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At the old ball game

Going to the ballpark fast becoming national pastime

On June 21, Friday afternoon, the roads near Jamsil baseball stadium in southern Seoul were packed.

Men and women sporting replica uniforms of their favorite players stood in line to get in. It was the day when Seoul-based Doosan Bears took on the Daejeon-based Hanwha Eagles.

The game started right on time at 6:30 p.m. While players on the mound fought their hearts out for another win, die-hard fans screamed out the names of the players, made waves with their hands and sang cheering songs, mostly revised versions of popular songs such as Psy’s “Gangnam Style,” Bruno Mars’ “Marry You,” ABBA’s “Honey Honey” and others. Couples would giggle when their faces were captured on the large screen for “kiss time” ― but hardly anyone refused to display their affection in public.
Fans cheer at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on June 21 at the baseball game between the Hanwha Eagles and the Doosan Bears. (Bae Ji-sook/The Korea Herald)
Fans cheer at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on June 21 at the baseball game between the Hanwha Eagles and the Doosan Bears. (Bae Ji-sook/The Korea Herald)

Whenever a good hit was made, the fans’ faces turned red and the screaming rose to a new level. The leggy cheerleaders onstage propelled the excitement and a home run made two strangers hug and jump for joy while a foul brought despair. A foul ball would quickly cause a stir among the audience eager to fetch the ball, but it usually go to an avid child fan as a courtesy.

Some, quite relaxed, mostly office workers celebrating the end of a long week, were enjoying time of their own with the classic outdoor snack ― fried chicken and beer. Alongside the alleys, part-time beer vendors were looking out for those wanting cold beer for 4,000 won, right from the tap.
A man buys snacks from a vendor in front of Jamsil Stadium. (Bae Ji-sook/The Korea Herald)
A man buys snacks from a vendor in front of Jamsil Stadium. (Bae Ji-sook/The Korea Herald)

“I just love the atmosphere. What better way can there be to spend a Friday evening than sipping beer over fried chicken and sharing a good laugh?” said Bae Ji-eun, a school teacher.

Watching baseball has become something of a national pastime over the past several years. The Korea Baseball Organization expects the number of attendants this season to exceed 7.5 million.
Since the KBO was created in 1982, baseball has developed into a highly popular spectator sport with fans supporting teams from their cities ― Doosan, LG and Nexen of Seoul; SK of Incheon; Hanwha of Daejeon; Kia from Gwangju; Samsung from Daejeon; NC from Changwon; and Lotte from Busan.

Good seats are sold within minutes of ticket opening while some eager fans travel to other cities to cheer on their away team. “I cannot imagine my life without Kia,” said Na In-ho, a die-hard Kia Tigers fan. “I am going to marry a Kia fan so that our son will wear Kia uniform and nothing else. It will be weird to even imagine him in an LG or a Lotte uniform,” he said.

Most people agree that the light-hearted way of watching baseball games has contributed to the boost in the number of baseball fans. “I say any winners are my team,” said Kim Ha-young, a 32-year-old office worker.

“When I see the ball fly up in the sky, when I have my friends around sharing beer and laughter, I feel happy. That’s why I am here,” she said.

Baseball game tickets can be purchased at or at the ticket kiosk at ballparks. Schedules are available at

By Bae Ji-sook (

Baseball stadiums

Jamsil Stadium

Home to Doosan Bears and LG Twins

This is the largest baseball stadium in the country.

Those sitting in the Cle Dore seats can get free Cle Dore ice cream.

A plaque near Sports Complex Station Exit 5 marks Kim Dong-ju of Doosan’s out-of-the-park homer (150 meters) in 2000.

10 Jamsil-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul

(02) 2240-1777 (Doosan)

(02) 1644-4961~2 (LG)

Mokdong Stadium

Home to Nexen Heroes

Stadium has no bleachers. Instead, all seats are equipped with armrests and cup holders.

914 Mok 1-dong, Yangcheon-gu, Seoul

(02) 2652-3888

Munhak Stadium

Home to SK Wyverns

The stadium is famous for its area where people can enjoy the ball game over a barbecue and a beer. Those wishing to grill should bring electrical cooking devices and food. Nearby E-Mart often provides free pork belly as a promotion.

There is also a party deck, 40 skyboxes and other facilities for group visitors to enjoy the game.

482 Munhak-don, Nam-gu, Incheon

(032) 456-2114

Hanbat Stadium

Home to Hanwha Eagles

The stadium is famous for udon and yeolmu (young radish) noodles, which are rapidly emerging as a local delicacy.

177 Busa-dong, Jung-gu, Daejeon

(042) 630-8200

Daegu Stadium

Home to Samsung Lions

6 Goseong-dong 3-ga, Bukgu, Daegu

(053) 606-8200

Mudeung Stadium

Home to Kia Tigers

The stadium is a historic site where bus and taxi drivers started a pro-democracy uprising against the military regime in May 1980. A plan for building a new stadium is underway.

316 Im-dong, Buk-gu, Gwangju

(070) 7686-8000

Sajik Stadium

Home to Lotte Giants

Home to one of the most enthusiastic fans of baseball, anything ― from newspapers to plastic garbage bags ― can become a cheering tool.

Fast food joint Lotteria here has a special menu, “Ajura (Gyeongsang dialect for ‘Give it to the kid’)” chicken package asking fans to yield foul or home run balls to children.

930 Sajik-dong, Dongrae-gu, Busan

(051) 505-7422

Changwon Stadium

Home to NC Dinos

The stadium was the first in the country to install a safety net so that the fans can watch the games without worrying about getting hit by the ball.

477 Yangdeok-dong, Masahoewon-gu, Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province

(055) 220-6590

Cheongju Stadium

Second home to Hanwha Eagles

888-1 Sajik-dong, Heungdeok-gu, Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province

(043) 279-4667

Wolmyeong Stadium

Second home to Kia Tigers

164-1 Sajeong-dong, Gunsan, North Jeolla Province

(063) 452-2928