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A Day at Sajik Stadium – Lotte Giants Baseball

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Baseball Gear

Among the best experiences we’ve had in Busan have been our visits to Sajik Stadium to watch the Giants. Any American baseball fan who’s ever complained about their team’s high ticket prices, expensive food and drink, or paltry attendance, should definitely pencil in a day at the park while in Busan. This is the stadium experience perfected.

Sajik-Stadium-Busan

First off, tickets are super cheap. We paid ₩7000 ($6.30) for seats in the outfield. Better seats down the lines aren’t much more, though they can be difficult to get ahold of. The Giants are incredibly popular, and home games sell out quickly. On a sunny Saturday, we showed up two hours early and tickets were already gone. Luckily, plenty of scalpers hang around and we were able to score a couple tickets for a big markup (₩15,000 instead of 7000).

You can get tickets at Busan Bank on the day before the game (note: not the day of). They only sell general admission (outfield) entries, but at least you’ll have them in advance and not have to wait in the frustratingly long lines at Sajik. Alternatively, you can get tickets on the Lotte Giants website, but only if you’re a Korean or have a Korean friend who can do it for you. It’s not just the language — they actually restrict online sales to citizens.

Once you’ve got your tickets, you might want to do some shopping before entering the stadium. This was the single most shocking thing to me about baseball in Korea. Spectators are allowed to carry in whatever food and drink they want, and everybody does so. We watched in awe as fans arrived with stacks of pizza, cases of beer, plates of sushi, buckets of chicken. Compared to the US, where they’ll search your backpack and confiscate half-empty water bottles, this is amazing. I couldn’t get over it.

Pizza Hut Busan

We didn’t bring anything on our first trip to Sajik, but were well prepared on the second. There’s a superstore called Home Plus near the stadium, and inside is a chain called “Redcap” which has stacks of pizzas ready to go for hungry fans on their way to the game. We got one, and picked up beer and chicken in the supermarket. And now, properly supplied, we could march into the stadium like pros.

But even if you show up to the stadium without any of your own beer, there’s no worry. Inside the park, they only cost ₩2000 a can ($1.80). Food is cheap, too.

So, we’re already having a great time before any players take the field, but the atmosphere really improves once the game gets going. The Giants are the most popular team in Korea, continually setting attendance records, and their fans are wild about them. Jerseys and hats are requisite gear; based on the numbers worn in our immediate vicinity, the most popular players seemed to be #12 (Kim Joo Chan) and #47 (Kang Min Ho). We also saw a weird amount of Cleveland Indians t-shirts and hats. Busan-born Shin-Soo Choo is their right fielder, and Busanites have accordingly turned themselves into boosters of the Tribe. Hey Cleveland, did you know you’ve got a big fan base in southern Korea?!

We seem to be good luck charms for the Giants, who’ve won both games we’ve attended. In the first inning of the match against the Nexen Heroes, they even hit a grand slam. And we got a video of it! There were three home runs in this 8-0 blowout, and the crowd was going wild. The atmosphere inside the stadium rocks. People dancing in their seats, cheering on the big stars, watching the sexy cheerleaders jiggle to K-Pop between innings, booing opposing pitchers when they check the runner at first, and doing the wave.

I’ve never seen a slow-motion wave, and in fact have never heard of one; I wouldn’t have considered such a thing possible and, in the US, it probably wouldn’t be. But here, the crowd fully participates in this amazing feat of coordination, slowly standing out of their seats when the snail-paced wave finally reaches them. Then, when the wave hits the “Exciting Section” (really, that’s its name), it kicks into super-speed. It’s fun, especially when the game is an 8-0 blowout which doesn’t require a lot of attention.

“Lotte”, by the way, is the name of a major company here in Korea. In the US, we might name our stadiums after corporations, but not our teams! It’s kind of weird to see a crowd full of happy families and impressionable children singing “Lot-te Lotte LOTTTT-te!”; the company’s coporate overlords must be delighted about the mass brainwashing going on in Sajik. Towards the end of the game, plastic orange Lotte shopping bags are distributed throughout the crowd, who tie them onto their heads. Again: a tradition of putting plastic bags onto childrens’ heads? It would never happen in the States.

So, though I never would have expected it, baseball in Korea turns out to be an amazing experience. Don’t pass up a chance to visit Sajik Stadium, when in Busan.

Location on our Busan Map
Hotels in Busan

Korea-Baseball-Pre-Gaming
Home Plus Busan
Baseball Feast
Pizza Baseball
Beer Transportation
Giants 2012
Secret Lotte Fans
Mega Lotte Lotte Lotte
Super Fly Korean Baseball Player
Lotte Giants Walk
Baseball in Korea
Stadium Lights
Our Baseball Snacks
Holy Pizza
Baseball Stonker
Famous-Korean-Baseball-Player
Lotte Giants Pitch
Lotte-Giants-Number-1
Giants Kids Fan
Very-Special-Baseball-Fan
Baseball Pizza
Lotte Giants Win
Lotte King
Lotte Card
Lotte-Giants-Business-Men
Sajik-Fans
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June 4, 2012 at 6:50 am Comments (7)

Born in the USA… Perfected in Korea?

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Our 91 Day Stay in Savannah, Georgia

Since the end of World War II and the liberation of Korea from the Japanese occupation, the USA has maintained a steady presence in the southern half of the peninsula. Perhaps it comes as no surprise, then, that South Korea has inherited many aspects of American culture, from the world of pop music to its dynamic sporting scene. During our short time here, I’ve found myself amazed by the similarities between my homeland and our temporary host. And to be brutally honest, a lot of the greatest things about America seem to even better in South Korea…

USA and Korae
The Stadium Experience

I love baseball. Honestly, I didn’t know how much I loved baseball until I had lived in Europe for a few years. Sure, football is America’s biggest sport, and basketball might be the most popular export, but for some reason it was baseball that I found myself missing. Nothing beats going to a jam-packed stadium with a bunch of friends and watching the Red Sox demolish the Yankees.

But, it turns out there is something better: going to a stadium in Korea. We’ve written in depth about our experience at Busan’s Lotte Giants, but suffice to say that attending a baseball game in Korea is awesome. Tickets are cheap. Beer is cheap. The stands are packed. Everyone’s watching the game, when they’re not shoveling pizza into their mouths or doing a slow-motion wave. You can bring food and beer into the stadium with you. We had a blast. Have you ever seen a slow-motion wave? It’s amazing. Red Sox fans would never be capable of that!

Giants Busan
Pop Music

I grew up with the music of bands like N*Sync and The Backstreet Boys tainting the musical landscape with their bland pop and squeaky-clean visages. But while “boy bands” have fairly faded back home, they’ve only gained in popularity in Korea. The airwaves here are dominated by a parade of boy- and girl-groups, who… and this is the truly amazing thing… don’t completely suck! The music is catchy, the outfits are ridiculous, the dances are tight, and the kids are genuinely talented. Just try and watch BIGBANG’s Fantastic Baby without bopping your head… or developing a crush on one of them (but stay away from Seungri, he’s mine).

We have the Black Eyed Peas, Korea has Girls Generation. Advantage: Korea.

Girls Generation
Girls Generation: A lot sexier than LMFAO, and they know it
Coffee Culture

It’s totally wrong, and possibly sacrilegious, to claim that “coffee culture” was “born in the USA”. And it’s not what I mean. Obviously, Italy (for one) has a much more authentic and agreeable sort of café cult. Americans don’t do espresso and, when we try, we dependably screw it up. But we have Starbucks — and that’s the kind of manufactured scene I’m talking about, with its cozy furniture, delicious muffins and light jazz-pop. We invented that and we like it, so screw you know-it-all coffee purists.

But Korea has improved on our formula, yet again. Here, you’ll find Starbucks, but also plenty of other cafes that are basically clones but even more cozy, playing cooler jazz-pop and serving yummier muffins. You can’t go half a block without seeing an Angelinus Coffee, a BeansBins, a Mr. Coffee, a Doctor Coffee, a Coffee Duomo, and on and on and on. For those of us who depend on coffee shops as erstwhile offices, the selection is exhilarating.

Hideous Working Hours

During the three years that I was living in Germany and working remotely for a US software firm, my friends delighted in mocking me. “Only two weeks of vacation?” they’d scoff. “We get six! Starting!” It’s true. We Americans work a lot more than Europeans — and especially more so than Germans. But it was an odd point of pride for me. “Yeah, it’s cause I’m tougher”.

But we don’t hold a candle to the Koreans. These guys work like maniacs. The average South Korean puts in more hours than anyone else on the planet. It’s a sickening productivity that has brought the country from a war-torn backwater to one of the most dynamic economies in the world. For the poor, sleep-deprived corporate cog, I don’t know if you can really classify this as an “improvement” on the American standard, but it’s just one more thing which we can do, but they can do better.

 

I’m sure there are a lot of other aspects of American culture which have been perfected in Korea. Near our apartment, there was a bowling alley. I was almost nervous to step inside. Surely, it wouldn’t be like back home, where the pin-clearing device always gets stuck, the dirty shoes never fit, and the stupid automatic scoring system ignores your strikes. No, I’m certain that I would have been suitably embarrassed and impressed by the futuristic Ultimate Bowling Experience of Korea.

Damn these guys!

Korea Travel Insurance

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May 22, 2012 at 12:49 am Comments (8)
A Day at Sajik Stadium - Lotte Giants Baseball Among the best experiences we've had in Busan have been our visits to Sajik Stadium to watch the Giants. Any American baseball fan who's ever complained about their team's high ticket prices, expensive food and drink, or paltry attendance, should definitely pencil in a day at the park while in Busan. This is the stadium experience perfected.
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