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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Fleeting Glimpses

No 2: Olympic Stadium, Seoul, South Korea

Olympic Stadium, Seoul

The Lotte World Hotel (from which this picture of the Olympic Stadium was taken in 1996) was within a few hundred meters of a subway station and I found getting around the capital to be quite painless using a combination of the subway system and, to a lesser extent, taxis. All route maps and signs are written in both Korean and English, and the pre-recorded announcements in the trains themselves are in Korean and English too. However, you’d be well advised to ask an English speaking local to write out in Korean any destination that you plan to reach by taxi, and hand this to the driver.

In a city as crowded as Seoul room is at a premium and looking up at roof tops gives you an idea of how ingeniously space can be used. Roof top miniature golf ranges for one. Quite bizarre. Worth checking out are the Karaoke Bars (hugely popular in the country) and the local cuisine* such as grilled beef served with Kimchi, a spicy vegetable dish.

Kimchi and other stuff

Eating and Karaoke aside, as you would expect in the world’s second largest metropolitan area (population 24.5 million) there is quite a bit to see and do. Perhaps the most striking feature is the Han River which (roughly) splits the city in half and is more than a kilometer in width - that’s more than double the width of the Thames as it passes through central London. Also quite striking are the bridges than span the Han – some twenty-seven in all.

Olympic Bridge, Seoul

Not far from one of these crossings and a short distance away from the hotel, is the Seoul Olympic Stadium, built, ostensibly, for the 1988 Summer Olympics, but first used for the 10th Asian Games two years earlier. According to Wikipedia “the lines of the stadium's profile imitate the elegant curves of a Korean Joseon Dynasty porcelain vase” although you’d be hard pressed to tell that from my photo.

Olympic Stadium, Seoul

When first opened the stadium boasted a capacity of 100,000 although today this has been reduced to just under 70,000. Seating is on two-tiers with cover provided by a retractable roof. Overlooked as a venue for the 2002 Japan/Korea World Cup (the purpose built Seoul World Cup Stadium hosted the three games played in the capital) it is currently the home stadium of Seoul United in the K3 League, the third tier of organised football in Korea. Time limitations prevented me from getting a look inside the stadium which was a great shame.

The selection of host nation for the 2002 World Cup was a hot topic during my visit. Of course Korea and Japan went on to host the event as I looked enviously on at those able to make it there for all or part of the four week footie fest.

* a work colleague was quick to point out that the use of dog in Korean cooking was not quite as common as we in the west may have been lead to believe.

posted by chevblue at 6:20 pm






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AZ Alkmaar
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AZ Alkmaar
(Olympic Stadium, Amsterdam)

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FC Groningen
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FC Utrecht
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PEC Zwolle
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PSV Eindhoven
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SC Heerenveen
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Twente Enschede
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Willem II
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ITALY

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Avenir Beggen
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POLAND

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Real Madrid
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Valencia
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Orgryte IS
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Helsingborgs IF
(Olympia Stadium)

Landskrona Bois
(Idrottspark)

Malmo FF
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Mjallby AIF
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Trelleborgs FF
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IFK Goteborg
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USA

Chicago Sting
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Chicago Sting
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Chicago Sting
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Chicago Sting
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Chicago Sting
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Chicago Vultures
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Milwaukee Bavarians
(Bavarian Center)

Schwaben AC
(Schwaben Center)

Tampa Bay Rowdies
(Tampa Bay Stadium)