Ulsan City Guide
Another on of Korea’s modernized, growing cities, Ulsan was little more than a dot on the horizon a mere forty years ago. Now, it’s a modern centre with a population of more than a million, heaps of forward-thinking business and loads to offer both residents and visitors. Sure, it might only rank as Korea’s seventh biggest city, but that still makes it a substantial centre, with Ulsan owing much of its size to substantial connections with a Korean super-company, Hyundai.
If you’re here to visit, it’s worth noting that Ulsan suffers more than most cities from the excessive humidity and even typhoons of the summer months. Most of the attractions in Ulsan are outdoor ones. Not far from the city, you’ll find great opportunities for rock climbing, some really impressive hiking trails and even Bronze Age pictures and carvings etched into the rocks of the nearby mountains. Getting out into the hills is a major local pastime.
Examine those carvings carefully, and you’ll learn that Ulsan has a long history connecting the city to whaling, with historians telling us that whales have been hunted for as long as 8000 years in the area. Of course, this doesn’t happen anymore, but if you’re lucky you can still see whales splashing around off the coast, especially if you can convince a fisherman to take you for a ride out to sea. You can also join the abundant couples chilling on the black-stone beaches of Gangdong, where you’ll also find an impressive fish market and the old-fashioned Bongsudae smoke signals.
Strangely, Ulsan’s industrialized centre is also an attraction. The outline against a summer sunset is a strangely beautiful site, as is the football stadium, a great example of modern Korean architecture. Nearby you’ll find a selection of nice parks to pass the summer days and ample modern sporting facilities, though the best places to relax in Ulsan are arguably the assorted Buddhist temples, sedate despite several having extremely central locations.
It’s not Seoul, but Ulsan does do a great job of combining modernity with a nice touch of traditional, a lively lifestyle and a comfortable atmosphere. A great place to live, and a nice place to explore at the weekend should you just be dropping by, too.