Hyundai Tigers and Mobis Phoebus
Attending a sports event in Korea is definitely an experience. Of course, you’ll have the hardcore fans, the pride of a city and a good sports team or a not-so-good sports team, but what is different about going to a sports event in Korea is the entertainment and cheering props. Our first weekend here, we went to a soccer game; Ulsan Hyundai Tigers versus Busan I’Park. The game took place at Munsu Stadium (AKA Big Crown Stadium), site of the 2002 FIFA World Cup. The stadium wasn’t full on that Sunday night, but the fans made up for it. Instead of a marching band, they had huge drums that filled the stadium with a roaring sound. The soccer team didn’t have cheerleaders and the halftime show was a surprise. They had women dressed in some sort of traditional Hindi/belly dancing costume and belly danced for a few minutes. Then, little did we know that we were sitting next to the fireworks set up! Huge fireworks shot to the sky and the ashes and remains fell on us. The only time there are fireworks for halftime shows in America are for the Super Bowl. Koreans go all out for things that seem so minute to us.
A basketball game is something to experience as well. A few weeks ago, the Ministry of Education (MOE) set up a semi-sports day for the foreign teachers. We went a gym at an elementary school and played basketball, foot volleyball, hoola-hooped, had a three-legged race and pretty much played like 7 year olds again.
After our day of games and prizes, we went to the Ulsan Mobis Phoebus basketball game. As we walked in the stadium, we could feel the energy of the fans. The basketball players were as tall as ever but the cheerleaders were very unique. Their uniforms didn’t even match those of the basketball players. They wore hot pink tops and skirts with high-top white shoes. After half-time, they changed their clothes to white t-shirts and a pleated jean skirt. They had fake eyelashes and held their pom poms loosely. The MOE scheduled a photo shoot with the cheerleaders after the game, but we haven’t seen the pictures yet. We had a special section for all of the teachers. They gave us their version of hand clappers, two long balloons that make a lot of noise when you bang them together.
The major difference I noticed at the basketball game was when the players started to play. If Ulsan had the ball, they would play loud music until the other team had the ball. In America, it’s okay to cheer while the game is going on, but it is disrespectful to play music while the teams are playing. Sometimes, I didn’t even know they had started a new play because the music was so loud. But, Ulsan won! And we got more prizes! I won a ferry ride from Busan to Jeju Island.