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Updated 4 months ago

A modern city, Seoul has all the sports activities you might find elsewhere in the world - with the caveat that Korean society is particularly attached to and preoccupied with physical appearance. 

Without making generalised statements, it must be said that the cult of beauty in Seoul is palpable. It is not uncommon to see illustrations exhorting you to watch your diet and to exercise regularly, even the stairs at Mapo Subway Station count down the number of calories you are burning! With this in mind, it is hardly surprising that many Seoulites take great care of their appearance and regularly exercise.

Outdoor sports in Seoul

Seoul has pedestrianised embankments along the Han River that runs through the city, which makes it the perfect place for walking, running or even cycling. Some parks have bike rental services, such as Banpo or Yeouido.

You will also find ‘gym equipment’ for fitness and weight training (in particular bench presses and dumbbells), in a good working state and free of charge, in almost all parks in Seoul.

One of the Seoulites’ favourite pastimes is hiking in the parks and mountains of the city and its surrounding areas. Accessible to all levels, hiking trails are numerous, and you can expect to enjoy beautiful landscapes throughout the year and especially in autumn.

 Warning:

While outdoor physical activities have the advantage of being free of charge, they are also impacted by the quality of the air, with pollution worsening in Seoul. Unfortunately, it has become common to see the level of pollution reach numbers too high to consider any outdoor activity (wearing masks is more than recommended for every journey).

Club sports & activities in Seoul

A modern and well-developed city, Seoul offers every sport you can imagine, from dancing, boxing, tennis and volleyball to yoga, etc. The only difficulty is finding these activities and successfully registering. Most clubs have signs outside their storefront or are illustrated with posters, meaning you can easily identify them by simply walking around. Word of mouth is another common way to hear about clubs, and don’t forget the resource of expat Facebook groups.

Moving to South Korea is an opportunity to discover a little more about the culture of the country itself through the practice of traditional sports. For example, Taekwondo and its ancestor Taekkyun (still practised, although less popular than Taekwondo, it is a mix between Taekwondo and dance-like choreography) and Ssireum, another sport, feature strongly.

Gyms in Seoul

To exercise without suffering from the vagaries of outdoor pollution, many Koreans turn to a gym subscription. You will find these in most neighbourhoods, offering a variety of different services: some will be open seven days a week, others 24-hours a day, some may also be specialised in fitness and some in Crossfit. It is advisable to visit the various facilities most convenient to you to compare offers and rates (Expect to pay, on average, between 50,000 won and 100,000 won per month depending on the options available).

 Good to know:

If you are an expat student you will be able to enjoy the university gym on your campus free of charge (this is certainly the case for MBA students at Sogang University, for example).

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.