Ulsan: hometown to actress Kim Tae-hee; but where is it?
As part of hellokpop Cultural Series, we will be exploring and presenting featured stories on different places and cities of South Korea to our readers! In this mini series featuring Ulsan, our staff, Rachel, will be bringing and showing you of a simple overview of Ulsan, and what’s up life at there.
So Ulsan, what this city is exactly about?
Ulsan (울산), one of the 6 metropolitan cities and the largest metropolitan city (land-wise) of South Korea, is also the hometown to celebrities Kim Tae-hee, Lee Wan, Oh Yoon-ah, Seo In-guk and several others. This city is not very well known to foreigners, even to people who live in the northern regions of South Korea are not too familiar with the city called Ulsan. Geographically, it is a little above Busan, which most readers are probably more familiar of.
It takes about an hour to get from Ulsan to Busan by car. If people did hear of this city before, it’s usually because of the Pear Festivals or of large factories and companies like S-Oil and Hyundai, as they both set up their largest plants right in Ulsan. According to Visit Korea, “Hyundai Motor’s main production facility, the Ulsan Plant is comprised of five independent plant facilities on a land spanning 5,000,000 square meters.”
Take a look at the map below to find out the geographical distance between Ulsan and Busan:
If you’ve watched the MBC weekend drama series May Queen, the story is set exactly right in Ulsan. The air is considerately clean and fresh, compared to Seoul. Of course, if you live near the factories, it probably won’t be as clear as most areas.
Taking you into the city of Ulsan, this is where I live now. I happen to live a town called Guyeong-ri, which has been developed not too long ago, so it’s a rather small town and accessible to any part of the town within minutes. If you’re looking to visit a tranquil site while in Korea, I would recommend here.
It’s also a very typical environment for where young Koreans would like to hang out. It’s a street full of beauty shops, accessory stores, sticker photo booths, cinemas, shopping centers and many delicious restaurants.
The place we get to hang out is outside of the new town, it’s in Sungnam-dong (성남동) in Jung-gu (중구) of Ulsan. The first store we checked out is a store full of celebrity merchandise and little accessories that fans would want of their favorite bands or groups such as name tags, calendars, photobooks, phone accessories, etc. There are fuzzy socks, earmuffs and scarfs for the winter season along with hair accessories and many more.
During the end of fall and beginning of winter season, one of the warmest street foods I would recommend everyone visiting to try the Fish Bread(붕어빵: boong-uh-bbang). (But this is not made out of fish!) It doesn’t smell or taste anything like a fish, it’s just shaped like a goldfish.
You may have seen these in dramas or variety programs as celebrities occasionally eat this during the cold weather. The outer layer is made like how bread is, and is usually stuffed with sumptuous red beans, and for those who don’t like red beans, there’s an option for custard cream on certain carts too!
For eateries, there are many restaurants, bakeries and ice cream stores along on this street that are cheap and delicious, but we go for the cheap way out and to introduce you to something you may have heard of, Paris Baguette bakery.
This bakery is widely available, even when I was staying in California, U.S., you could see this bakery franchised in areas with a big Korean community. Paris Baguette is very common all throughout Korea. There are a variety of bread to choose from and with other menus like shaved ice (팥빙수: paht-bing-soo) which is usually for the summer season.
There are also drinks like coffee and fruit-flavored drinks and sandwiches to select from. This is also where a lot of the pretty cakes come from where you see in Korean dramas. Usually, when the bakery is bigger, there are seats for you to take a break and eat in, but if the store is smaller, there may not be a place for you to sit.
Also, there’s something you can’t miss when you’re out with your friends – sticker photos! There are usually separate stores with multiple photo booths for these. One session was probably about 6,000won (~$5.50 USD) with many different templates and of various size options. The store also gives you choices of what kind of coating you want for the photos which they will usually do for free. You can cut them up and divide them among your friends.
One of the popular activities in Korea is karaoke (노래방: no-rae-bang), literally means song-room. It’s a place where families, friends or co-workers can gather to have fun by singing songs, whether you can sing or not, well if not, a really good place to have some really fun time of laughter and teasing. For students, the cost is always slightly cheaper and for adults, you get to pay more. If you can sing loud and sound like you’re having great fun, the owner or front desk person may even give you bonus time (called service/서비스)!
That’s all for now but this is definitely not all about it. We will be taking you deeper into Ulsan in our next featured story as we explore more about this city! Stay tuned to hellokpop!
But before that….
Okay, I can’t help but I have to show everyone this! You may have seen this in some of the celebrities dorm life series like 2NE1’TV, it’s a toothbrush holder. You can stick it to the mirror of your bathroom. There are various animals available but my favorite animal happens to be the cow ^^! Mooo~