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Everything You Need to Know About Ulsan

Seongnam Dong: The Dong that just won’t go down

Ulsan has been receiving a much needed face lift, unfortunately those in charge still have a blemish or two to deal with. Years ago the city tried to “revamp” a lot of the older neighborhoods by putting canopies over top of the alleyways and lighting them up like a dying disco. Unfortunately, this didn’t do much to imrpove the overall interest and it was business as usual.

These days, places like Samsan Dong and Mugeo Dong are shaping up to be something quite nice and I am excited to see what they look like once they are finished. However, poor Seongnam Dong is left with its disco canopy rusting in the Cheong-ma rains. What is the attraction to a place that looks like aging 70’s rocker still trying to be hip? There are many!

For most expats, Benchwarmers, the Royal Anchor, Starbucks, the theaters and a few other places are the main draw to this area. Most check in and then check out with out really looking around at the charm and even the potential of this place. I must admit that even I have my blinders on when I go down there. So, over the past few weeks I have been wandering the alleys and side streets to find out why so many middle school students and young couples flock here rather than the cleaner, more popular dongs.

For the most part, it is prices that draw in most of the kids. Samsan Dong has hordes of high end places, expensive shops and restaurants. The people on the streets reflect that image. You walk around old downtown and you start to see the value and the charm. There may not be a Luis Vitton or some of the other high end brands of handbag that costs thousands of dollars, but I am sure you can find something you like for around 10,000 won, which will probably look the same, minus a few spelling errors.

The shops in old downtown cater to the middle class and thus you can have a good time without breaking the bank. Trust me, there are tons of things to do in Seongnam Dong. First on my list is the fact that there are TWO movie theaters! I know that it is a little on the illogical side because both play the same movies, but where else in Ulsan can we find that luxury? The second are the unique restaurants, just check out some of the cool restaurants here and there are many more yet to be reviewed.

There are also tons of places to have fun. Top on my list is screen shooting. For about 3000 won you get the feeling of shooting a real gun, without that nasty gunpowder smell and the chance of death. Next, is the arcade just down the street, in-between the main walking area and that weird night club area that I have rarely visit. They have air hockey and a number of other games to kill a few hours playing. If you look on the second floor of a number of buildings you’ll notice that many of them are actually DVD rooms. I know that you know about the reputation DVD rooms have, but trust me they are also fun with your pants on! Big screen TVs and great sound systems. All of these places are extremely cheap

Shinae also has decent shopping for pretty much anything that you need. Newcore Outlet supplies a lot of the designer or mainstream brands, while a lot of the sportswear shops like Nike, Adias, Converse, etc., are also well represented. However, if you are on the frugal side most of the other shops carry discount fashions for reasonable prices. Fashion News is always a great place for cheap clothes. Sometimes the fashions are a little strange but who cares when you are not paying a fortune for them. Hats, accessories, jewelry, gifts, anything can be found in Shinae at a reasonable cost.

I know that Seongnam dong is not the cleanest place, in fact just tonight I saw a crazy old man take a leak all over himself while waving frantically at me saying “Hello!!”. Minutes later two Homeless men started fighting in front of the stage by Yu-gan-nae. I also know that most days you will no doubt bump into your students giggling and screeching at you and if you don’t teach they will probably giggle and screech anyway. However, this place has charm and a lot of hidden treasures! The labyrinth of alleyways and businesses stacked to sky make this place an adventure. Hopefully, it will attract more businesses and the unsavory parts will get a much needed cleaning. With the Exordium almost finished, I hope that day is not too far off.