The 2024 Dodgers are less than two weeks away from opening starting spring training.
The team is starting early because the Dodgers are starting the 2024 season in Seoul, South Korea where they will play a two-game series against the San Diego Padres, where each team will play once as the home team.
Normally, this sort of thing is exactly what I travel to as the site’s de facto Traveling Correspondent. In fact, for most of last year, the plan was for me to go to South Korea. But then, I lost my day job, then I had to move back to the Central Valley, and finally, my dad took a turn for the worse and passed. (Rest in power, Dad.)
Naturally, something had to give, and dreams of cosplaying M.A.S.H. went out the door — at least for now. To add insult to non-existent injury, MLB gave up on trying to schedule a regular-season series in Paris in 2025 for want of a sponsor. I adored Paris and would easily spend a week lounging in Paris, covering Dodger baseball and reliving my halcyon adventure days — preferably without the pneumonia I caught in 2016, but that story is one for another day.
But as the date of the Seoul Series got closer, my natural curiosity kicked in and I got to wondering, as I have a gift for logistics, what would it take to get to Seoul for these games.
How I would go
Now, if you do not already have a valid U.S. Passport, you can skip right to the end of this essay because the turnaround time for that document is a minimum of six months.
If one does have a passport, then read on.
The next thing I would need is to secure a roundtrip flight. I would expect to spend $1,500 round trip assuming that I was flying from a major city like San Francisco or Los Angeles. For purposes of this hypothetical, let us assume that any would-be traveler would be flying out of San Francisco International as that airport is two hours away from me on any given day.
But another major concern logistically is how much time one would need to fly to and acclimate to the time change. We are not discussing a flight that one just can just do the night before on a redeye, do the games, and fly back immediately after. With that fact in mind, since the games are on March 20 and 21, I would fly out on Saturday, March 16, and return on Friday, March 23.
South Korea is seventeen hours ahead of California time, so buffer time and hydration are essential. I speak from experience going from California time to Cambodian time (sixteen hours) in one fell swoop without preparation drove me a bit mad for a few days upon arrival.
With these facts in mind, several nonstop flights fit the above parameters. With long-haul flights, you get what you pay for. I would personally pay extra for a nonstop route and probably upgrade to business class or at least premium economy if able.
I have flown from San Francisco to Cambodia (by way of Taipei) in coach. Nothing really prepares you for sixteen hours of flying, but it can be done comfortably and affordably, especially if one uses an aggregator like Kayak.
The United States Dollar is quite strong against the South Korean Won so obtaining lodging should be less expensive than the flight. Just a quick check on hotels.com shows a wide gamut of options ranging from hostels costing virtually nothing, even for a week, or high-end luxury options rivaling what you would find in the United States.
As you can see, the stadium is by a subway stop and not near many hotel options. The indicated mark on the screenshot is the subway stop. So all anyone would have to do is find a hotel on the number 1 line, which is served by the subway stop.
Based on the above, numerous hotel options are near the subway line and are quite affordable. Finding a hotel would be the easy part of attending the Seoul Series, and the currency exchange would leave me feeling comfortable about spending money.
Gocheok Sky Dome has a maximum capacity of 16,744 for a baseball game, which is borderline shocking for a major league game. I had a joke cued up citing the size of Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, but the home of the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate only has a regular maximum capacity of 9,000.
Prices just came out, and all things considered, they are not bad, with the major assumption that one is able to buy one.
Also, prices are out.— Jeeho Yoo (@Jeeho_1) January 25, 2024
Wheelchair accessible seats are cheapest at 50,000 KRW each ($37.45)
Table seats on Level 1: 700,000 KRW (approx. $525)
Level 2: 600,000 KRW
Infield reserved seats: 180,000KRW ~ 500,000KRW
Outfield reserved seats: 120,000KRW~200,000KRW
And if I was tossing shade at Oklahoma City for having a stadium that barely has three times the capacity of my hometown’s football field (Claud Herbert Field of Dinuba, CA), I suppose it would go here. The Double-A affiliate of Tulsa has a comparable capacity stadium.
The digression as to Gocheok Sky Dome’s maximum capacity is to relay my shock as to how tiny the venue is for a city of almost ten million. I suppose in my head I was expecting a venue at least comparable to the Tokyo Dome’s 55,000 maximum capacity.
But I could not recommend going to Seoul for this series for the likely difficulty in obtaining tickets as documented below.
IMPORTANT UPDATE on tickets for #MLB 2024 season opener between #Dodgers & #Padres in Seoul:— Jeeho Yoo (@Jeeho_1) January 16, 2024
1. Tickets ONLY available on Coupang Play website to Coupang Wow (paid subscription) members
2. No plans for Coupang to open separate ticketing site for foreign residents
If accurate, one needs to be able to navigate a Korean-language website with a paid subscription to get tickets to such a limited-size venue. It seems unlikely that MLB would not provide an alternate method for foreigners to buy tickets to the Seoul Series but it might be far easier to watch the Seoul Series from the friendly confines of home.
As if to illustrate my point, tickets for Game 1 went on sale on January 27 and sold out within minutes. Dear Baseball — pick a bigger venue next time!
If this essay prompts interest in what kit I use to travel, I am more than happy to share that information at a later date.
What if you wanted to meet up with other Dodger fans though? I might have a solution for that question.
The proposed True Blue LA fan meetup
Long-time commenter Urbino created a FanPost to try and corral discussion about TBLAers meeting up in Phoenix. I would heartily encourage such an endeavor. Unfortunately, I have a work-related conference that I have scheduled that mandates my attendance and attention.
That said, I do plan to finalize my 2024 itinerary soon if anyone cares to meet Adric and me while we are on the road.