For athletes and amateurs, many places to skateLast Sunday, Mokdong Ice Rink (02-643-3057) drew 2,000 people. It is winter vacation, and for people in western Seoul, Mokdong Ice Rink is an ideal family getaway spot. Prices are affordable. Admission is 2,500 won for elementary children; 3,000 won for middle- and high school students; 3,500 won for adults. Two-hour skate rentals are 3,000 won, with a 1,000 charge for each additional hour.
On a recent Monday, a dozen high school boys run laps outdoors. Their coach stands by the entrance of the building, watching over their bags and hockey sticks. When Mokdong Ice Rink opened in the winter of 1989, it was one of only a handful of rinks in Korea. With government backing, however, the rink became the coaching grounds for athletes, particularly short track and ice hockey. The skating portion of the annual National Winter Sports Competition is held here. Around the rink is stadium with seating for 5,000.
Nowadays, the rink offers adult lessons. Figure skating and short track classes for mothers are available at 6 and 11 a.m. Short track is the more popular choice.
Inside team flags for ice hockey teams -- Yonsei University, Korea University, Dreams, Winia -- hang from the ceiling. There's a small snack store that sells tteokbokki, hot and spicy rice cakes, ramen noodles, ice cream and canned drinks. The rink closes to the public at 6 p.m. Afterwards, it reopens for athletes training.
Lotte Ice Rink (02-411-2000) is the Walt Disney of ice rinks. The spot is perfect for anyone ?families, young adults, older couples. The weekends are always crowded with about 4,500 skaters carving up the ice. And with Lotte World and Lotte Department Store nearby, there's plenty to do when you feel like taking a break.
If athletes are the pride of other ice rinks, the public is the pride of Lotte Ice Rink. While this venue is open late at night for athletes in training, most of the time it's reserved for the public. Admission is 6,000 won for adults, and a three-hour skate rental is 3,500 won. Admission for elementary students is 5,000 won.
On Fridays, figure skaters put on a show from 4:25 p.m. to 4:35 p.m. Lotte World has a laser show at 9:30 p.m., visible from the rink.
For winter vacationers, the rink offers an unlimited package of lessons. Until Feb. 27, get all the lessons you need at either 8:30 or 9:30 a.m.
by Joe Yong-hee