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Official Review by Kirsten Richards, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Munhak Stadium is home to the SK Wyverns, one of the eight teams (expanding to nine teams in 2015) contesting the Korea Baseball Championship (the KBO). The SK Wyverns incorporated in 2000 and have been playing at Munhak since it opened in 2002. In that time, the SK Wyverns have played in the Championship Series seven times and won it outright on three occasions (2007, 2008, 2010).
The stadium seats 28,500 and regularly sells out. A large portion of the seats are general admission, but lower level infield seating is reserved. There is also a grass area, a Korean BBQ zone, a party deck and a number of extras inside the stadium, away from the field.
Like all professional baseball teams in Korea, the SK Wyverns have passionate fans who know and participate in a number of songs and chants throughout the game.
Munhak is a lovely modern stadium that is very easy to get to and very easy to move around in. An afternoon or evening at Munhak is a guaranteed good time.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Munhak Stadium has vendors selling pizza, burgers, fried chicken, hand-cut fries and hot dogs in the $4-$10 range. There are also a wide-range of Korean snacks available, including grilled pork skin, fried octopus, fish cakes, spicy rice cakes, dumplings, deep fried sweet potato and cup noodles. Prices range from 3 pieces for $1 through to about $10.
Standard sodas are approximately the same price as standard Korean lager beers (Cass, Hite and OB) for $2/can. Lemon and honey tea is a standout treat on a cold evening in early May. Lines are short and move very quickly.
The Korean BBQ zone is a highlight as well.
As with all Korean baseball games, you are welcome to bring anything you want to eat or drink into the stadium with you. It is common to see people dragging very large eskies/coolers into the stadium. In short, you don't have to restrict yourself to unopened water and packaged crisps - bring in exactly what you want, including alcoholic beverages.
A note to the traveler - it is polite to bag your rubbish and take it out to the concourse and leave it in/nearby the bins.
Munhak Stadium is part of the Munhak Sports Complex, which has hosted a number of large international games and will host the Asian Games in September 2014. The setting is very peaceful, with wide tree-shaded pedestrian avenues for crowds to make their way between stadiums. The baseball stadium provides painted lines for you to follow from the Munhak Sports Complex subway station exit to the ticket window and around to the relevant gate.
Views from the outside of the concourse take in forested hills, the city of Incheon and the Munhak Sports Complex.
Inside the stadium, sightlines are good from all general admission areas, with the seats in the outfield oriented towards second base. Shade/shelter from the rain is available in the upper areas of the grandstand. The third base side of the park is in full sun during day games. The first base side gets shade earlier in the day.
There is not a lot of room between the rows of seating, but the pitch is not so extreme that an accidental bump feels like it will send you tumbling down to the field. The pitch is steeper in the upper level of the stadium.
The lower level infield seating is reserved and entry is not permitted without a ticket. Autograph hunters are best off to wait outside the locker rooms after the games - which are easy to find, as there will usually be a polite gauntlet of fans lining the way from the exit to the team buses.
The scoreboard is large and easy to read and contains all of the standard stats for pitchers and hitters. The animations for foul balls, strikeouts and extra-base hits are a stand-out. Jersey numbers and the outcomes of previous at-bats are not shown.
The home team dugout is on the first base line, away team is on the third base line and the fans of each team group themselves behind the relevant dugouts.
There is not a great deal in the area immediately surrounding the stadium, however the stadium is on the subway line, which gives easy and quick access to Incheon and only takes a little longer to get back to Seoul. Incheon and Seoul are both very safe cities and it is comfortable, safe and easy to ride the subway at night.
The fans are very passionate and very loud. People of all ages have their gloves ready to catch a foul ball or a home run. I have never seen any kind of aggression between fans at a Korean baseball game and don't expect that I ever will.
Fans are largely friendly and welcoming to foreigners and may go so far as to offer you some of their picnic.
There are cheer sections for both the home team and the away team. The cheer section has a small stage for the cheerleaders to lead chants and provide between-inning entertainment, however most of the crowd can and will participate in all songs and chants. Two thundersticks (inflatable cylinders) are the key equipment for participating in cheering.
Munhak Stadium is best accessed via the Incheon line on the subway. From either Incheon International airport or Gimpo International airport there is one transfer to get onto the Incheon line. Travel time from Incheon Airport is approximately 1 hour. The other practical way to get to the stadium is from the Incheon bus terminal, which is one station away from Munhak Sports Complex on the subway. Subway tickets are approximately $1 each way (1200 Won).
Bathroom queues are short and move fast. Cleanliness of the ladies was excellent. I did not inspect the men's room.
Mobility impaired travelers may have a difficult time navigating to their seats in the general admission areas, as the space between rows is narrow.
An afternoon or evening out at Korean baseball is always worth your time. Prices are roughly equivalent to Minor League ball - $8-$20 for regular seating and up to $50/head for boxes, Korean BBQ seating, etc. There is a wide range of reasonably priced merchandise - from $3 keyrings up to $150 for player jerseys.
As a visitor, sitting in or behind the cheering section for either the home or the away team is great fun.
Tickets to Korean baseball can be a little difficult to acquire ahead of time if you do not have a Korean mobile phone number, a Korean credit card and the ability to read Korean. If, for mobility reasons you need to book ahead to get a seat at a table or in one of the boxes, you should definitely get help from a travel agent, hotel concierge, Korean workmate or friend. For tickets on the day I advise arriving a couple of hours early to buy your general admission tickets and acquire a good spot.
There is a smoking area downstairs and outside on the first base side.
Other things downstairs in the fan-zone area include a pitching speed gun machine, batting cages, casts of the players' hands and the kids playground area.
Member Review by TheJourneyman on Aug 15, 2012
Munhak Baseball Stadium is home to the three-time Korea Series Champion SK Wyverns. The stadium, located in Incheon, is easily the nicest stadium in Korean professional baseball. It opened in 2002 and holds just short of 30,000.
The Wyverns play in the extremely popular 8-team KBO (a 9th team will start play in 2013). Every Monday is an off day, and games will end in a tie after 12 innings. The popularity of baseball in South Korea is tremendous. The chance to see professional baseball in South Korea is something that baseball fans everywhere should try to experience.
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