Ulsan Pro Basketball: Mobis Phoebus

Last week at this time, we were enjoying some Korean professional basketball. Yes, it’s once again taken me much too long to get this together for the blog, but I think technology just hates me right now. Too many devices I must use to capture pictures and video, then prepare them and then post them. Or, to put it simply, in the words of my mother, too much technology!

Back to my advertised content. The pro basketball team based in Ulsan is sponsored/owned by Hyundai Mobis, and as we have learned, most professional sports teams here are actually named (at least in part) for the company that sponsors them. Ulsan’s team is called the Mobis Phoebus, Phoebus being a word for sun, or “sun god”. Google comes in handy these days!

When we walked into the stadium, we were handed these red shiny posters which had creases in them, intended to help with folding it up like an accordion. I had no idea what the purpose of this would be until we walked into a stadium of loud and excited Koreans, all slapping their red paper accordions to make almost a clapping noise. It was much less painful than clapping for two hours straight, and much more effective at making loud noise!

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When we arrived to the game, we had a great view from our third row seats that only cost us the equivalent of $13! At first, the impression we got was that Koreans are very audible sports fans, and this continued throughout the game. There was always a buzz of noise going on and the crowd is very involved with not only the game but the little side-shows and games that are scattered in between periods and during timeouts. Some of these were very reminiscent of Asian game shows – you know those wild ones with ridiculous games and challenges, while others required viewing the awkwardness that is Korean cheerleaders/dancers. I keep saying that the girls in the K-pop music videos here look like they are about 12 years old… not that I can really talk… but there is something disturbing about watching what appears to be a young teenager strut around in lingerie in those videos, or in uber-short shorts as witnessed here:

We had seen a brochure at the compound advertising this unique experience, and noticed that there was, to keep it PC, a “non-Korean” on the team. We found out later that there are at least two Americans on the Ulsan team and two on the other team from a city called Wonju. When I first mentioned the basketball game to J, he laughingly replied that maybe we’d run into a guy he sat next to on one of his flights over here who said he was playing pro basketball here in Korea. Sure enough, the guy is one of the Americans playing for Ulsan Mobis Phoebus! We got to see him in action, dunking on the court:

Since we were sitting very close to the floor, the guy caught a glimpse of us and after the game came up to tell us he was shocked to see such young people there. It sounded like he didn’t have a big social network of young expats to support him here. Sadly I don’t think he recognized J either, but all our friends were jokingly elbowing J to go chat it up with our newfound celebrity friend so we could get him to hang out with us! Doesn’t this look like a group you want to be friends with?

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The gang post-game.

Even with all the hubbub, the game only lasted about two hours, much shorter than the sports events we’re used to in the U.S. We worked up an appetite with all our heavy cheering, and there was a particular Thai restaurant we were all wanting to try. So we headed to a place called Sarojin in Ulsan’s old downtown district. Get this – it’s a spa, wedding planning service, coffee shop AND restaurant all in one! A couple of the ladies are getting up the courage to go back for a thai massage, but I for one still can’t decide if I want the crap beat out of me. Supposedly it’s worth feeling like Jell-O later on, but I’m still not sold.

Yummy pad thai from Sarojin.

Anyway, the pad thai was excellent, but I preferred the cashew chicken. This is a familiar story from when we went out for Thai in Seoul with Kayla and Jake. I’ll remember this for next time.

Hopefully this week I won’t be such a slacker with posting some things about life in Korea. I’m gearing up for a visit from a very special friend all the way from America, as well as a fun long weekend trip to a nearby tropical destination. Ciao for now, adventures await!

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