Skip to main content Skip to navigation
Washington State University
College of Education

Sport Management

A track athlete’s perspective of Korean olympic stadium

By WSU track athlete Indigo Williams

Today, the sport management group and I got to travel to the 1988 World Olympic Stadium. When we arrived to the stadium we were able to walk around and look at what an Olympic stadium really entailed both inside and outside. This athletics facility grabbed my attention in so many different ways that at first I was over whelmed with joy but then with a little bit of disappointment.

I personally was amazed at how big the venue was, but actually very shocked by how run down the outside looked. When looking at the pictures and statues of some of the best athletes in the world, I found myself asking one question, “why does this place look like no one cares for it?” After talking with the group we were then told that this facility does not get money from the government to help with the upkeep. One would think that this facility and the people who run it would want to show pride in the athletes who brought their country fame. I think that it is sad that these athletes’ pictures are in such bad shape and some even vandalized. I guess maybe I was just thinking that these athletes should be portrayed in more of a way that shows respect and lets younger generations know who they are and what they did. As for the inside of the stadium, now that was a little bit different, the grass was well kept and even the seating looked new. I mean I even ran a lap around the track and admired what it felt like to be running on the same track as an Olympian.

After hanging around on the track and taking some photos, the group and I went over to “The Hope Factory” which is the 1988 interactive exhibition about the Olympic values. Here we were able to go through about forty different exercises that taught us about the Olympics. This was a great experience, and I really did learn more about the prejudices and simple stereotypes that are associated with the Olympics. Some of the questions that we were asked I never really thought about before, like when they asked if “by being in a wheel chair made one of the Olympians disabled?” To me I see that person not as being a disable athlete but a contestant in the Olympics. In this factory there are many different hands on activities that linked all back to one common thing, the Olympics. Our group got the privilege to ride in a 4D simulator while watching Kim Yu-Na, who is an Olympic medalist. From there we went down the museum that held all of the different artifacts and statues made of the different all time athletes in 1988. This room was filled with a piece of something from each event in Olympics it felt like. Though the main focus was on the 1988 Olympics, this building was only a small part of the Olympic history.

From The Hope Factory, we went to an amusement park called Lotte world. I feel like I have to tell you about our adventure here because I was able to go on one of the tallest free falling drops ever, well I mean it was only seventy meters high but it felt like the tallest and longest drop ever. This ride was awesome, you get on and as you are rising to the top you are doing a complete 360 degree rotation, getting what feels like a full view of Seoul. You are up there for about five seconds and then drop going about one hundred kilometers an hour. The best part about this ride was I got to gopro the entire thing. It was awesome.
All in all I got to experience being in an Olympic facility first hand and I only have one other goal, and that would be to go to a facility when there is actually a real life Olympics going on. But I am really happy that I got this opportunity and I cannot wait to share my next activity with you guys.

More From Korea

Gyeongbokgung Palace
Middle School Soccer Pitch

By Josh Tyler, sport management student who graduated in May

Today marks the first full week that I have been in South Korea, and holy cow this country is awesome. I have seen so many different things and experienced things unlike any other place in the world. I truly am lucky to be here, this country has shown me so many different perspectives of how people live their lives. Everything from food, leisure, transportation, sport, everything has a different way it can be done and I have only experienced a week of it and I am very excited for the 5 more weeks to come.

Throughout the first week I have experienced a lot of Korean culture. Dating back from historical times to modern day events. Something that really stuck out to me was the historic presence this country has within itself. For example, when we toured the Gyeongbokgung
Palace you could feel the history coming out of the place. From the palace itself, to the museum of all the historical clothing, food, weapons, everything was just incredible to see. I really appreciated how the country keeps the traditions alive in some parts of the country. For example, today we were able to experience a traditional martial arts show performed on a stage for people to enjoy what Taekwondo was and how it impacted the culture for Koreans. Another event was a traditional dinner where we sat down criss­cross and ate a traditional meal. That was quite the experience itself seeing how people really used to eat every meal. The food is a whole another part of Korea that has been an experience within itself. Although I was never a fan of fish or spicy foods, Korea (from what I have had thus far) has given me so much variety in picking something that can suit my liking! Oh ya don’t forget to master chopsticks, you might die if you don’t. I have grown to like the food and its different tastes, its quite good actually, also the portions are huge so you’ll never leave hungry. The culture is so much different than back home and that’s why I am really enjoying myself.

Something I loved seeing being a Sport Management student was how the sporting complexes varied from the US. The university we are staying at (Seoul National University of Science and Technology) is currently constructing a field to host soccer games and has a track around it assuming for the colleges soccer and track teams. It was completely different in my eyes from a US stadium because there was not much seating and a lot of like training rooms, locker rooms for the school. It was just different where in US the goal is to get people in seats, where as it felt they were just building the best facility for the athletes. It was just really cool to see. Also, there are parks everywhere in Seoul. Basketball courts, soccer pitches (some on rooftops of malls), kid parks, even some have work out equipment in the parks themselves. That was the first time I had ever seen work out equipment in a park, really cool because its different. People also ride bikes everywhere, the city of Seoul kind of reminded me of Portland in the sense everyone rides bikes. Seoul on the other hand has 10.4 million people in the city itself (World Population, 2014), where as Oregon barely has 3 million total people (Census Burrow, 2014). The city offers so many different things and it just really is incredible how much you can do. Another thing that is really close by is a driving range for golfers. It is across the entrance to our dorm buildings. It’s cool to see how close things are for the students to be able to access and use. As I continue to experience Korea I am going to be excited to see a lot of the differences that this country has to offer in sport.

For the first week here in Korea I think I have experienced so much I am shocked with all that I have experienced and the sheer amount of things that this country has to offer. I am really excited and eager to see what else I can learn about sport and how Korean culture is around it while I am here for five more weeks. I think it is going to be very different from the United States and I can’t wait to be able to share it. This first week has been a blast and I cannot wait for more to come. #GoCougs

Sport Management Students Arrive in Korea

Untitled Untitled2By Nick Frisk, sport management student (with intro from Chris Lebens, assistant clinical professor)

Well, we have arrived. Cougs are in Korea. I can attest that the pilot was amazing for 10 hours in the air. During the 30 min decent
Seoul, well… lets just say he landed safely so no complaints from the Cougs. For those that don’t know, I am Chris Lebens, J.D.
Assistant Professor in the college of education. Dr. Yong-Chae Rhee and myself are abroad with the WSU COE first study
abroad. We are
currently in Seoul and will travel every 2 weeks across the country to other universities. I cannot speak for all of our
students as to their
experience, so I have assigned them to tell us all about it. Today’s post comes from Nicholas (Nick) Frisk, a senior
in Sport Management at
WSU. Please, enjoy his story.


For those of you who don’t know that is hello in South Korean. It’s very surreal to be half way around the world experiencing a new culture, a new set of ideas and seeing a new place. Though the first week has been much of experiencing the culture of Korea the group has done a little bit of exploring for sport related land marks. Seoul Tech University is a rather small university in comparison to Washington State University but it still has a decent sized sport program. In one of our first classes we took a short field trip to their soccer stadium and sport complex. Luckily for us the stadium and the entire complex was under renovation just like the Washington State football and soccer complexes. We walked around the area watched the workers and looked at the differences of the new stadium. This is what we could take away from this experience.

The most prevalent thing that caught the group’s attention was how unsecured the entire construction area was. This speaks to the difference in cultural beliefs of how citizens are expected to act. The only thing holding people back from entering the construction zone was a small red and white caution tape (see below). As everyone who has explored the Martin Stadium renovations, or even a normal construction site in the United States, knows that at the very least a large fence is put in the way to keep people out. Korean people are raised to show respect to everything from the people they interact with to the places they go and what they do there. If United States construction companies tried to use this small strip of tape to hold out community members we would have so many more construction related injuries and lawsuits. Korean people know not to go into restricted areas therefore construction companies do not have to be so careful with how protected areas are.

Also while exploring the construction area we walked past a gentleman welding part of the stadium. Normally this would not be an oddity but we noticed that he did not have any eye protection on as he was watching the welding from a few inches away. From this one can deduce that there is not a strong emphasis on personal safety in Korean construction just yet.

As far as sport related oddities and/or similarities go, we noticed a few very obvious features. The complex is set up very similarly to a high school football field. The soccer pitch was in the middle of an Olympic sized track with a lifted  cement structure to become the stadium seating on one side. This is very similar to many multiuse facilities in the United States.

However two things struck us as odd at this particular track and soccer pitch. One of these was the lack of a throwing area for the track team. We speculated about where it might be or if it took place out on the soccer pitch but it is possible that we missed one option. Throwing may not be a big thing here in Korea like it is in the states. If there is one thing that is easy to notice about Korean people it is their body size. Not many Korean people are built large enough to compete against the Americas and European people in throwing events. It might not be an emphasized set of events at the national level therefore it may just be nonexistent at a relatively small university. The second thing we noticed was the soccer field was specifically painted for soccer. For being located in such a big multi-purpose area we kind of expected other lines to be painted on the field but that was not the case

We made a couple of other stops in the multipurpose area. Next to the track and soccer pitch there is a wide expanse of sand and dirt that had many different things to do. There were places to hit baseballs, take part in an unofficial soccer game, play some basketball and it even had a few tennis courts. Basketball is an interesting sport here because if there is an area of flat ground there is most likely a basketball hoop nearby. The group visited a mall the other day and just outside the mall there was a random court yard with a hoop that anyone could play a pick-up game on. Even the soccer pitch had fully functional courts at either end that anyone and everyone could access.

The last thing that really caught my attention was how easy it was to access this particular area. In a later visit to the area I was able to watch how many different people were using the facility after they removed the construction tape. They definitely were not all college students since. Young middle school and high school aged kids were playing basketball by the soccer pitch. Toddlers were playing with their parents near parallel bars. Even I was able to run on the track less than week after our original visit. The fact that a place like this was accessible to the entire community was an incredible concept to me. Very few places in the United States are accessible to the entire public so soon after construction for upgrades occur. We do not know how many official events take place there but with continuous use it would force a sport manager’s hand to keep the facility up to date more often. In the US we would rather spend money up front to keep people out of the facilities than to update them more often.

Our small little class field trip was our first experience with international sport facilities. In many ways it was not that much different from those of the United States yet the ideas surrounding its use can be very different. Soon we will be seeing large scale sporting venues that could potentially trump anything we have ever experienced, even back home. It only gets better from here, stay tuned.

In the months leading up to this trip I had to constantly explain to friends, family and even a Subway sandwiches worker we were going to Korea and why. The most common responses were why?, oh fun!, and North or South? Well thank goodness we ended up in SOUTH Korea because it has been an amazing experience thus far.

In the first week here we have seen so many different things that there is way too much to write about. When I get overwhelmed I like to think about food because food is good. Coincidentally South Korea has some of the best food I have ever had the pleasure of eating. There are three different types of food that must be discussed to really understand what a Korean travelers diet is all about. These are Korean barbeque, street food and dorm food. All are equally intriguing, mysterious and flat out delicious. So let us explore Korean food for a while.

Since it has been and will be our most frequently dining place it is only fair that we dive into the university’s dining hall food first. South Korea is not a place where picky eaters can visit and survive. I was one of those picky eaters coming into this trip and had to learn really quickly to just go for it. One of our students summed it well by saying the dining hall is the best place to eat because it forces you try different foods instead of being able to pick and choose what you want. So far the menu has dishes such as squid, kale, a curry type dish, anchovies, bean sprouts, tofu, rice, a lot of rice and even more soup. There have been maybe one or two different dishes that I have not thoroughly enjoyed while eating at the dining hall. Being forced to open your mind to taste different things is awesome because you have to lose all inhibitions and just dive in. I have discovered a liking for kale, radishes, small squid, beans sprouts and way too much more to list out. All in all, dorm food is awesome here.

While being forced to try new things is probably the best thing to happen to a picky eater, I do have to say it is nice to choose what you really want to eat. Seoul has a large number of outdoor markets unlike anything I have ever experienced in the United States. With these outdoor markets comes the novelty of street food. As a group we make an effort to find random little markets solely for the purpose of finding that next street food gem. My first experience was this massive ice cream tube. It cannot be called a cone because literally they have a cone tube that they filled from the inside out with some of the best ice cream I have had. It was in the shape of a candy cane yet, surprisingly, tasted so much better. Then while walking around the other night three of us stopped at a little chicken shish kabob stand. It started as a snack for one, and turned into all three of us buying the chicken and not being able to stop talking about it for the next ten minutes as we found a cab back home. Our single best meal so far though happened when we split up in this massive street market and just ate whatever we found. It started with corndogs laced with french fries on the outside and smothered in sauces. Then we felt bad so we picked up some fresh fruit and some other small snack I cannot remember. Before I can tell the next part though you must understand how much walking we did that day. We easily walked fifteen to twenty miles that day with very little time relaxing. So to congratulate ourselves we finished the night with a waffle cream ice sandwich. Before you ask not it is not ‘ice cream sandwich,’ it is cream ice. They start by making the waffles in front of you then spreading this thick creamy substance (mine was cherry flavored) across one half of the waffle and putting a scoop of vanilla and chocolate ice cream on the other side. They topped it off with some chocolate chips and then folded it over into a warm, creamy, delicious sandwich. It is and probably will be the best dessert I will ever eat in my entire life. The only regret I have is eating it in about 2 minutes and not going back for a second one. I’m sure many of our readers will have been to an exotic street market or something similar to what I am talking about here but you will never understand the excitement I feel eating this food. This is my first visit to a foreign country other than Canada, so experimenting with this food is amazing to me.

The last type of food I want to discuss is Korean barbeque. This is such an interesting concept for me because there is a large stone grill placed in the middle of the table. You order meat, Kim chi, a vegetable usually, some garlic and some sauces. Now some places have these large grills or woks on the table but they cook it for you. At the barbeque place we visited the people at the table had to cook it to individuals liking which is great because not everyone can do rare meat or even well done meat. In order to eat everything we were instructed to take a large piece of lettuce put everything inside and make a wrap out of it. The great thing about this type of food is that it is all freshly made on fresh vegetables. This stuff is so good and even somewhat healthy for you. This was close to being my favorite meal, but it is a close second to street food.

Communicating Korea

Tandem to stay in touch with those in the states

By C. Brandon Chapman
College of Education

They have a packed agenda. They plan to blog. They plan to vlog. They plan to podcast. They plan to tweet.

The only question now is when they plan to sleep.

With slightly less than two weeks before College of Education professors Yong Chae Rhee and Chris Lebens take a small group of sport management students to South Korea for a six-week study abroad, the duo has outlined some of their plans for communicating back to the states.

The two main highlights include:

  • Frequent updates here on the college’s blog, EduCoug. Rhee and Lebens will both write and embed video. They’ll be taking a GoPro Hero 3+ to visually document the trip, and they’ll embed videos in the blog. There’s an off chance Lebens may run a half or full marathon with the GoPro attached.
  • They’ll be tweeting like there’s no tomorrow. They’ll be using #CougsInKorea to join people together in common discussion.

Here’s a previous WSU News article that was written about the trip: