Playing by the Rules of Korean Baseball
After a frustrating battle with Ticketlink, Jared and I managed to score tickets for a baseball game in Daegu. I haven’t been to too many baseball games in my life, but I had high expectations from this one. I’d heard that Korean fans go wild, regardless of how good their team is.
I wasn’t disappointed, though I was under prepared.
Apparently, there are a few must-haves when it comes to being a baseball spectator in Korea.
1. Fried Chicken and Beer (or dried squid)
Baseball just isn’t baseball without a giant box of fried chicken. Hawkers (read: elderly women wearing visors) surround the stadium, thrusting business cards in your hand and waving boxes of chicken in your face. Boxes of chicken that they probably bought from nearby stores early that morning. Boxes of chicken that have been hanging out in the hot sun for hours.
If chicken’s not your thing, no worries. You can always pick up some dried squid inside the stadium. Or, like the group of students next to us, you can bring some seaweed soup, keep it in a box, and eat it at the end of the night.
Take your pick.
Personally, I went with Patbingsu, my absolute favorite summer dessert in Korea. It’s a combination of shaved ice, condensed milk, sweet red bean, fruit cocktail, and chocolate or strawberry syrup, all topped with cornflakes.
Truly, I can’t express how delicious it was.
As far as beer goes, you can purchase it in the stadium (2,000 won per can, and they even have OB Golden Lager – the best local option) or you can bring it in. Most people brought it in with their chicken.
Since we were in Daegu, we decided to root for the home team, the Daegu Lions.
Wait – that’s not quite right. Instead of naming the teams after the cities where they’re based, teams are named for the corporation that owns them. As I read on another blog, it’d be like calling the Cubs the ‘Wal-Mart Cubs.’
So make that the Samsung Lions. The Samsung Lions have blue jerseys, so the seats were packed with blue. Blue hats, t-shirts, signs, blow-up sticks, on kids and adults alike.
There are a few exceptions – if you’re female, you can wear full makeup, tight jeans, and sky-high heels. Males have the option of wearing jeans, a blazer, and a man bag.
The couple next to us broke the rules a little bit by not wearing Lions memorabilia, but they pulled through by wearing matching Captain America couples’ shirts.
She also packed a mirror. Not a compact-sized one that you can use discreetly. A full-on silver mirror with a long handle.
Apparently the rules are to look at yourself in this mirror at least twice during each inning. I was aghast to see her boyfriend using it too. They adjusted his hair together right before taking a self-pic with her smartphone.
It was very distracting.
4. Sun protection
It was freakin’ hot, but I didn’t see one single person slathering on sunscreen.
What I saw was a sea of dainty parasols shielding their owners from the sun. In one extreme case, I spotted a girl with a fleece blanket draped over her legs.
A blanket. On a 30 degree day.
Jared pointed out that she was probably wearing short shorts and trying to retain a smidgen of modesty. Whatever her reason, I couldn’t accept it. Fleece blankets and sweltering heat do not mix.
For those who didn’t bring their parasols or blankets (shudder), sleeves were a popular option.
These sleeves are a phenomenon that I’ve noticed since we first arrived in Korea. They’re like pantyhose for your arms, and stretch from the sleeve of your t-shirt to your wrist. Based on a tv commercial I saw, they claim to wick away sweat and keep you cool.
So they claim.
5. Binoculars (If you’re in the cheap seats)
This isn’t so you can see the game. The stadiums are still relatively small, so views of the field are good from anywhere.
No, this is so you can look across to the assigned seats and see how much freakin’ fun they’re having.
Going to see a baseball game is refreshingly cheap – our general admission seats were only 7,000 won each. We’d hoped for tickets in one of the assigned sections (8,000 or 9,000 won) but they sold out within two hours of going on sale.
The main difference between the 7,000 and 9,000 won seats are probably the cheerleaders. They, along with the mascots (a lion and lioness, both surprisingly agile in their costumes) staged a full-on dance party. We caught strains of “Jump!” by Kriss Kross from our end, and could just about see the girls making the crowd go wild.
Towards the end of the sixth inning, an odd drumming sound filled the stadium.
“What is that?” I asked.
Then I saw it – balloons. Somebody had distributed blue balloons to everyone in the crowd – except the general admission people. There was a barrier between our section and the others, so we could see the balloons bouncing wildly above the heads of the VIPs.
It’s cool. I don’t need a balloon or dancing girls to have a good time.
We’re planning to hit Daejeon later this summer, home of the Hanwha Eagles. I’ll be fully prepared with some fried chicken, a cooler of beer, and maybe even spring for some better seats. No, scratch that – I’ll just bring my own balloon.
Probably going to leave the mirror at home, though.