Korea is a small nation with a relatively large population. On the surface, the hustle and bustle may not make it seem like the ideal place to enjoy a life of leisure. However, those who have resided in Korea for an extended period of time all share the same sentiment: Korea offers a variety of activities for each distinct season. Some might even say it’s like a variety gift set providing the complete package! In this section, we will look at leisure activities in sports, culture, travel and other areas of interest.
Tennis courts abound in the surrounding areas of Seoul, providing an affordable way for the public to enjoy physical ctivity. However, it is important to remember that some tennis courts are open to registered members only. Although you might have difficulty finding English-speaking friends, tennis courts on the grounds of apartment complexes are a niceway to get some court time. Below is a list of tennis courts
Dong Seoul Tennis Courts
- (Tel. 02-406-4781~2)
- http://dongseoultennis.com [K]
- Located in Songpa-gu, Macheon-dong, this spacious facility offers hourly rates as well as monthly membership rates. On-site facilities include locker rooms, night lights and a spacious parking lot. Lessons are not available in English.
Jangchoong Tennis Courts
- (Tel. 02-8-2279-7721)
-Located on the rear side of Jangchoong-dong National Theatre, the hard courts are available for use on an hourly basis and through a monthly membership fee. Seoul Club members are free to use the courts since Seoul Club members are registered members of Jangchoong Tennis Courts.
Seoul High School Tennis Court
- (Tel. 02-523-0616)
- This tennis court is located on the grounds of Seoul High School of Seocho-dong. Four grass courts, shower rooms, and locker rooms as well as parking lots are just some of the amenities available to users. Hourly rates are available but it might be a little hard to squeeze in some quality court time on weekday evenings as this is the busiest time. Lessons in English are available.
Dr. Choi Tennis Courts
- (Tel. 02-790-3651)
- The courts are located on the right hand side about a two minute drive from the Hyatt Hotel in Yaksu-dong. Lesson rates: 170,000 won, Monday to Friday (5 times a week), approximately 20 minutes per lesson, 5:40 to 22:00.
Korea is a mountainous country and therefore offers many mountain sports for all to enjoy. The most recognized and popular is skiing.Unfortunately the use of artificial snow is prevalent at most ski resorts. This makes it hard for ski enthusiasts to enjoy powder ski/ free ski in Korea. The most cost efficient way to enjoy skiing is through the purchase of a season pass. A pass allows members access to both lifts and accommodation at discounted rates. Why not take advantage of some quality skiing and a c c o m m o d a t i o n facilities by hitting the slopes this winter?
- (Tel. 1588-2828)
- http://www.phoenixpark.co.kr [K, E, C, J]
- Phoenix Park prides itself on 22 well-maintained slopes. It is a popular destination amongst the younger crowd because of the excellent customer service and the high quality of the slopes. Located in Gangwon-do, Pyeongchang, it is relatively close to Seoul and the use of shuttle buses provided by the resort free of charge from Jangpyeong to Pyeongchang allows skiers to take full advantage of the 3 to 24 degree steep slopes at an affordable daily rate. A daily lift pass costs 65,000won.
- (Tel. 1588-0009)
- http://www.yongpyong.co.kr [K, E]
- Yongpyeong is home to the largest ski facility in the country. The resort earned the respect of ski enthusiasts with its 5.7 km-long slope, the second longest slope in Korea. There are 28 slopes in allwith gradients measuring in at 10 to 38 egrees. A daily lift pass will set you back 60,000 won and with free shuttle buses available from Jamsil, Apgujeong and Sadang to Daegwalyeong, it’s an easy and affordable way to enjoy a weekend on the slopes.
- (Tel. 063-322-900)
- http://www.mujuresort.com [K]
- Located in Jeollabuk-do, skiers can enjoy a spectacular view as they make their way down from Deokyusan Mountain Seolcheonbong peak. The resort is especially popular among intermediate to advanced level skiers as it boasts, at 6.4 km, the longest slope in the country. A daily lift pass costs 70,000 won and it is important to remember that the rental shop does not rent out toques, goggles or gloves.
Jisan Forest Resort
- (Tel. 031-644-1200)
- http://www.Jisanresort.co.kr [K, E, C, J]
- The biggest advantage to this ski resort is its location. Located in Gyeonggi-do, Icheon, it is close to Seoul. Many kiers compliment the quality of the slopes but there is a drawback to this resort. As it is close to Seoul, a large number of skiers flock to the resort, often resulting in long lines. This smaller scale resort contains 11 slopes with 7 to 30 degree angles.
High 1 Resort
- (Tel. 1588-7789)
- http://www.e-high1.com [K]
- High 1 is a newly opened ski resort operated by Gangwon Land. Located in Gangwon-do, Taebaek area. Commuting to the area is not the most convenient but the facility more than makes up for any inconveniences one might experience to get there. Steepness of slopes range from 4 to 22 degrees and there are 18 slopes in all. A daily lift pass costs 70,000 won and free High 1 trains from Seoul and Busan to Gohan are available for skiers during the season.
As in other countries, equestrianism is not a sport enjoyed by the masses. The very thought of equestrians conjures up images of well-heeled aristocrats on horseback. However, with a growing number of riding enthusiasts, the number of riding facilities is on the rise. Gwacheon has a facility widely known and enjoyed by fans of the sport.
- (Tel. 1566-3333)
- http://www.kra.co.kr [K, J, E, C]
- Gwacheon has a racetrack accessible by subway (Seoul Metro) from Seoul. In addition to convenient transportation, admission fee is a mere 800 won and parking is free. Races are held on Saturdays and Sundays of each week with 11 to 12 scheduled races per day. This unbelievably affordable track also offers horseback riding lessons. Unfortunately, foreigners are not granted access to the free lessons at this point but the program is said to be playing a huge role in the growing interest in the sport.
- Horseback Riding Training Center
- (Tel. 02-463-8565)
- Located on Seoul Forest grounds, it is the only place in Seoul which allows horseback riding in the city. Circular tracks ranging in size offer quality riding experiences for riders of all levels. The training center does not offer rides outside of the designated tracks and does not have any other courses. Most riders are required to bring their own horses but those who book in advanced are not required to do so. The training center does not have a trainer fluent in English on staff and herefore, lessons are not possible. However, experienced horseback riders can call to make reservations to ride around the tracks. Basic costs start at 44,000 won per 45 minutes.
Mention the most Korean of sports to foreigners and they’ll immediately think of the martial arts Taekwondo. Trying your hands at the national sport of Korea from the best instructors in the world in its very birthplace might be a good idea. Themost ideal way to pick up the sportmay be by heading to the nearest Taekwondo dojang (gym) so that you learn the sport and at the same time mingle with some natives and pick up some Korean. However, for those who much prefer to take lessons in English, there are several dojang that offering such services.
Haedong Taekwondo Center
- (Tel. 02-794-1462)
- http://www.kukkiwon.or.kr [K, E]
- Kukkiwon is the mecca of Taekwondo training. If Judo has its Kodokan, Taekwondo has Kukkiwon, the world’s best come to Kukkiwon to advance their skills by training with the best. As the “headquarters” of the sport, Kukkiwon offers affordable lessons on the grounds of Gyeonghuigung (Sungjungjeon courtyard) six times a week, excluding Mondays. Each lesson is an hour and thirty minutes long. This program offers a basic training program, self-defense program and gyukpa destruction program, which is designed as a one-time experience class. (Reservations must be made at least a day in advance, and the fee is 20,000 won per hour.)
- (Tel. 02-336-3361)
- http://www.taekwontour.net [K, E]
- Hoki offers one day experimental lessons as well as memberships. English lessons are available at the Mokdong branch but monthly fees and schedules have to be discussed in advance. As for the one-day trial lessons, a 90-minute lesson costs 40,000 won and a 3-hour lesson costs 80,000 won. Applications for trial lessons can be done individually or as a group.
Jogging/ In-line/ Bicycle roads
All parks in Seoul are great for jogging. Perhaps the most popular and well-paved of the group are the courses lining the grounds of the Han River. To let you in on some valuable information for in-line enthusiasts, Hangang Park in Ichon District has an In-line Skating Plaza (Tel. 02-790- 6385). The length of bicycle roads near the Han River measures 36.9 km from Gangseo-gu, Gaehwa-dong to Gangdong-gu, Amsa-dong. The asphalt and concrete-covered roads are designated for bicycles riders and therefore riders can freely enjoy the view and ride in comfort without having to worry about the traffic. Furthermore, riders can use Hangang Park sports facilities, popular tourist destinations and culturally significant places as
Fitness club/ Swimming
Koreans work hard sweating off excess weight in light of the new “well-being” trend, thanks to which the number of health conscious Koreans have risen. While there are plenty of ways to get some outdoor physical activity within the city limits, the busy schedules of many do not allow formuch adventure. As such, fitness centers are the most viable option for the busy working urbanites. Most fitness centers in Korea offer monthly and quarterly membership plans. Some offer sixmonth
plans and even annual plans. The benefit of signing up for a longer period is the significant discount in the membership fee. Some high-end fitness clubs offer golf course access and other benefits as part of a lifetime membership package. All fitness centers have lockers and shower stalls. Some places have hardwood yoga rooms and swimming pools and offer lessons as part of the package.
KBS 88 Gymnasium
- (Tel. 02-2600-8808)
- http://www.kbs88.co.kr [K]
- Squash, table tennis, tennis, badminton, yoga are just some of the sports/activities available at this sports complex.
Olympic Park Sports Lesson
- http://www.sosfo.or.kr [K]
- As a complete sports facility, a total of 59 weight and cardio machines, of various types, are available along with fitness lessons and activities such as swimming, basketball, yoga, badminton and gumdo. Other than weight training, Olympic Park Sports Lesson offers various fitness/ sports lessons. Outdoor swimming pools are open to the public during the summer months but as there aren’t many outdoor pools, the pools get full. Below are some popular outdoor pools in the city.
Hamilton Hotel Swimming Pool
- (Tel. 02-6393-1247)
- http://www.hamilton.co.kr [K, E, J]
- Open from June to September every year, one can enjoy the skyline of the citywhile swimming on the rooftop pool. The admission fee is 10,000 won during the week and 12,000 won on weekends. Hamilton Hotel is near exit 6 of Itaewon Station.
Hangang Park Swimming Pool
- http://hangang.seoul.go.kr/leports/04_leports_01. html [K, E]
- A total of six outdoor swimming pools on Hangang Park grounds are open annually during the summer months to the public in the following locations: Gwangnaru, Jamsil, Jamwon, Yeouido, Tteokseom, Mangwon. Admissions are affordable at 3,000 won for children aged 4~12 and 5,000 for adults aged 19 and over. Facilities selling swimming goods such as goggles and bathing suits are also available, making it an ideal place to spend an afternoon in the sun with the family within the city limits.
Olympic Park Swimming Pool
- (Tel. 02-410-1114)
- http://www.sosfo.or.kr/olpark/main [K]
- As the name suggests, this pool was used during the 1988 Olympics swimming competition. This Olympic regulation pool contains ten 50-meter lanes providing swimmerswith ample amounts of space to exercise. Admission is 6,000 won for adults and 5,000 won for youths. If you’re thinking the pool must be a bit outdated considering the Seoul Olympics was held close to two decades ago, there’s good news. The pool will be renovated and reopened to the public in 2008. It is located in Olympic Park in Songpa-gu, near Sungnae Station.
- (Tel. 031-320-5000)
- http://www.everland.com/caribbean [K, E, J, C]
- If you’re wondering where to take the little ones on a summer outing, Caribbean Bay might be a viable option. As a family water theme park, various slides, wave pool, sauna and spa are sure to please all members of the family and not just the kids. Do prepare your swimming caps as they are mandatory. Located on the Yongin Everland grounds, admissions is 30,000 won for adults and 23,000 won for children.
Korea is a great place to check out some professional sporting events as various proleagues are available. The quality of facilities and sports in general have been continuing to improve after the ’88 Olympics and 2002 World Cup. Unlike most North American or European sporting events, tickets to a pro sporting event are unbelievably cheap. The quality of games is fairly good as well, considering many foreign athletes and Korean athletes with experience abroad are increasingly recruited in large numbers to play here. There’s something to enjoy during each of the four seasons as baseball, basketball, volleyball, soccer and other professional leagues provide fun and excitement all year round. If you’d like to catch some of the action, check below for a list of websites and contact information.