Category: Sports

Baseball in Ulsan!

By , March 10, 2014 12:50 pm


The new baseball stadium at the Munsu Sports Complex is ready to open, with two Lotte Giants vs Hanwha Eagles games on March 22 and 23, both games starting at 1:00pm. To kick off the new season, and the new venue, both of these games will be free! (Go early!!)

Korean baseball is a great sport to watch, partly because the players are high calibre, and partly because the crowds are as active as European soccer fans, or American football fans. There are chants, songs, dances, and it’s generally a rowdy fun time. Also, Korean stadiums tend to be a little more open to people bringing in outside food and beverages (not bottles, though), and the concession stand prices are fairly reasonable.

So, head over to Mugeodong on March 22 or 23, and root-root-root for the home team, if they don’t win it’s a shame.  For it’s one, two, three strikes you’re out, at the old ball game.

Reel Rock Film Tour: Daegu

By , December 4, 2013 9:47 pm


From Korea On The Rocks Initiative (KOTRi), a charitable organization that helps install and replace safe rock climbing protection and anchors on climbing sites throughout Korea: KFT_Facebook Cover Photo

KOTRI.org is once again bringing the best in climbing and adventure films to audiences in Korea this winter with its fourth Reel Rock Film Tour Event. The evening promises awesome prize giveaways, raffles and a breathtaking film lineup that will get your heart racing and your palms sweating.  This year’s KOTRi.org Film Tour brings together the Reel Rock Tour, as well as 2 unique and local films from our community. Lee Sung Jae’s film, “Uleung-do,”  looks to uncover the beauty of this remote island off the Korean coast, while The Dedicated Everyman’s film,“Unclimbed,” explores the remote unclimbed giants of the  Zanskar region of northern India. (There will be an article on this film posted shortly on UlsanOnline – stay tuned – Ed)

 

KOTRi hosts this annual film tour to bring local and expat outdoor enthusiasts and rock climbers together in celebration of adventure, adrenaline and extreme filmmaking. Combining the biggest names in rock climbing with stories of pushing the limits of climbing like never before, the films showcase the very best of the sport and will keep audiences on the edge of their seats.

 

 

More than growing the reach of the sport, the event is a chance for Korea’s outdoor communities to give back to the peninsula’s beautiful natural environment. KOTRi’s mandate is to develop, maintain and improve Korea’s climbing environment. The non-profit organization was founded in 2010 and has initiated a range of projects around Korea to ensure that the country’s rock climbing spots are safe, well equipped and environmentally sustainable.  The Reel Rock Film Tour is KOTRi’s biggest annual fundraiser and has raised over 25 million won over the past three years towards keeping Korea’s climbing areas safe.

 

The films will be screened in Daegu on December 14th from 5pm to 10pm at Kyungpook Universities Global Plaza theatre. Tickets are available in advance for 10,000 W or at the door for 15,000 W. Discounts are available for groups and KOTRI.org members.  Visit kotri.org to get more information on the events and to book tickets.

In June, 2013, Mammut Korea agreed to a full partnership with KOTRI.org. We are pleased to host this year’s event with our official partner, Mammut Korea.  Event sponsors include Eunpyeong-Gu district office, Evolv, Julbo, Prana, Outdoor Global, Magpie Brewing Company and CAYL (Climb As You Love).

RRT_A3 Poster_ENG

 

Munsu Stadium Sports Complex

By , November 13, 2013 1:24 am


Built for the 2002 World Cup, the Munsu Stadium overlooks a vast park and sporting complex that offers the residents of Ulsan many opportunities to enjoy a variety of recreational activities.

Munsu Map

A map of the grounds

The biggest feature of the complex is obviously the Stadium itself – home to the Hyundai Tigers K-League soccer team, and sometimes host of international friendlies, or screenings of overseas World Cup matches for the Korean team. The stadium seats 44,466 people, though it rarely sees capacity crowds these days. The last full house was when the Hyundai Tigers won the AFC League Championships in 2012, against Al-Alhi from Saudi Arabia.

The building also has a wedding hall, because they have do something to pay for the maintenance of the grass (rumoured to be over a million dollars a year).

The main entrance (not a game day)

The main entrance (not a game day)

Seating layout within the stadium

Seating layout within the stadium

Tiger tickets

Rough translations and spacing problems. Sorry it's crowded!

Rough translations and spacing problems. Sorry it’s crowded!

Behind the stadium lies a smaller soccer pitch with a track and stands that hold 2,590 people, along with several practice pitches that can be rented out.

The secondary stadium - with a running track!

The secondary stadium – with a running track!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Practice pitches come complete with miniature soccer players!

On the other side of the parking area from the 2nd stadium is the swimming pool, which also has a gym. The opening hours are Weekdays 06:00-22:00, Saturday 06:00-18:00. Prices are listed below.

The entrance to the swimming pool

The entrance to the swimming pool

Swimming pool gym

Swimming pool gym

Here is a rough translation of the pricing board at the swimming pool:

Swimming Rates

Children are aged 4-12, Teens are 12-19, Adults are 19-64, Seniors are 65+:

There is also a “Skin SCUBA Diving Pool”:

Diving Pool

Please note, these are rough translations. I recommend either calling or heading in for more information.

Around this area, there is a lot of open space for strolling, biking with kids, etc. There are some lovely gardens and walkways, including an extensive track around the lake. In the summer, the end of the pond is home to blooming water-lilies and lotus plants, with a boardwalk built to help you appreciate their beauty. There is also a rose garden by the main entrance to the Stadium, and a trellised path that grows a variety of flowers. The landscaping is quite beautiful, from cultivated shrubs to a “wilderness” area on the far side of the lake where quiet walkers may startle rabbits or pheasants. The whole complex is ringed by a cycling path and a rubberized jogging track.

The rose garden by the main entrance (photo taken in late October)

The rose garden by the main entrance (photo taken in late October)

The outdoor amphitheatre, over looking the lake

The outdoor amphitheatre, over looking the lake

The lake can also be enjoyed from the Whale and Swan Boats, which are available to rent. 10,000 won will get you 40 minutes of cruising around the pond. Bring bread for feeding the ducks or fish that will inevitably follow you around.

The boat house

The boat house

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Swan and Whale paddle boats on the lake

There is also a large outdoor concert venue overlooking the lake, which often hosts K-Pop performances, or screenings of Korean games during the World Cup. During the day, there is a small coffee shop and convenience store where you can buy refreshments, and sit at patio tables.

A view of the outdoor concert venue from the Boat House roof

A view of the outdoor concert venue/cafe area from the Boat House roof

Out behind the lake, tucked into a small parking lot which seems to house clubs for Korean Veterans, there is also a new Squash Courts building.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Rough translation of Squash Court Fees

Rough translation of Squash Court Fees

Court use is for 1 hour time slots. The courts are open Mon-Fri from 10:00-21:00 (one-time use tickets are available 10:00-18:00), Saturday and Holidays 09:00- 18:00 for all sections. The facilities are new, and looked quite shiny and clean when we popped our heads in. Here are the specs:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Currently under construction, just across the road from the Squash Courts is the new Baseball Stadium, which will seat 12,000 Lotte Giants fans in their 2nd Home Stadium, starting summer 2014. This photo was taken in Oct 2013. Still a bit of work to be done before the first pitch is thrown.

New baseball stadium, under construction (2013)

New baseball stadium, under construction (2013)

Now, all the way back on the other side of the main stadium, if you cross the road and walk up about a million steps, you’ll find a whole ‘nother section of sports and recreation options available to you.

At the very top of the steps, or to the right of the parking lot if you drive up the hill, is a large inline-skating track, which circles around a large paved area that is open for a number of in-line (or roller) skate activities. There is also a small inline skate arena, with seating and banked sides.

Inline skate stadium track

Inline skate stadium track

 

Inline skate track

Inline skate track – this was hard to get a good photo of, so please forgive me.

To the left of these, there are a number of tennis courts, with both hard and clay tops. The rates are posted below. I couldn’t find any distinct hours of operation, but a list of bookings suggested they’re open from 10:00-21:00.

Tennis building

Tennis building

Clay courts

Clay courts

Hard courts

Hard courts

Rough translation. 면 may actually mean "earth dug by crabs, ants or rats", but I thought "Section" was the closer guess.

Rough translation. 면 may actually mean “earth dug by crabs, ants or rats”, according to my translation ap.

Just across from the tennis courts, at the top end of the inline skate track, there is the Munsu Shooting Range. Korea has very strict gun laws, prohibiting anyone but military personnel or police from carrying firearms. The only place citizens can go to shoot guns are licensed ranges, like this one (see David’s article on the Gyeongju range for another option in the area).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Shooting Range price

Finally, in the farthest-flung corner of the complex, hidden behind the tennis courts and parking lot, there is the Munsu Lawn Bowling Rinks (is “rinks” the official term for a bowling lawn?). Unfortunately, the building was closed, and they didn’t seem to have any easy-to-interpret information available on the doors, so all I can tell you is that this exists.

Lawn Bowling headquarters

Lawn Bowling headquarters

The bowling rinks

The bowling rinks. Probably not allowed to picnic on there…

And there you have it. The Munsu Sports Complex. Lots to do for everyone, from quiet strolls around the lake to rowdy sets of lawn bowling, to watching ladies in hanbok attend family weddings. It’s a great place to spend a sunny afternoon being active, or drinking beer while watching other people run around.

For Information or Help, please call 052-220-2191~2193. There may not be an English speaker available, so it’s best to have a Korean speaker call.

 

 

Making Ulsan Connections through Facebook

By , July 30, 2013 7:28 pm


It’s rare these days to come across someone who isn’t on Facebook. The Social Media site has taken on a huge role in many of our lives, as an easy way to keep in touch with friends and family back home (even if it’s just passively checking statuses or flipping through photo albums) while we’re living abroad. It’s also a great way to meet new people and discover ways to get involved in your new community while you’re living here. Ulsan has always had a very active foreign community, and with help from the members of the Ulsan Online Facebook group, I’ve compiled a list of groups that can help you make connections, and get more out of your time in the Land of the Morning Calm.

General help for living in Ulsan

Ulsan Online – with over 1800 members, and growing every day, this is probably the most active group online in Ulsan. The intention is to extend the information available on our website – if you can’t find an answer to your question on here, ask it there!

Ulsan Used Goods – a buy and sell list. Since many expats are here only for a year or two, there is a rather steady trade in basic household products and furniture, or even the odd vehicle. If you need something, or want to unload something you can’t bring

home, check it out.

Ulsan Parents Club - great support if you have little ones. They occasionally organize group outings, such as picnics and Christmas parties.

Ulsan Mothers Group – similar to above.

What’s Hot in Hogye – for anyone living in Buk-gu (the north end of the city), in neighbourhoods like Hogye and Hwabong, as it can feel a little isolated out there. There’s also the Yeonamazing group for people in Hwabong and Yeonam dongs.

Dong-gu Ulsan – a similar group for people living in Dong-gu, which can also feel a bit cut off from the rest of the city at times.

Eonyang Family – for those way out in Ulju-gun, by the KTX station.

Volunteering

T-Hope - Teachers Helping Other People Everywhere. A group of volunteers who do orphanage visits, gather donations for charity, and run fundraising events. This is a page, not a group, but you can find out more about them through this link.

T-Hope – Lotus Center for Autistic Children

Language Skills

Ulsan Language Exchange Table and

Let’s Talk Talk Ulsan - these two groups organize events where Koreans and English-speakers can come together to practice their other language. Usually half the event is run in English, half in Korean.

Ulsan Korean Study Group - a group centered around the study of the Korean Language in Ulsan. In this group you can share your tips and materials on studying Korean.

Ulsan Skype Cultural Exchange Group - meet up over Skype, from the comfort of your own home.

Spanish Conversation in Ulsan - get together with other Spanish language speakers to keep up your skills.

Hobbies and Recreation (these are pretty straight forward)

Ulsan Online Debate Forum

Ulsan Photography Club 

Ulsan Wine Club

Ulsan Dog Owners 

Ulsan Social Dance

Industrial Theatre Troupe

Irish in Ulsan

Ulsan Partying

Ulsan Happenings

Ulsan AfterHours

Ulsan Social Club

Ulsan Homebrew Group

Sports

Ulsan Rock Climbing

Foreigners CAN Hike

Ulsan, Busan, Daegu, Pohang Ice Hockey

Ulsan Football (American style, not soccer)

Ulsan Bolts Rugby Club

Won Shot Wanderers FC  (soccer/football)

R.O.K. STARS 2013  (basketball)

Ulsan Sports - for a wide variety

Ulsan Ultimate Frisbee (UFF)

Healthy People of Ulsan

Waeguks Got Runs – for runners/joggers. Often lists marathons and other running events.

Teaching Support

Ulsan Substitute Teacher Group - if you need cover for a day off at your hogwan, try listing it here.

Ulsan MOE Substitute Teacher Group – same as above, but for public school teachers.

Teachers in Ulsan – share resources, get advice for dealing with difficult classes, etc.

Ulsan EPIK – for public school teachers.

High School Teachers in Korea - support for the small number of native speaker High School teachers.

Ulsan Middle School Teachers

Resources for Teachers in Ulsan

Student Support

UISO – UNIST International Student Organization, for students at Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology.

University of Ulsan International Students Association

Religious Organizations

Ulsan English Fellowship - A Mission Outreach of the First Congregational United Church of Christ

Ulsan Catholic Community

Simin International Church Ulsan

Ulsan Han-Fil Families – Korean-Filipino families “working together to fulfill the will of Heaven.”

 

 

 

The 6th Annual Ulsan Cup is on This Weekend!

By , May 15, 2013 9:11 pm


In a community where people are constantly coming and going, where businesses change almost overnight, and the entire city doesn’t stop building and growing, it can be hard to feel a sense of consistency. But there are a few things you can count on besides change. The Won Shot Wanderers Football Club has been a stable part of the Ulsan ex-pat community now for over a decade – quite a feat in a city where ex-pats rarely stay for more than a year.

Ulsan cup graphic.

Started in the wake of the 2002 World Cup, the Won Shots have become one of the longest running expat teams in Korea. John Buckley, from Ireland, and Gareth Copely, from England, were two of the original team members whose passion for the sport kept the team going in the early years. Philip Heo, who joined the team in 2003, is another member who has helped ensure its long term survival. I recently interviewed Philip (over email, due to my making a mistake and missing the interview, for which I deeply apologize to the whole team) about the Won Shots, and particularly their upcoming Ulsan Cup Tournament, being held at the Taehwa Simnidaebat Pitches in Taehwadong this weekend (May 17th-18th).

The first Ulsan Cup was held in November 2008, following the Won Shots joining the Ulsan Amateur Football League in 2006. With the help of the Ulsan League commissioners, and support from Benchwarmers Bar owners, Troy McDonald and Hazel Smith, the dreams of expat football players to have a proper nationwide tournament were turned into a reality. Keeping things running long-term in the expat community can be a challenge, but Philip’s attitude towards the Cup is a key factor in it’s longevity, “Trivial things always happen during the organization of any major sporting event, but if we focus on the football tournament itself, satisfying participants, the event is always a success. Some other cities or organizations with much bigger budgets than us hosted tournaments for expats, but they didn’t last long.”

295906_10150837463750066_638790065_20821332_374259780_n

This is the only chance for foreigners to simulate the style of play from their home countries. It gives us that familiarity and comfort that we don’t often experience, and with the great organisation of the Ulsan Cup, the many foreigner teams, etc, it gives us that big tournament feel. All the ingredients come together to make it so enjoyable and important to all who are involved,” said Dan Shaw, the Won Shot Wanderers Captain for 2012-2013.

The Ulsan Cup has been well received in the past.

“We have enjoyed critical acclaim from across the Republic of Korea, and we are now even being courted by national media to cover the event,” explains Philip. “There are of course things that we try to improve upon every year, and even the best events could be better, but to hear most teams say it’s some of the best memories they make in Korea makes everyone associated with the Cup smile. It is such an important date in the sporting calendar that players who have left to live in other countries fly back to Korea to play in the Ulsan Cup.”

314393_10150837462280066_638790065_20821308_889600289_n

 

This year, 16 teams from 11 different provinces or cities around Korea are participating, including 2 teams from Ulsan, the Won Shot Wanderers and the Foreigner’s Compound Football Club (FCFC). The full list of teams is as follows:

Ulsan – Wonshot Wanderers & FCFC
Busan – Busan United & Inter Busan
Deagu – Deagu Devils & FC Deagu
Seoul – SBFC, Seoul St Pat’s, and Storndang Villa
Suwon – Inter Suwon
Jeju – Jejuventus
Daejon – Galma FC
Gwangyang and Suncheon – Gwangsun International
Seoul Gyeonggi- Malaysian Students FC
Jeonju Jeolla- Jeonju United
Gwangju – Gwangju Inter

2012-05-27 17.33.31

The Won Shots themselves are a diverse team. “We have and have had members from over forty different nations and diverse religious backgrounds. We currently have players from the UK, Ireland, USA, Wales, Scotland, France, Canada, South Africa, Italy, Turkey, Norway and Korea. They are English teachers, engineers, students, employees or businessmen. Several are married to Koreans or now call Korea home.”

They’re also doing very well these days, We currently have a very good team and right now we rank 1st in the first division of the Ulsan League, having won the 2nd division title last year.”

When asked about special memories from past Cups, Philip said, “Every Cup has had special moments. The first cup was a massive hurdle, as we were swimming in untested waters, however, the highlight has to be the Won Shot Wanderers winning the trophy for the first time in 2012. Keeping the trophy in Ulsan was never going to be easy, but finally we did it, and we have a serious chance of defending it this year.”

2012-05-27 17.37.27

2012 Ulsan Cup Champions – the Won Shot Wanderers FC

Defending the cup may not be quite so easy, though. Philip added, “No team has ever won the championship twice, let alone defended the title.” Past winners are: Busan United in 2008, Seoul Celtic in 2009, Jeonju Unathletic in 2010, Daegu Devils in 2011, and Ulsan Won Shot Wanderers in 2012.

150459_10101097545028442_373154850_n

If you’re looking to get involved, “Anybody can be a Won Shot player or supporter. Members join and leave expat teams frequently, so we welcome new faces anytime. Join the Facebook group, and come to Samsan Futsal pitch from 8-10pm Tuesdays, or the Taehwa Simnidaebat pitch C from 9-11am Thursdays for training. You don’t have to be one of the best players to be a member of our club; we win together and we lose together. There is always room for good people, as there is always so much to do.  We also have youth teams of Rising Stars hosting a tournament for junior expats.” 

So, if you’re in town this weekend, Philip says, “Come and enjoy the tournament. It is a really family friendly atmosphere, and food and drinks will be provided by Cima Bar.”

2012-05-27 12.45.36

The Ulsan Cup takes place from 9-5 this Friday and Saturday at the Taehwa Simnidaebat pitches (Riverside 800 Taehwa-dong, Jung-gu, Ulsan – pinned on the Interactive Map, under Sports). The pitches are along the north bank of the river, between “Bulgogi Street” and the cycling/walking path.

The schedule for the Friday Preliminaries is listed below. Saturdays schedule will, of course, depend upon who wins what. However, a full 2 days of games are promised to everyone, as there will be a  “Plate Challenge” and a “Wooden Spoon” phase for the teams knocked out of the running for the Cup.

Schedule for Friday’s Preliminaries

09:00~
Pitch A: Galma FC vs. Malaysian SFC
Pitch B: FCFC vs. Busan United
Pitch C: Won Shot WFC vs. Inter Busan

10:00~
Pitch A: Inter Suwon vs. FC Daegu
Pitch B: Storndang Villa vs. GwangSun IFC
Pitch C: Seoul St. Patrick’s vs.Jeonju United

11:00~
Pitch A: Seoul British vs. Gwangju Inter
Pitch B: Malaysian SFC vs. Jejuventus
Pitch C: Galma FC vs. Daegu Devils

12:00 Welcoming Ceremony

12:40~
Pitch A: FC Daegu vs. GwangSun IFC
Pitch B: Daegu Devils vs. Jejuventus
Pitch C: Inter Suwon vs. Storndang Villa

1:40~
Pitch A: Gwangju Inter vs. FCFC
Pitch B: Inter Busan vs. Jeonju United
Pitch C: Busan United vs. Seoul British

2:40~
Pitch A: Won Shot WFC vs. Seoul St. Patrick’s
Pitch B: GwangSun IFC vs. Inter Suwon
Pitch C: Jejuventus vs. Galma FC

3:40~
Pitch A: Gwangju Inter vs. Busan Unite
Pitch B: Seoul British vs. FCFC
Pitch C: FC Daegu vs. Storndang Villa

4:40~
Pitch A: Inter Busan vs. Seoul St. Patrick’s
Pitch B: Jeonju United vs. Won Shot WFC
Pitch C: Daegu Devils vs. Malaysian SFC

UlsanOnline.com would like to wish the Ulsan teams, FCFC and the defending champion Won Shot Wanderers, good luck in the tournament. Here’s hoping the Cup stays in Ulsan!

Rock and Row Dragon Boat Festival

By , May 1, 2013 6:29 pm


This past weekend many of you may have been involved in the T-Hope Whale Boat Race at the Ulsan Whale Festival. This event was held as a fundraiser for the T-Hope Women’s Shelter Project, which I wrote about in this article. Over 12 million won was raised through team registration, as well as hotdog and beer sales. The event was a lot of fun, with teams in costume (the pirates and the Where’s Whaley crews deserve a mention here), face paint and matching shirts. Some teams were serious competitors, racing hard and fast to the end, while others had some steering issues, wobbling about their lanes, or in the case of at least one team, heading the wrong way downstream. One team even ended up going for an impromptu swim in the Taehwa when their boat capsized (thankfully no one was hurt).

whales 6

Photo by Trevor Dykeman

Well, now it’s time to do it all again. On May 17th-18th, T-Hope is organizing a second paddling race. This two day event, named the Rock and Row Dragon Boat Festival will also be a fundraiser for the Women’s Shelter Project, and will take place on Buddha’s Birthday long weekend. The T-HOPE Dragon Boat Festival is completely different from the Whale Boat Race. It is run and operated by T-HOPE, unlike the Whale Boat Race, which was organized by the Namgu Committee. Each team will have their own tent for the durartion of the Festival, and negotiations are currently underway for participants to be able to sleep overnight in their tents.

The races will start both Friday and Saturday at 10am. Friday, the race will finish by 4pm, Saturday by 3pm. Friday will be the qualifiers, with each team guaranteed three races. Saturday will be the semi- and final races.

They will again be offering hot dogs and beer for sale at 1,000 won each, and DJ’s will be playing from noon ’til midnight, both days. And it won’t be just about paddling; there will be games and a treasure hunt, with prizes to be won. The Ulsan Jazz Festival will be taking place in the Bamboo Park, just across the walking bridge, and there’s also the Ulsan Cup soccer tournament taking place on the riverside that weekend.

If you’re from out of town, buses may be supplied, if there are enough participants, so talk it up in your area!

You need 16-20 participants per team (1 drummer, 1 steersperson, up to 14-18 paddlers). T-Hope needs your support for this event, and for the Women’s Shelter Project.

For more information and registration please visit www.thopeasia.org

whales 5

On your marks… Photo by Trevor Dykeman

Whale boat 2013

Photo by Long Duy Tran, from the T-Hope Facebook page

Photo by Trevor Dykeman
Not off to a great start… Photo by Trevor Dykeman

T-HOPE Fundraising for a Great Cause

By , April 2, 2013 6:01 pm


Last Friday, I had a chance to sit down with Dan Gauthier, a founder of the group T-HOPE (Teachers Helping Other People Everywhere), to talk about some of their ongoing and upcoming projects.

As you may be aware, T-HOPE has been running a volunteer program with the Ulsan Orphanage since 2006; one Sunday each month, teachers (and others) head out to the orphanage in Eonyang to play games, do crafts, and otherwise have fun with the kids. The orphanage is well supported, financially, by the government and private donations, so T-HOPE has focused more on English-language interaction for the kids, and, more imporantly, on having fun. Each year, they throw a huge Christmas Party, too.

A lot of the fundraising done by the group goes to the Dong Gu Welfare Center, which supports 25 families in need. Most of these families are the children of divorced parents who live with their grandparents, and need help with life’s basic necessities; food, clothes, school supplies, etc. Many of the clothing donations Dan collects are taken to this Center.

They’ve also recently started a volunteer program with the Lotus Center for Autistic Children in Ulsan, which I will be writing an article on in the near future, and will be starting programs with mute and deaf children, and blind children.  All of these programs will be looking for volunteers to work with the kids once a month, and we’ll soon have information available on how to get involved.

But what I really wanted to talk to Dan about this time is his large scale fundraising project that is currently underway.

Through his work on the Community Leaders Committee in Ulsan, Dan has become familiar with the domestic violence issues facing women in Korea. There is a particular need for help for the women who immigrate here from South East Asia or China to marry Korean men, especially those in poorer, rural areas. Dan has heard many stories of abuse and death, where the women have had no family of their own in Korea to turn to for help. These stories are rarely covered in the national media. “We have to do something,” says Dan.

So this year, T-HOPE is undertaking fundraising for a Women’s Shelter. “As you know,” Dan explains, “Domestic violence is an issue faced by many people all over the world. So what we’re hoping to do is provide a shelter for these women and their children.”

The T-HOPE Women’s Shelter will provide protection, housing, food, basic necessities, and assistance and counselling to the women. The shelter will be built with private rooms, kitchens and bathrooms, and with indoor and outdoor play areas for the children. As Dan says, “Who’s affected most is the kids. That’s my focus, it’s on the children.”

The goal is to provide a safe environment so the mothers can get the help they need. “If we can help the mother, then she can focus on her kids.”

The shelter will be completed in three phases. First, they’ll need to acquire the land in the Ulsan area to build the shelter. The location will not be widely known, in order to ensure the women’s safety. The police have agreed to provide security for the property. Only the police and members of local community groups who assist abused women will know it’s exact whereabouts. Dan’s brother in Canada works with abusive husbands, and has given Dan a lot of advice on what is needed to help protect the women and keep them and their children safe.

Once the land is acquired, the shelter will be architecturally designed and planned, and then finally, it will be built and opened for use. It’s currently scheduled to be open and ready for operation in 2014.

This may seem like a huge undertaking, but Dan and T-HOPE are not afraid of the challenge. There are a number of fundraising events planned in the near future, as well as sponsorship deals being worked out.

The first of these fundraisers will be the Whale Boat Race at the Ulsan Whale Festival, held at the Taehwa River Park in late April. Dan is hoping to recruit 50 teams of paddlers to participate in the day-long event, Saturday, April 27th. Last year, spots went quickly, so if you’re not yet involved, contact Dan right away. This year, there are three categories to compete in: Men’s, Women’s and Mixed. Each team will paddle in at least 3 races, with the top times moving forward to the semi and final races. This is probably the biggest foreign-community event in Ulsan each year. Check out their website, T-HOPE Asia, for more information, or to sign up.

Due to the past popularity of the Whale Boat Race, this year, T-HOPE is introducing the Rock & Row Dragon Boat Race, over the Buddha Birthday long weekend in May (17th-19th). One hundred teams of participants from all over Korea will be gathering together for a fun filled day beside the Taehwa. They’ve already recruited several teams from the US Military bases, and are planning for 2000 participants to decend on Ulsan. Stay tuned for more information on this event, and how you can get involved.

The funds raised at these two events, through sponsors, team registration, food and beverage purchases, and event merchandise will all go towards the T-HOPE Women’s Shelter project.

There are more fundraisers in the works for future dates, also. UlsanOnline has joined with T-HOPE as an official partner, and will be bringing all the information on these projects, which include a beach volleyball tournament (end of June), a 2nd Poker Run bar-hopping event, and a rugby tournament, among others. So watch our front page for banner ads and articles, or visit the T-HOPE site.  You can also email fundshelter@thopeasia.org for more information, or to help organize an event.

News Bytes – 1/17/2012

By , January 17, 2013 5:41 pm


Some newsworthy items from around Korea this week:

  • Last year, it was suspected that North Korea was behind the cyber attacks on South Korean newspapers. This week, Korea’s National Police Agency confirms it. Earlier this week, CNN reported on South Korea’s efforts to combat such cyber warfare with a team of hackers.  However, late breaking news today from Seoul is that the “transition team” of incoming president Park Geun Hye, reversed that announcement. They told reporters to simply

    run antivirus programs and change passwords more often.

    That should keep the commies at bay. Presumably, the new president wants to keep things nice and easy between the two countries and not anger the north with the findings.

  •  After a couple of attempts last year at getting into the space age, South Korea is ready to try again. Sometimes between January 30 and February 8, Korea will once again try to get something into orbit.  Last year two failed attempts (no launch) followed two previous failures with disastrous launches.  Here’s hoping Korea finally gets into the limited club of nations in space.  North Korea made the list with a surprise launch in December 2012.
  • Flu season, which has hit hard in the USA this year, is expected to hit Japan and South Korea shortly.
  • No more beatings and no more sexual abuse. At least for athletes in Korea.  The government is cracking down on abusive coaches after the learning that physical abuse is rampant.  30% of athletes said they’d been beaten by their coaches. 9.5% said they weer sexually abused. 47% of parents knew their children had been hit but refused to say anything. And 23% of athletes believed that physical abuse was a necessary motivating tool.  And you thought it was all fun and games!
  • And finally, my new hero in Korean society is actress Kim JeongNan. She is instituting a program to improve the bad driving in Korea.

News Bits – 12/7/2012

By , December 7, 2012 8:50 am


A few interesting tidbits from around Korea:

  • South Korea says it’s going to stop killing whales for research. For years, the country has conducted whale hunts ostensibly for research, killing the whales so they could be studied, but then selling the meat to the many whale restaurants in Ulsan. While some might think that this is the end of killing whales, think again – the Korean fisherman still employ a method called “by catch” where by whales can still be harvested if they are “accidentally” caught in fishing nets.  My money is on no slowdown in whale harvests – there’s a lot of whale restaurant owners in Jangsaengpo and Samsandong  that will be mad as hell if they can’t get the main meat their shop is named for.
  • Sports and Politics don’t mix. That’s what the International Olympic committee must now decide. Park Jang Woo, who was denied his medal in the 2012 Olypmics for displaying a Dokdo flavored poster after Korea beat Japan in football is going to go on trial. Formerly denied the ceremony, now they will decide if he is denied the medal. FIFA has banned the player for two matches for his political display.
  • Korean nuclear authorities have uncovered still more faked quality and safety certified parts for nuclear reactors. This is the third batch of faked papers. This time, however, authorities say the parts or for ancillary devices not directly tied to nuclear processing.
  • Already dealing with a problem of Internet Addiction in Korea (see here and here), the country is now faced with yet another human psychological disorder – Digital Addiction. No longer just internet specific, this is about technology everywhere. Kids don’t take their teddy bears to bed any longer – they snuggle with their smart phone until they go to sleep and then fondle it some more the moment they wake. It’s an Obsessive-Compulsive disorder in which

    “I get nervous when the battery falls below 20 percent,” …. “I find it stressful to stay out of the wireless hotspot zone for too long.”…”Kids forgot to eat lunch, completely absorbed with smartphones and some stayed in the classroom during a PE class”.

    I predict more deaths from this – watching/playing with a phone when one should have been watching traffic, whether driving or walking.  I’ve seen a number of drivers with phone/pad on the wheel and several pedestrians nearly clipped by cars because they aren’t watching.

    And, in case you can’t get enough of your own digital devices, check this out:

  • Today, December 7, the iPhone5 arrives in South Korea.  If you haven’t already gotten one on reserve, you might be waiting. Folllowing closely behind, the iPad Mini will arrive next week.
  • If you missed it. Korea’s fourth attempt to launch a rocket last week fizzled out. Two failed launches and two failed attempted launches have left Korea as one of the few technologically advanced nations that can’t seem to get out of the atmosphere. The next launch attempt is scheduled for next year.
  • Corruption in South Korea rises. Although the Korean Herald, apparently ashamed of their country’s stature, have chosen to misrepresent the data by manipulating the headline. Apparently, the news site understands that most people won’t read the story and simply skim the headlines.. Their headline states that “S. Korea’s corruption index falls” but what that means is that the country fell from 43rd place to 45th place with Denmark and Finland and New Zealand being the least corrupt countries. Go Kiwis!

Rising Star Football Academy

By , December 1, 2012 3:57 pm


Most of our readers are familiar with the hagwon system, if not working directly for one. The demand for English instruction is pervasive, and even extends to soccer teams. Rising Star Football Academy combines English instruction with soccer practice to develop an immersive environment for their students. The Academy partners with the Won Shot Wonders foreigner football team to provide English-language soccer instruction to Korean and non-Korean children. Coach James McAloon explains that their mission is to allow non-elite children access to the level of competitive soccer typically reserved for elite in Korea. But what I found to be the most interesting part of my visit was learning how Rising Star works to provide rehabilitation for children recovering from leukemia.
The most obvious challenge the children face in their post-recovery rehabilitation is physical. Following their treatment, the children’s bodies are severely weakened. Chemotherapy, bone marrow transplants, and even the loss of organs have wreaked their damage to the children’s bodies. Some children currently playing with Rising Star are missing a kidney or a lung. They all have different stories, different combinations of chemo and operations. But the end consequence is the same, their bodies are weaker than their peers, who have been able to run and play and develop their physical fitness in the way that these children have not. Soccer lets them build physical endurance, strengthening their muscles, bones, and cardiovascular systems.
In addition to their physical recovery, the children need some psychological rehabilitation as well. As one of the parents explained to me, the children have spent so much time dealing with the disease and their course of treatment that they have been isolated from other children. Their experiences differ widely from what other children have experienced. They haven’t had the opportunities to play, to build confidence, and to develop the interpersonal skills that other children their age have had. Football, being an emphatically team-based sport, helps the children develop their social skills and re-integrate into “normal” society.
Approximately 10 children in Rising Star are recovering leukemia patients. These children play and receive free instruction, and, as I’ve witnessed, can put up quite a fight on the pitch for their peers. Childhood leukemia is tragic. Even those who survive can suffer from long term health complications, and the disease can rob them of their childhoods. Rising Star Football Academy reaches out to these children, and gives them an opportunity to just be kids again.