In my last post, I shared the many regional bites of Seomun Night Market in Daegu along with attending the Lantern Festival for Buddha’s Birthday. If you missed it, read more here!
Baseball is THE sport of South Korea. I remember the first day of class when I introduced myself to my students and told them I loved to watch hockey. Many of them stared at me blankly until I mentioned I also liked watching baseball. Their heads whipped up and their eyes grew big. I knew I finally had an in. The rivalry among professional baseball teams in Korea is very similar to ACC basketball back home. Everyone has a team they’re ride or die for, regardless of how well they may or may not be doing.
One thing everyone agrees on, however, is they want to eat a great meal while watching their home team. My coteacher, Koo, introduced me to this new sporting/dining experience when she took me to my first professional Korean baseball game at Jamsil Arena in May. Jamsil Arena is in the heart of Seoul and serves as the home stadium of her team, the Doosan Bears. I’m already a Bears convert because their merch features Bare Bears (super cute), it’s in Seoul (easy to get to) and their samgyeupsal (grilled pork belly) is legendary.
Game day eats are anything but ordinary here. Delivery scooters case the perimeter of the stadium dropping off food to people. Outside food stalls and the stadium’s food vendors offer full take out meals with accompanying banchan (side dishes) to be washed down with your game day beverage of choice. Of course, there are also vendors walking up and down the aisles to top off your drink should you need a refill during the middle of an inning and you don’t want to miss a play.
Jamsil Arena has everything from fried chicken joints to food carts dishing out samgyeupsal (grilled pork belly) and mandu (dumplings). Although I’ve only been to Jamsil Arena, I’ve heard the other baseball stadiums feature many of the same vast array of food choices. The best part about all of this good grub is you can take your time to enjoy it because you’re able to bring it all in with you to your seats. There’s no rushing to eat or shoving the rest into your bag only to go through security to have all remnants of liquid and/or outside food thrown away.
Dining at the Bears game reminded me of an entertaining coursed meal. When the Bears are at bat, we are loudly chanting in unison with other fans. Once the visitors are at bat, we refueled with mandu, tteokkbokki, eomuk (fish cakes), samgyeupsal and fried chicken for our next inning of cheering.
I now know why so many people are obsessed with Korean baseball. The camaraderie built while watching the teams play is fascinating and the high energy cheers suck you in even more than when I’m at an American baseball game. Even if your Korean isn’t quite there yet (me!), it’s not long before you’re chanting along to the beat and getting wrapped up in the amazing atmosphere of Korean baseball. Attending a professional Korean baseball game is a must if you visit South Korea. I encourage you to go to a Doosan Bears game at Jamsil Arena, but I won’t hold it against you if you’re rooting for another team!
Have you been to a professional Korean baseball game in South Korea? Who did you cheer for and what was your favorite game day food? Leave your thoughts below in the comments and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog and check in for my regular posts over on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.