Wild World of Sports


In terms of nightlife Busan did have its options. Even though I know that Korea seems to fixate on the strangest hodge-podge of American culture and that there are no real copyright laws I was not prepared for…”It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” Bar! It was nothing like the show, far too clean with a trendy, hip Korean staff. It would have been priceless to meet a Korean version of Frank (Danny Devito’s character) from the show though. I am not sentimental but will treasure the logoed lighter I procured there until I lose it like all the other lighters (there’s a reason I don’t buy Zippos).

Trademarked logos are nonexistent over here.

Other than this there were a few stops by Wolfhound Pub (kind of ironic to travel to the opposite corner of Korea to visit the sister establishment of the one in Itaewon) for real darts and some liquid and solid sustenance. Their fried cutlet style garbanzo/black bean burger with potato wedges is great, order the added on jalepenos, cheese and fried egg and you’ve created pubfare ambrosia. I also frequent this establishment for the “Veggie British Breakfast” (does this term even exist?!) of baked beans, fried eggs over easy, hashbrowns, toast and fried tomatoes which is quite a filling meal for less than $7, though it does make me miss the HP brown sauce and Newcastle on tap they have at the George and Dragon British futbol pub back home.

Haven't found anything close to this scene over here, *sigh*.

One exceptionally wild evening took place outside of the bars at Haundae beach. Roman candles were shot and lifeguard towers were the base of operations for Soju-swilling and Cass shot-gunning missions. Numerous people were spotlighted by the huge illuminating device on top of the shore-side police/coast guard station nearby. This didn’t stop my coworker (who shall remain nameless…) from eliciting a chorus of shrieks followed by giggles from a nearby group of college-aged Korean girls when he disrobed and ran out into the ocean. Luckily the spotlight did not hit him, I feel public exposure/indecency fines would be rather heavy in a country as modest as Korea.

A much more clandestine activity was visiting the Busan aquarium the next day. This is the largest aquarium in South Korea. After two days of laying in the sun on the beach and a morning spent hiking up and down stairs at a Buddhist temple under a scorching summer sun the cool darkness of the aquarium was sublime. Icing on the cake was definitely my favorite exhibit/animals there….Sea Otters! A most excellent vacation to be sure.

If I could be any mammal on the ocean seas...

Well it was one outstanding weekend to be had! Saturday I actually missed the meet up to go to the Korean War Memorial Museum. I was bogged down in errands. Since I’m going to Mudfest in Boryeong next weekend I wanted to get sunglasses, contact lenses, activate the cell phone and get a hair cut. Mission accomplished on all of these except the cell phone activation.

Me: Annyong Haseyo, could I setup a subscription?

SK clerk: What?!

Me: My cell phone needs to be registered.

SK clerk: Ahhh, not on Sundays.

Me: Uhhh, it’s Saturday…

SK clerk (rolling eyes and looking annoyed): You come here Monday!

Me: Annayong Geyseyo…

Haha, can’t win ’em all I guess. Luckily one of my supervisor is going with me to the store during my afternoon break tomorrow. My haircut looks decent and my kids were flippin out due to me showing up sans glasses. The compliments from a student’s mom that she’d never seen me look so handsome didn’t hurt. I try to stay impartial but it’s hard not to feel biased when she gives me free coffee all the time and is such a savvy flatterer.

Since I missed the trip to the museum I decided to go to Noksapyeong with my coworker from Jersey. We met up with a British friend of his at Craftworks which is a microbrewery in Seoul, these are extremely rare here so I truly took my time in imbibing the dark ale and Kolsch I tried. I ordered nachos for lunch, the salsa and cheese were great but the chips themselves were rather lacking. The opposite was the case at Yaletown earlier that week, can’t win ’em all.

It was getting a little later in the afternoon by this point so I gave an “adios” to my coworkers and hopped back on the subway to cruise out to Hongdae to meet with my friends from college to go to the FC Seoul match at World Cup Stadium. For all the criticism I had heard of K-League not being that exciting I was rather impressed.

The final score was 3-2 with Seoul coming back in the last-minute of stoppage time to score the final goal. There were good shots on goals and some skilled ball handling at times. It was no EPL and I’d feel sorry for Seoul if they had to play a team on the caliber of Chelsea (my personal favorites) but I feel like they would definitely be able to put on a great game against the Sounders, the MLS squad I cheer for back home.

I also got some interesting looks on my way to the game due to all the clashing colors. I was not only sporting my Chelsea jersey but had a Sounders scarf on and a Seoul FC fan (Blue & Yellow, Green & Black, Red & Black) so stuck out like a sore thumb. All in all I had a great time, now consider my self a FC Seoul fan in the making and can’t wait to go to another game in the near future!

That’s all the time I have for the blog right now. Photos of the game will be up soon and I’ll try to give an update about my Sunday Funday at Jacoby’s Burgers and Roots Time when I get the chance. Thanks for dropping by!

The highpoint of this last weekend was definitely my trip out to Jamsil stadium to catch the LG Twins play the SK Wyverns. I was joined by two of the new teachers (there have been three new teachers after my arrival, all female), or as my veteran coworkers call us “Saved By the Bell, the new class”. All three have just graduated university and are from Midwest or East Coast, so as a male ’07 graduate from WA state who worked for 3 years after college I am somewhat of an anomaly so far in the group.

We met up with one of the veterans from Canada who is unique in that he plays on the best ball hockey team in Korea (they recently won the tournament in Hong Kong and were dubbed “Champions of Asia”). This always reminds me of the movie Clerks with Dante and the gang playing on the roof of the Quick-Stop. One of our Korean supervisors also came out which was awesome because she was able to translate a lot of the chants for me.

"I'm not even supposed to be here today..."

While I was raised as a Mariners fan all my life and have seen them play at Safeco Field and it’s predecessor the Kingdome it has never been my favorite spectator sport. The constant breaks and slow rate of play paired with stretches of action-less innings and inane focus upon stats has always created a certain aversion in me. The high ticket prices and exorbitant cost of food and drink didn’t help the matter later on in life. Korean baseball watched at the stadium is a whole different ballgame.

It was fairly necessary to have a Korean friend or speaker there to fully appreciate the game. Every player has their own individual chant and there are numerous situational songs throughout the game. It was great having one of our supervisors there to help point out the clutch ones. You could bring in any food and beverage you pleased and the tickets were only $9. Add on to this that the fans were far less stoic, more like an American football game vibe and it’s an entirely different spectating experience.

This was also the first time I’d set foot upon grounds that had once hosted the Olympics back in ’88. Not monumental moment but definitely a little warm and fuzzy feeling. Too bad I probably won’t be able to attend another game for a bit since the Monsoon season started this week. Typhoon is coming in on Sunday. We definitely don’t have those back on the West Coast so I’ll be exposed to some novel elemental fury. Kinda stoked.

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