If there’s a sport that comes to mind when you think of Korea, it’s baseball. A common ask of my students is to keep them posted on how a team’s doing throughout class. When a friend mentioned to me that she was planning on checking out a game – I leapt at the idea. In all honesty, the last time I had been to a baseball game, I was probably 8 years old seeing the Jays, but I wanted to have this experience before leaving Korea – whether I understood what was happening or not.
We arrived to the Sports Complex, just West of Jamsil, after checking out some restaurants in Hongdae. I’m always surprised at how many people actually live in Seoul – especially so when I see huge crowds like these ones. We met up with some other coworkers, waiting in a long line to get in, only to discover that we were meant to be in a different section.
Beers in hand, we found our seats. Paying 8000 KRW (about $8) we didn’t expect much – but it was actually pretty good. We were in the outfield, and the seating was first come first serve, but there was lots of room. I think us wanting tans, and most of the Korean fans wanting the opposite of tans played a little into that decision, because our sunlight section was vastly empty.
The game itself was pretty good, and every so often the crowds would sing songs about the players. What amused us the most is that while having Korean lyrics, the songs were sung to the tunes of many popular English songs. Surfin’ USA was definitely my favourite.
A little later on, one of our friends got her Soju taken away (she can’t drink beer, and unfortunately Soju isn’t allowed in the stadium for whatever reason). After searching around for a replacement to no avail, a kind Ajumma (old woman) at a stand out front offered to sell us some. She also asked us (in Korean) if we’d like the soju poured in an empty water bottle – very sneaky. That was probably the highlight of my night.
The rest of the night was spent drinking beer, eating fried chicken, hopelessly trying to understand baseball, and taking a long walk along the river with a bottle of wine. We were enjoying the atmosphere so much that we missed our last trains home. It’s these kind of nights that make me glad to be abroad, experiencing something new almost every day.