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Groundhopping K League 2

Thirteen clubs make up Korea's second tier and most are located in easily accessible regions serviced by excellent transport links. K League 2 is the most achievable Futbology "league completed" badge in the country. This is all you need to know.



K League 2 must be the envy of most global leagues right now. A half-dozen clubs are in with a realistic chance of automatic promotion, with a further two clubs that could mount a serious challenge for one of the play-off spots on offer. We'll touch on the most important fixtures in an upcoming article, but these are the current clubs and their locations.

The summer holidays are around the corner and it won't always be this wet, so for football fans looking to check in to second-division grounds, tie them in with other matches, and see new parts of the country, these are the K League 2 locations.


Seoul and Gyeonggi-do

Six of the 13 clubs currently competing in K League 2 are in the Seoul Capital Area, south of the Han River. Seoul E-Land is the only capital club in this league, and they're joined by Gimpo FC, Bucheon FC 1995, FC Anyang, Anyang Greeners, and Seongnam FC in Gyeonggi province.

The distances between these clubs are, mostly, quite short and all six are next to, or within walking distance, of the Seoul metro system. In theory, groundhoppers could jump from stadium to stadium without the use of any other mode of transport. For cycling enthusiasts, FC Anyang and Seoul E-land are based on the banks of the same river. Through Korea's extensive bike lanes and connecting rivers, Seongnam FC is a bike ride from E-Land and Anyang, too.  

Anyang and Ansan Greeners are separated by 8 stops on Line 4. Anyang is 19 km south of Seoul E-Land's temporary base in Mokdong Stadium, the former home of Bucheon FC 1995. Bucheon Stadium is 10 km west of Mokdong. Bucheon to Anyang takes less time than a half of football. 

Seoul E-Land will eventually move back to their original home in Jamsil, reigniting the Tancheon Derby versus Seongnam. Aside from the subway, Anyang and Ansan are connected to Seongnam by inter-city buses. Gimpo FC is more isolated but the closest station, Masan on the Gimpo Goldline, is just an hour from Bucheon FC and E-Land. 


Chungcheong-do

Even though this province is divided into North and South, the three football clubs in this part of middle Korea are close enough to be ticked off in a single weekend, if the kick-off times permit. This possibility occurred in early April when Cheonan City FC played on Saturday, then Chungbuk Cheongju FC on Sunday (13:30), and Chungnam Asan FC (18:30) on the same day.

The cities of Asan and Cheonan share a major stop on the KTX line (although it is much closer to the latter) but both are situated near the southern end of Seoul's enormous Line 1, separated by five stations (and a walk). Cheongju is 50 km south (despite being in North Chungbuk province) but can be reached by slow and high-speed trains, and buses.

Gyeongsangnam-do

Busan IPark FC and Gyeongnam FC have much more than regional bragging rights to look forward to this season. At the halfway point in July, both clubs are near the summit of K League 2 and should be serious challengers for automatic promotion. It is 41 km from turnstile to turnstile with an intercity bus being the best option.

The rest

Gimcheon Sangmu FC and Jeonnam Dragons are the remaining two clubs. 

Gimcheon is probably the most centrally-located club in the entire country. The stadium's floodlights are visible from the Gyeong-bu expressway, somewhere between Daejeon and Daegu. Gimcheon has no obvious rivals and while doubleheader weekends are possible, combining a trip to see the army team with K League 1 football is more convenient.

And that leaves us with the 2021 FA Cup winners, Jeonnam Dragons. Mainland Korea's southernmost club is one I'll finally visit this autumn. Gyeongnam FC, 115 km east, is the closest club in the division to Jeonnam Dragons, and the journey is spectacular if you have a car. A slow train from Jinsang Station is also possible.

The Stadiums

The actual stadium is crucial to maximizing the experience of visiting a new ground. As any groundhopper will tell you, nothing beats the sense of expectation building up to a new stadium visit. This intensifies when you see the floodlights in the distance, scanning your ticket at the turnstile, and then the first view of inside the stadium and its pitch.

These are the 13 grounds that will be used from now until the end of the season.

(All photos from instagram.com/groundhopping_korea)

Seoul E-Land. Mokdong Stadium. Capacity 15,511.

Mokdong is a multi-use stadium with a running track, one screen, and minimal roof cover. There are no temporary seats.



Gimpo FC. Solteo. Capacity 5,000.

Small, compact ground without a track or obstructed views. There are three stands and a good atmosphere overall.


Ansan Greeners. Wa~ Stadium. Capacity 35,000.

Large, multi-use civic stadium comprising two vast, double-tiered stands with a roof. No temporary seating.



FC Anyang. Anyang Stadium. Capacity 17,143.

Multi-use arena but the impact of the track is negated by three temporary stands pitch-side. Almost no roof cover.



Bucheon FC 1995, Bucheon Stadium. Capacity 34,456

Like Ansan, this is a big stadium that once hosted international football. Two temporary stands diminish the impact of the track.



Seongnam FC, Tancheon Stadium. Capacity 16,146

Three small, connected stands and one oversized main stand. There is a small temporary stand behind one of the goals.



Cheonan City FC. Cheonan Stadium. Capacity 26,000.

Similar looking stadium to Bucheon's although there isn't as much roof cover. Also hosted international football.

Chungbuk Cheongju. Cheongju Stadium. Capacity 16,280.

Multi-use, civic arena (most are) with a running track but no temporary seating. Plenty of standing space at the back.


Chungnam Asan FC. Yi Sun-sin Stadium. Capacity 19,283

Rinse and repeat. Multi-use, local government-owned stadium but, like Cheongju, has no temporary seating. Quite a nice stadium, however.



Busan IPark FC. Gudeok Stadium. Capacity 12,349

Busan IPark recently moved back into this ground from the city's enormous Asiad Stadium. It has a track but is a much better fit for the club.

Gyeongnam FC. Changwon Football Centre. Capacity 15,074

Hallelujah. No running track here. Definitely one of the nicest stadiums in the league, and possibly the country.


Gimcheon Sangmu FC. Gimcheon Stadium. Capacity 25,000

Multi-use, civic stadium with a running track but, fortunately, there is one temporary stand opposite the main stand. Limited roof cover.


Jeonnam Dragons FC. Gwangyang Stadium. Capacity 13,496

A football-specific stadium, similar to Gyeongnam, nicknamed Dragon Dungeon.

Tickets

There are two main apps you need to use in Korea if you want to purchase tickets in advance (not necessary).
Ticketlink: Gimcheon Sangmu FC, FC Anyang, Gyeongnam FC, Chungnam Asan, Gimpo FC, Ansan Greeners, Jeonnam Dragons, and Chungbuk Cheongju,
Interpark: Seongnam FC, Bucheon FC 1995, Seoul E-Land, and Cheonan City FC.

The Best Time To Go

Games start later in the evening during the hot and humid Korean summers. However, on either side of the traditional summer months, there are plenty of opportunities to see two games on the same day, especially in Seoul and Gyeonggi-do. For the rest, you might get lucky but realistically, they'll be done over an entire weekend.

FNR



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