the country that developed Taekwondo certainly offers exciting opportunities. Taekwondo has a long history, dating back over 2,000 years, and requires dedication to its mastery. While your short visit may not allow you to reach that level, it can certainly have you breaking boards!
However, for those wanting to watch the pros, you can arrange to pay a visit to Kukkiwon, aka Taekwondo’s World Headquarters, and witness a demonstration performance that will leave you in awe. Regardless, though, no sports trip to Korea is complete without a bit of Taekwondo!
While baseball and football certainly dominate, Korea has a strong liking for golf and, despite central Seoul lacking the space for a course, many still manage to squeeze in 9 or 18 holes by heading to their local screen golf for an evening. Saving on space and allowing more practice scenarios, flexibility and proximity than your standard driving range, screen golf is an increasingly popular option in South Korea that allows you to take a swing at a projected screen while sensors and moving plates read the swing you’ve taken.
For those starting out with golf, screen golf is a lot more approachable, friendly and fun – not to mention weather-proof! It lets you and several friends take on courses of your choice in your own room. Swing actual clubs, hit real golf balls and let technology calculate exactly where your shot will land. Club rental is available along with a number of snacks and refreshments to enjoy, whilst watching your friends try to dig their way out of a bunker.
If you’re interested in learning more about Korea school trips, visit our destination page here. All of our tours can be customized to meet your needs.
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