Written by Stephen Schelling
Photos courtesy of PyeongChang 2018
The 2018 Olympic Winter and Paralympic Winter Games will be held in Pyeongchang (평창), Gangwon Province this upcoming February and March, respectively. For the 51 million people living in Korea, most can get there within a relatively short time by bus, car, or train, which makes this an excellent opportunity for those living on the peninsula to attend such an extraordinary international event.
Simply having a bus ticket won’t get you in, though. What do you need to know beforehand? Here is some helpful information for those who want to attend.
The 2018 Winter Games begin on February 9 and continue until February 25 while the Paralympic Winter Games begin March 9 and end on March 18. It is Korea’s second time to host Olympic Games (the 1988 Summer Games were in Seoul), but it will be the country’s first Winter Games. Most of the games will take place in Pyeongchang, located near the northeast coast of Korea, in over a dozen different venues, the majority of which will take place at the Alpensia Sports Park. All of the ice events will take place in nearby Gangneung (강릉) at the Gangneung Olympic Park. In the longrun, the city of Pyeongchang hopes to become a hub for winter sports enthusiasts in Asia after the 2018 Games have finished.
This year’s Winter Games will have over 100 events in seven different sports, such as cross-country skiing, ice hockey, and the luge. Seven different sports are split among 15 disciplines, so there will be many variations of the same primary sport, such as the six forms of skiing. The Paralympic Games have 80 events in five different sports, including alpine skiing, snowboarding, and wheelchair curling.
Tickets have been on sale for well over a year for both the Paralympic Games and the Winter Games. The best way to purchase remaining tickets is to go to the official PyeongChang 2018 website (link provided at the end of this article). The site is available in a variety of languages including English, Korean, and French. There is a plethora of information provided on the site, but it’s pretty easy to navigate. Some of the essential information is in the Spectator Guide section, which offers information on ticketing, transportation, accommodations, schedule of events, further details on the venues and sports, and even information for extending travel and touring throughout Korea.
Once you have reviewed the ticket information, you will have to set up a user account to purchase tickets. Tickets can be searched by sport, location, and date, and the price options are three-tiered: A, B, and C, with A being the most expensive and C being the least. Prices can vary dramatically depending on the sport and the date, with highly desirable sports and medal games costing several hundred or even over 1,000 USD.
PyeongChang 2018 also offers a unique service called Fan-to-Fan, which is a ticket re-selling program between fans. Attendees can also purchase available tickets in person at the venue ticket box office during the Games. For those living in or traveling to Seoul beforehand, tickets can also be bought at Incheon Airport, Gimpo Airport, or at Seoul City Hall. Tickets can also be purchased at 19 KTX stations throughout Korea, including the Gwangju-Songjeong Station. Keep in mind that the only forms of payment accepted are either by Visa card or direct bank transfer.
A recent Bloomberg article reported that only 30 percent of the tickets to the Games had been purchased as of November. A majority of the tickets have been foreign purchases, while domestic sales in Korea have lagged considerably. Regardless of the contributing factors possibly responsible for this lukewarm reception to purchasing tickets for the Winter Games, it means that a lot of tickets are still available, with many events costing as little as 20 USD. With the affordability and ease of transport to and in-and-around the Winter Games, it would be unfortunate if more people didn’t take hold of this unique opportunity. It is a rare way to personally support world-class athletes, proudly declare one’s patriotism, and foster unity in the global community.
Official 2018 Olympic Winter and Paralympic Winter Games website:
Official PyeongChang 2018 Tickets website:
Stephen Schelling is a writer and teacher, a pickler, and an Eagle Scout from America with a B.A. in journalism from Marshall University.