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Official Review by Kirsten Richards, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Jamsil Stadium is the home to two KBO (Korea Baseball Organization) teams – the Doosan Bears and the LG Twins. Home and away games are scheduled for the two teams with the stadium in mind – there are very few days over the season with no baseball at Jamsil Stadium, not counting the league’s Monday rest day.
The Doosan Bears were inaugurated in January 1982 as the first team in the Korea Baseball Organization and have been playing since the league’s first game in March 1982. They have been league champions three times (1982, 1995, 2001).
The Doosan Bears were one of the first teams to provide information about the team and the stadium in English and have a strong following in the expat community in Seoul.
Jamsil is the biggest stadium in the KBO and fills up on weekends. Doosan has a passionate fan base – passionate enough to formally protest team decisions or lack thereof at the stadium – and seeing a game live can be a loud and intense experience.
Jamsil is very easy to get to, very easy to navigate once you are there and the fans are energetic, loud and lots of fun. It’s a great experience.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Fried chicken is the food of choice at baseball games in Korea. Jamsil Stadium supplies fried chicken via numerous KFC shopfronts around the stadium. Burger King and GS25 convenience stores are the other regular shopfront appearances throughout the stadium. There are also a couple of Dominos outlets.
Outside the stadium is a raft of interesting Korean snacks and iced beer and soju (super-cheap Korean vodka) that you can take into the stadium with you. There are also more Burger King and KFC outlets, along with a Smoothie King, a Dominos, and a Dunkin Donuts. You are also welcome to bring anything from home that you might want inside the stadium. Umbrellas are a popular choice for protection from both the sun and the rain.
The prices and proportions for food and drink are standard. Most meals are designed for two or three people at minimum. Cass and Hite are the available beers from GS25 and run at regular convenience shop prices - approximately 2000 won (about $2 USD) per can.
There is a pop-up food court between the stadium and subway after the game and it's worth stopping (if you can find a spot) for some jeon - the Korean chives-and-everything enormous pancake that you accompany with makgeolli, a fermented rice or wheat alcoholic drink that is pleasantly sour and absolutely refreshing when icy cold.
For those of us old enough to remember the 1988 Olympics, the main Olympic stadium is a surprisingly constant presence when outside the third base side of the stadium. Sadly it is not visible from inside the stadium. It is however, well worth a visit if you have time before the game.
There is a steady and constant stream of people and noise around the stadium from about two hours before the game - pretty much from the moment the ticket window opens. Long queues form to take a turn in the pitching speed contest and friends are constantly meeting up to go to the game together. There is really enjoyable people watching to be had prior to a game, and plenty of pop-up outdoor restaurants and bars to choose from.
A wander around the entire outside of the stadium will bring you to a statue of the Doosan mascot which is a very popular photo-opportunity for families. You will also find the main team shops right next to each other, but the shop will only be open if the team is playing at the stadium on the day. Both shops are open for LG Twins vs Doosan Bears derbies, but otherwise it is one or the other.
The atmosphere inside the game is electric, especially if Doosan is winning. Chanting and cheering carries on regardless of the score, but the crowd is definitely more excited when the team is doing well. When the crowd is in full voice, the echo bouncing back from the other side of the field booms in your chest and your throat.
A seat above and in sight of the cheering platform is the most enjoyable spot for people seeking the experience of a Korean baseball game. They run from 10,000 to 12,000 won (approximately $9.75 - $11.75 USD). A spot a little below the cheering platform, or spending more money on a table or VIP seat might suit someone more interested in the game and the game alone. The crowd in the cheap outfield seats joins in with a lot of the chanting, but can quickly fall out of sync with the infield led by the cheerleaders.
The seating at Jamsil is tight, with very little room between the rows. Given the steepness of the pitch in the upper reaches of the stadium, it can often feel safer to vacate your seat altogether to allow people in and out of the row. Or be ready to catch falling humans when someone can't navigate around your knee. It's also worth keeping an eye on what's happening behind you, as someone attempting to wobble past in the row above can end with very hot noodles sliding down your back, or a knee in your head.
The premium seating has much more space and amenities such as tables, etc.
The first base side really catches the sun and afternoon games and are unpleasantly hot as early as spring training. Throughout the height of summer, games start later in the evening but I would still avoid that side of the stadium if possible. The home team takes the third base side and this area is in the shade much earlier. The right field general admission seats are also shaded much earlier than the left field seats if you choose to sit in the outfield.
The scoreboard is huge and easy to read from everywhere except the outfield seating. Doosan also produce a lot of their animations and introductions with English subtitles, so it is very easy to follow for the English speaking visitor.
There is an enjoyable amount of game-related activity in the area immediately surrounding the stadium prior to the game, but not as much happening if you were to visit in the morning. The Sports Complex Subway station has vendors selling baseball merchandise and memorabilia and there is another large shop selling gear from all of the KBO teams between the subway station and the stadium.
After the game, you can take a very casual stroll to Sincheon - about a five minute walk heading left from the baseball stadium. The very nearest hotels to the stadium are here. They are mostly "love motels," but there are some that are easier to book in advance and check-in prior to midnight. If you do get stuck without an accommodation, love motels are a life-saver - usually mid-range prices, all the amenities, super-clean and there's always a room available.
Sincheon is another one of Seoul's very organized and contained nightlife districts - there are just a lot more batting cages open until the early hours of the morning in Sincheon than in other places. And there's a lot more batting cages catering to left-handed hitters than elsewhere in the city. Restaurants and bars are open until very late in Sincheon and there are a lot of them. The streets are still full at 2am on a Friday night.
There is also another baseball merchandise shop on Olympic-ro when walking toward Sincheon from the stadium.
The Doosan fans at Jamsil are very welcoming and very happy to teach strangers the chants and songs to join in the cheering.
When Doosan are playing at home, the team and the fans take the third base side.
Doosan fans are very knowledgable about their team and hold strong opinions on the actions of management.
Jamsil Stadium is located in the southern part of Seoul on subway line 2 (Outer circle line). It is four subway stops from the Dong Seoul bus station (one of the major bus stations in Seoul) and six subway stops from Gangnam. Exiting the subway at the Baseball Stadium exit will put you about 40 meters from the ticket office at the stadium.
There are a large number of intra-city buses that go straight past the stadium as well as parking for approximately 2,500 cars over several parking lots near the stadium. As with the two other KBO stadiums accessible from Seoul's huge subway system, subway is the cheapest, fastest and most enjoyable way to get to and from a game. Tickets are about 1,200 won (about $1.20 USD) each way.
It is a much longer haul from Incheon International Airport, taking about 2 hours whether you go direct by bus 6008 or take the subway (lines A and 2, change at Hongik University Station). It's about 45 minutes from central Seoul station to Jamsil via the subway.
Accommodations and some nightlife can also be found at Coex, the huge Seoul Exhibition centre accessible from Samseong station one stop towards Gangnam, plus the accommodation and nightlife around Gangnam station.
Getting to and from the stadium is very easy, but moving around inside the stadium is a little trickier. The space between the rows of seating is very tight. The concourse spaces away from field are large, light and airy, but the concourse facing the field is narrow and there are huge steps from the throughways down to the concourse. These steps are very difficult to navigate for the movement impaired, but toddlers and children have great fun with them.
Going to see the Doosan Bears at Jamsil stadium is great value. For the price of a movie ticket you get 3+ hours of non-stop interactive fun. Regardless of which way your tastes lean, there is food and beverage to satisfy every craving. Doosan fans are very welcoming and it is very easy to get into the swing of cheering and chanting for the home team.
Jamsil has a lot of extras for the family with kids that aren't that keen on the baseball or too young to concentrate for the duration of a game. There is a playroom that offers a child-minding service and a PC room in which to abandon social-media addicted teenagers.
Smoking is forbidden in the main area of the stadium and the smoking rooms are nicely sealed off from the main sections. The smell of cigarette smoke never intrudes in the internal or external concourses.
The presence of the Olympic stadium cannot be overstated. It is really noticeable from most places outside of the stadium. The stadium is also very close to the Han River.
So much more could have been done to take advantage of the location of the stadium. Talks with LG and Doosan have been underway for years to build a new stadium, but there has yet to be any commitment made. For now, this is a great place to go and see baseball.
Member Review by TheJourneyman on Nov 10, 2012
Jamsil Baseball Stadium is one of the larger ones in Korea holding 27,000 fans. As part of the Jamsil Sports Complex, which sits next to Seoul Olympic Stadium, it hosted the 1988 Olympic Games (baseball was only an exhibition sport).
The stadium was built in 1982 and has hosted both the Doosan Bears and the LG Twins ever since. This helps create one of the best rivalries in the country since both teams share a city and a stadium.
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