Last night, I went to a World Cup qualifier between South Korea and UAE. I had only been to one other professional soccer game before this one, and it was nothing compared to this. The game was played at Seoul World Cup Stadium, which is simply an amazing venue. Opened in 2001, it hosted the opening match of the 2002 World Cup. The other soccer match I had seen was an MLS match at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, which obviously pales in comparison.
Our seats were fantastic, especially for the 30,000-won price tag: We were about three rows up in the corner of the field. The most expensive tickets, which put you on the side of the field, were only 50,000 won. For any major sporting event in the States, a $30 ticket would probably leave you in the nosebleeds — if that gets you a ticket at all.
Once the game started, my fellow English teachers and I found ourselves genuinely cheering for Korea. We cheered on the goals and groaned on the misses. We even found ourselves rooting harder — along with the natives — for Korean superstar and team captain Park Ji-Sung, who plays his club ball with Manchester United. The “Taeguk Warriors” cruised to a 4-1 victory over UAE.
During the game, I also indulged in Korean concessions, which are a bit healthier (and cheaper) than the grease-covered, heart-attack-inducing snacks found in America. For 6,000 won, I got a 24-ish oz. beer and a box of gimbap, seaweed-wrapped rice rolls. To continue the “how American sporting events suck” comparisons, $6 will barely get you a beer. I think I might actually like the Korean array of snacks better which includes things such as dried cuttlefish.
Cheap tickets. Cheap food. Great soccer game. I’m loving the Korean life.