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Groundhopper's Guide to..... Ulsan Munsu Football Stadium

Last season, Ulsan Hyundai claimed its first K League Championship since 2005, finally overhauling their great rivals to the west, Jeonbuk Motors. As we head down the final stretch, the Tigers are odds-on to go back-to-back so Munsu Stadium should feature on every 'hopping wishlist. This is our short guide to their stadium.

Hong Myung-bo's Ulsan Hyundai finally ended Jeonbuk Motors' stranglehold on K League 1 last year and with his team clear at the summit in 2023, Ulsan should close out successive championships this autumn (Pohang disagrees). Following Covid-19 disputed seasons, the AFC Champions League is also back, offering football fans another opportunity to check out the club's World Cup Stadium.

Opened in 2001, Munsu Football Stadium was built for the FIFA World Cup but earned global attention the previous summer when it hosted games at the Confederations Cup. Korea Republic and France both beat Mexico in Ulsan that summer before Australia defeated Brazil in the 3rd/4th play-off. In 2002, Ulsan staged two group stage games and the quarter-final clash between Germany and USA.

Munsu is a symmetrical double-tiered football-specific stadium with a capacity of 43,000. Like most of the World Cup stadiums, it has undergone some renovations, with tables and tents/camping zones added to improve the match-day experience. Munsu has one large screen hanging over the South Stand and a bizarre screen over the North Stand that looks like it shrunk in the washing.


Location:

Ulsan is a coastal city in South-East Korea, 60 kilometers north of Busan and 100 km east of Daegu. The city is famous for its port, one of the busiest and most important in Korea. Ulsan has a stop on the KTX line but the station is nowhere near the city centre. The Taewha River divides the city in two and is connected to Munsu by the smaller Moogeo Cheon.

Munsu Stadium is located far away from downtown Ulsan, between the Bus Terminal (9 km east) and the KTX Station (17 km west). Of the World Cup Stadiums in Korea, Munsu is probably the least convenient to access. It forms part of a sports complex and is next to a ballpark which Busan-based Lotte Giants use a few times every summer.


Transport Options:

- train: There is no subway system in Ulsan but the KTX station is roughly 17 km from Munsu. The intercity red bus (5004) goes door-to-door in around 45 minutes. Alternatively, the 5001 is an option but requires a walk or transfer near the river.
- bus: There are plenty of buses from central Ulsan to the stadium. Check local apps for convenient routes. These buses fill up quickly after a game.
- car: Parking is available all around the stadium. Matchdays are busy and expect the car park to fill up for big games and the approach roads to be very busy.


Tickets:

- Online: Ticketlink is the exclusive seller of Ulsn Hyundai tickets online. The app is more user-friendly than its rivals and has a good map and page for pricing options.
- Ticket booth: There are ticket booths dotted around the stadium. Unless it is a championship decider against Jeonbuk, buying tickets on the day won't be a problem.


Where to sit:

The cameraman gets ready before the recent Ulsan Hyundai versus Jeonbuk Motors game at Munsu. For the images in this article, I've used ones taken in February and August, hence the changes in clothing and attendance. All images were taken from instagram.com/groundhopping_korea.
Munsu has a lower and upper tier, but the upper tier is basically divided into two levels (2층 and 3층). There is no difference in the price of the seats so if you can get a seat at the front of the tier (2층) the views are spectacular.

The sun sets over the West Stand at half-time during a bitterly cold game in February 2022.
The West Stand is the main stand at Munsu. This is where the VIP boxes, media seats, and premium sections are located. The players enter the field from beneath the West Stand and the dugouts are pitchside in front of this stand. Even the regular seats (₩18,000) are more expensive here, even though the view is just as good as the East Stand.

Jeonbuk Motors' players are serenaded off the pitch during August's narrow victory. Can you see the squashed screen?
The East Stand is probably the best place to watch a game in Munsu. Normally, I opt for seats across from the main stand. There's a superb view of the pitch from the upper tier, you can see both TV screens and observe the fans' chanting from here. The lower edges feature tables and tents (₩75,000). Tickets start at ₩14,000.

The home fans in the South Stand before the August clash.
Behind the goals in the South Stand, there is a safe section that sells out almost immediately. In the height of summer, water is sprayed on fans to cool them down. Ulsan's supporters make a lot of noise but one downside to standing or sitting here is you can only see the odd, squashed TV screen on the north end. Tickets start at ₩14,000.

Fans (including the away fans) in the North Stand have the best view of the scoreboard.
Away fans are housed in the North-West corner. The North Stand has a perfect view of the stadium's main TV and much quicker access to taxis and buses after the game, as the main road to the KTX Station and downtown passes to the north. Tickets start at ₩14,000.

Merchandise:

There are plenty of small stores, inside and outside the stadium, to buy merchandise. The selection of casual wear is, in my opinion, really disappointing, but that's not unique to Ulsan. Most fans wear jerseys but, if like me, you just want to get a cheap t-shirt with the club's name or logo on the front, you're out of luck. Even scarves will cost up to ₩30,000.

Jerseys and scarves were sold behind the East Stand.

Food:

Food trucks are a feature at grounds up and down the country. Inside, you can buy chicken and other snacks like ramen at the circular stores that sell beer. The queues are very, very long so be prepared. The best time to get food, beer, or soft drinks is about 15 minutes before halftime. You might miss a goal.....

The only image I got of a store inside Munsu, and it isn't very helpful.

Drink:

2022 was the year of the Tiger, and Munsu sold the Singaporean beer as the Tigers went on to win their first title in nearly two decades. This season, however, despite Tiger adverts splashed across various parts of the stadium, Heineken was everywhere. Staff will make a half-hearted plea to pour your beer into a plastic cup, but they're normally so busy, they just let you walk off.

Back-to-back champs?

Post game:

Munsu Stadium has a tour option for ₩10,000. You can buy tickets on the ground or from Ticketlink. The tour starts in the West Stand.


Finally, if you are planning to visit this stadium or any others in Korea, and haven't already done so, please download the Futbology app. It is a great way to find information about stadiums and keep track of all the teams and grounds you have visited.

FNR

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