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—  Metropolitan City  —
Ulsan Metropolitan City
 - Hangul 울산광역시
 - Hanja 蔚山廣域市
 - Revised Romanization Ulsan-gwangyeoksi
 - McCune-Reischauer Ulsan-kwangyŏksi
From top left: Lotte Department Store in Ulsan, 10-Ri Daebad Bridge, Iaan Exodium skyscrapers on Taewha River, Sinbok Rotary, Big Crown Stadium, and SK Energy's oil refinery


Emblem of Ulsan
Map of South Korea with Ulsan highlighted
Country  South Korea
Region Yeongnam
Districts 4
 - Mayor Bak Maeng-woo
 - Total 1,056.4 km2 (407.9 sq mi)
Population (2008)
 - Total 1,126,879
 - Density 1,030/km2 (2,667.7/sq mi)
 - Dialect Gyeongsang
Flower Pear flower
Tree Ginkgo
Bird White heron
Website (English)

Ulsan, officially the Ulsan Metropolitan City, is South Korea's seventh largest metropolis with a population of over 1.1 million. It is located in the south-east of the country, neighboring Busan to the south and facing the East Sea between Korea and Japan.

Ulsan is the industrial powerhouse of South Korea, forming the heart of the Ulsan Industrial District, which is home to the world's largest automobile assembly plant operated by Hyundai Motor,[1] the world's largest shipyard operated by Hyundai Heavy Industries[2] and the world's largest oil refinery owned by SK Energy.[3] In 2008, Ulsan had a GDP per capita of $63,817, the highest by far in South Korea.[4] It would have been the world's third wealthiest economy if ranked, being richer than Norway, Singapore, United States, Hong Kong and Switzerland.[5]

The city hosts the K-League football club Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i (Ulsan Hyundai Tigers), who, after the 2002 FIFA World Cup, relocated from their former stadium in Jung-gu, which is now a municipal ground, to the Munsu Stadium, which hosted several matches during the 2002 World Cup. Ulsan is home to another soccer team, Ulsan Hyundai Mipo Dockyard, which plays in the Korea National League. It is also home to the University of Ulsan.


Administrative divisions

Ulsan is divided into 4 gu (districts) and 1 gun (county).

Map Name Hangul Hanja

Ulsan BlankMap.png

Gu (Districts)
Buk-gu 북구
Dong-gu 동구
Jung-gu 중구
Nam-gu 남구
Gun (County)
Ulju-gun 울주군


A view of the Iaan Exodium twin skyscrapers on Taewha River.

As the center of the Ulsan Industrial District, the city is the corporate base of the multinational Hyundai conglomerate. Up to 1962, Ulsan operated as a fishing port and market centre. As part of South Korea's first five-year economic plan, Ulsan became an open port. Additionally, major industrial plants and factories were developed, including in particular an oil refinery, fertiliser plants, automobile production and heavy industries. The shipbuilding port Bangeojin became part of the city in 1962.

Ulsan is currently the home of the world's largest automobile assembly plant operated by Hyundai Motor,[6] the world's largest shipyard operated by Hyundai Heavy Industries[7] and the world's largest oil refinery owned by SK Energy.[8]


The city transport department plans to build a light-rail line and the public transportation system is as good as any other major Korean city. The bus system shows a particular ETA at most bus stops.[9] Ulsan Airport, constructed in 1970 and expanded in 1997, has more than 20 flights per day to and from Seoul's Gimpo International Airport and 4 flights per week to and from Jeju International Airport.


Ulsan has a humid subtropical climate. Ulsan's average rainfall (based on an average of the last 30 years) is 1274mm.[10] The average annual temperature is 13.8°C[11], while the maximum and minimum temperatures are 38.6°C and -16.7°C respectively.

Sister cities

Independent cities in South Korea

See also


External links

Coordinates: 35°33′N 129°19′E / 35.55°N 129.317°E / 35.55; 129.317


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Ulsan is a city in South Gyeongsang and the capital of the Ulsan Metropolitan District. With a population of 1.2 million it is close to Busan, Gyeongju, Daegu and Pohang. The city is known for its whaling heritage and more recently as the industrial heart of the country. The airport code is USN.

Ulsan is not frequented by tourists but has a sizable foreign population - a mixture of engineers, migrant workers and English teachers.

A view out over Buk-Gu.
A view out over Buk-Gu.

Ulsan includes 4 wards ("Gu") and 1 county ("Gun").

Buk-gu (북구; 北區)

The most northern the four Gu and rapidly developing due to the lack of pollution in the area.

Dong-gu (동구; 東區)

The location of Bangeojin, Hyundai and a large amount of the city's ship building industry (including the largest ship-yard in the world).

Jung-gu (중구; 中區)

Nam-gu (남구; 南區)

Ulju-gun (울주군; 蔚州郡)

Ulsan is a seaside metropolitan city in the southeast of Korea. It is 70km north of Busan.

Those who come to Ulsan are predominantly here to work for the large conglomerates or heavy industries (Hyundai Motors being one of the most notable) and to teach English as a foreign language.

It is considered the industrial centre of the country with some guidebooks likening the city to Pittsburgh or Detroit in the USA. There is much truth in this view. Yet recently re-elected Mayor, Park-Maeng-woo, plans to establish an ‘Eco-polis’ based on the restoration of the Taewha river. In 2010 it will host World Environmental Day which should crown Ulsan's rebirth as an environmentally-friendly ecological city.

There are a small number of appealing districts. Samsandong, home of the Lotte and Hyundai department stores, can be considered the up-market district. Western fashion brands are available along with a number of western chain restaurants. The neon lit back streets yield a vibrant bar and restaurant culture. The Lotte Ferris wheel is also in this area next to the Lotte Cinema.

Old down-town, Seongnamdong, is good for shopping at low, local prices (there are brand goods shops too however). It is the location of a small number of foreigner friendly/foreigner run bars.

Mugeodong, the home of Ulsan University, is the best place for the young, twenty-something’s wishing to eat, drink and party.

There are twelve touristic 'scenic sights' to see in and around city that range from the natural to man-made. However none are world class or notable sites within Korea itself.

Ilsan beach offers the most accessible sand and sea in the area but is somewhat polluted and run down. Nearby Ilsan beach is Daewangam (Great King Rock) and Ulgi Lighthouse.

Jinha beach, south of the city, offers good swimming, an annual wind surfing competition, and a historic Japanese fortress.

Jujeon and Jeongja beaches, north of the city are covered in Black Pebbles. It's a great place to enjoy raw fish and steamed crab. Two popular local delicacies.

Gangelgot, a lighthouse south of the city, is known for being the first place the sun rises in Korea, drawing large crowds on New Years Morning.

Ulsan Grand Park, located near Gonguptap rotary, was built in two stages for the people of Ulsan by SK corporation. It is a huge park with many recreation activities, including bicycle and rollerblade rentals. It's a great place to go for a stroll.

Although Ulsan is a city of 1.2 million, there is no metro system. There is an extensive bus network, but it takes time to negotiate the city streets on these buses.

Ulsan today lives in a catch-22 situation: In some districts it is impossible to escape the industries. Although these industrial sites are breath-taking in scope, a testament to the achievement of man, they blight the landscape. On the other hand, the investment from these industries undeniably makes the city an better place to be.

Though people living there don’t wish to admit it, there is something likable about Ulsan. Perhaps it’s the industrial grit and grime, though this is doubtful. It might be the constant surprises, of beauty and happiness that peek out between this grit and grime that make it not such a bad place to be after all.

Ulsan was a World Cup 2002 host city.


Ulsan, not even a smudge in world history prior to 1972, has seen remarkable change and development in the decades following. The history of the city prior to this date is very unremarkable and decidedly average. Though its industrial and ship building roots go back many hundreds of years there was nothing particularly special about it – no technological, societal or cultural firsts.

It found itself in a strategic location between the Korean peninsular and Japan with good natural harbours. Things were made here and sent elsewhere. They still are.

Ulsan's history has also long been associated with whales. Whaling goes back thousands of years and at nearby Bangudae there are petroglyphs that suggest hunting as long ago as 8,000 years.

Hunting did not begin in large numbers until the early 1900s when Russian fishermen arrived in the area. Under Japanese occupation it continued.

After the end of World War Two, whales became a valuable source of food in a time of scarcity and hunger. Hunting continued until the International Whaling Commission introduced measures to stop it in 1986.

Other events include Ulsan being the location of a major battle between warrior monks attempting to relive beleaguered citizen armies in the area fighting Japanese invasions (1592). Records dating from 1642 show the first seeds from which the city’s history became intertwined with shipbuilding. The Joseon dynasty ordered the first shipping complex to be built.

During World War Two the area was a major industrial site for the Japanese thats infrastructure survived the war relatively intact. The following Korean War saw it avoid destruction too thanks to its position inside the Busan perimeter during the darkest days of the conflict.

Searching locations for its modernization drive following the conclusion of fighting Ulsan was selected as one of the four possible sites for industrial development of the country by the Korean government. The current president of the time came from the Ulsan area, as did many other high-ranking bureaucrats.

Thus with the help of several billion dollars worth of tax incentives and large low interest loans the location suddenly became very favourable for business start-up.

And so came Hyundai. In 1972 it built the largest shipyard in the world followed closely by the largest automobile production facility. Today much of what we see in Ulsan has been built by the Hyundai Heavy Industries by receive government contracts or selling the equipment needed for such projects.

Other companies came (petro-chemical services) turning the city into the industrial capital of the country. In the future this is what its history will be remembered for.

When to visit

When considering a touristic visit to the area then the best months tend to be from March through May before it gets too hot. Summer serves up a heavy sweat-inducing humidity along with prolonged rain showers mixed with the occasional typhoon. It remains warm until late October (cited by many to be the best month) at which point the weather turns cold. But it is not uncommon even in December to have warm spells with temperatures plummeting at night. Ulsan sees little snow due to its southerly position on the Korean peninsular and polluted atmosphere - however that is not to say that snow can not fall. When it does fall, it can be heavy.

Inconveniently located but modern airport.
Inconveniently located but modern airport.

As Ulsan receives no international flights it is only possible to arrive in the city via the air from two destinations - Seoul (Gimpo) and Jeju-do.

Getting to Ulsan from Incheon Int’l Airport requires a transfer upon landing to Gimpo Airport. It is best to do this via the limousine bus service, which departs from in front of the main terminal at Incheon Int'l Airport every five minutes. The journey then takes about thirty five minutes. The fare is W6,000. Be sure to listen to the announcements on the bus as it will inform you of which terminal you need for your onward flight.

Domestic airplane from Gimpo (operated by Korean Air and Asiana) takes about one hour. Weekday fares start at W62,000 rising to W71,000 at weekends.

Ulsan Airport is in Songjeong-dong, Buk-gu, on the north side of the city. It was first opened in November 1970 with a regular service between Ulsan and Seoul being established. Yet this was suspended in 1973 with the field closing in 1974. In 1984, the regular line was opened again. Asiana Airlines assumed control of the Ulsan~Seoul service in March 1992, and engea Airlines the Ulsan~Jeju line on February 1993. Asiana Airlines started to serve Ulsan~Jeju line on March 1993.In December 1997 the passenger terminal was extended with a capacity of 2,300,000 passengers per year.

There is parking for up to 534 vehicles.

The passenger terminal in Ulsan is clean, modern and functional. There are a number of facilities and amenities that an airport of its size should offer. Available food outlets sell the usual fare of Korean food. There is a coffee bar and newsagents selling books. They also sell the English dailies ‘The Korean Times’ and ‘The Korean Herald’. Other services include a chemist, smoking room and of course, car rental.

The tourist information booth on the ground floor is a must before leaving the airport for great maps of the city and many leaflets on things to do. There is literature on Gyeonju also.

Check-in and arrivals are on the ground floor. Go upstairs for security and departures.

Those wanting to get to and from Gyeonju usually pass through Ulsan airport too. A direct bus service to Gyeongju runs 4 times a day. Departures from Ulsan Airport are at 8:20 11:40 16:10 18:40. Departures from Gyeongju Express Bus Terminal, Platform No.5 are at: 7:00, 10:10, 14:30,17:20.

Gimpo Limousine Bus: 032-741-0114 Korean Airlines: 1588-2001 Asiana: 1588-800

By train

Ulsan has rail links with the rest of the country and it is possible to get to the city without too much trouble or waiting.

As previously mentioned, there is no KTX service. Coming south from Seoul it is best to take the KTX to Dongdaegu and transfer to a regular train service from there.

Alternatively ride the KTX all the way to Busan and then come north on a train or bus.

Taking the slower and cheaper trains are also an option. From Seoul Station, the Saemaeul service departs twice a day taking five hours thirty minutes costing 36,900won. The Mugunghwa service leaves once a day and takes six hours for 24,900won.

The station is situated a brisk twenty minutes walk from the centre of Samsandong following the main road straight ahead after going outside. Look for the iconic Lotte ferris wheel. Walking from the Lotte Ferris Wheel is truly a brisk walk! Taxis provide a better mode of transportation to the Ulsan Station, and gives you the advantage of not carrying your backpack or luggage along the sidewalks.

The fastest way to get to Ulsan by rail then, is using the KTX and then transferring.


Service One Seoul 07:15AM – Dongdaegu 09:02AM Dongdaegu 09:15AM – Ulsan 11:28AM Travel Time: 4 Hours 13 Min

Service Two Seoul 09:00AM – Dongdaegu 10:36AM Dongdaegu 11:01AM – Ulsan 12:49AM Travel Time: 3 Hours 49 Min

Service Three Seoul 11:40AM – Dongdaegu 13:16PM Dongdaegu 13:55PM – Ulsan 15:51PM Travel Time: 4 Hours 11 Min

Service Four Seoul 15:00PM – Dongdaegu 16:46PM Dongdaegu 17:00 – Ulsan 18:54PM Travel Time: 3 Hours 54 Min

Service Five 17:15PM – Dongdaegu 18:51PM Dongdaegu 19:10 – Ulsan 21:03PM Travel Time: 3 Hours 48 Min

Service Six Seoul 19:00PM – Dongdaegu 20:41PM Dongdaegu 21:01 – Ulsan 22:50PM Travel Time: 3 Hours 50 Min

Getting to Ulsan by car is simple enough as Korea is relatively small and has a network of well developed roads. Be aware that the traffic lights take a long time to change. Patience is advised.

From Seoul, Daejeon and Daegu, the fastest road that connects Seoul and Ulsan is the Gyeonbu Expressway. Take the Gyeongbu Expressway from Seoul to Busan and exit at Eonyang junction to reach Ulsan.

From Gwangju, take the Namhae Expressway toward Busan and exit at Wonyang junction to reach Ulsan.

From Chuncheon, take the Jungang Expressway toward Daegu. Then take the Gyeonbu Expressway toward Busan at the Geumho junction. Exit at Eonyang junction to reach Ulsan.

From Eumseong and Cheongju take the Jungbu Expressway toward Daejeon and then take the Gyeongbu Expressway at the Nami junction. Exit at the Eonyang junction to reach Ulsan.

By bus

Ulsan is well served by intercity buses and it is possible to get to the city from any other major (and not so major) location in the country. The city terminals are located a brief walk across the street from each other in Samsandong with a smaller terminal in Bangeojin. It is also possible to jump off these buses at the major neighborhoods or intersections on the way into the city (Gongeotap and Shinbok rotaries being a notable two).

Journey time from Seoul (Gangnam) to Ulsan is five to six hours depending on conditions and costs around 26,000won for a one way ticket.

By boat

There are no ferry services in Ulsan though some people do arrive via work on boats that make port at the shipyards. The nearest international ferry services for the general public are in Busan where they arrive from a whole host of places including China and Japan. It is very rare that anyone would actually want to come to Ulsan for the first time using these services. Many English teachers make use of the ferries in Busan for the E-2 visa run to Fukuoka in Japan.

Get around

Ulsan has an extensive public bus network with plans in place to build Light Rapid Transit system in the future.

If staying in the city for any length of time then buying the transportation discount card makes economic sense. It will entitle the holder to a 100won discount on all fares and a free transfer between bus services if made within the hour. Upon exiting the first bus be sure to place the card over the box with an X and O to initiate the free transfer.

The cards can be bought and refilled at the vendor shacks located next to any major bus stop in the city. Depending on design it should cost no more than 5,000won. This does not include any credit which must be paid for in addition. One great feature is that it can be used on other city transport networks across the country.

By bus

Getting around the city by bus is a lengthy and time consuming process. The white express bus services alleviate this somewhat but are less frequent on the routes.

The regular yellow city buses cost a flat 1,100won regardless of your journey’s destination. This makes long distance bus travel economical, but for short trips not so much.

Buses run until about 11:30PM in the evening after this they start again early in the morning. Perhaps around 5AM in some areas.

The smaller blue buses only circuit the immediate local area many times a day. These cost 600won or more.

Step onto the bus at the front with exact change if possible. Drivers do give change but nothing more than a few hundred Won. To exit the bus press one of the red buttons for a stop and step off at the back.

The city government has recently invested in a number of electronic timetable boards which are being rolled out at all notable and/or busy stops. This makes finding out the arrival time of the next bus extremely convenient.

By taxi

Foreigners use taxi’s in the city frequently and almost always without problem. They’re relatively cheap to use especially if the cost is shared among others which can make it cheaper than using the bus. Once the bus stops running at night they are the only way to get from place to place over long distances.

The minimum fare begins at 2,200won for the first two kilometres and increases by 100won for every 144 metres thereafter. Taking a taxi between 12 midnight and 4 a.m. will mean an increase of 20% on the minimum fare. 2460 being the new minimum, rising at 120won thereafter.

After 4 a.m. passes the minimum fare immediately returns to 1,800. If your driver places it on the higher fare question this action or ask them to stop and get straight out. 4 a.m. and beyond means 1,800won.

Be aware if the driver touches the meter at any point during the journey. There is only a need to touch it twice, once when the journey starts and once when it is over – that is unless your journey starts shortly before midnight and continues past in which case they may press a button to start increasing the fare by 20%.

Calling for a taxi should cost an extra 1,000won but it is not often noticed on top of the total fare.

Speak clearly and slowly to the driver as many have problems understanding a foreigner speaking Korean, no matter how good your skills are.

Be also aware that if you should be involved as a passenger in a taxi in an accident with another vehicle, you may be held responsible for costs incurred - if the driver was not taking you to where you wanted to go - the accident would not have happened. - It HAS happened in the past, and even the Police have been called if there is concern that the cost of damages is so high that it could be considered the passenger may not be able to pay immediately!

By scooter

Scooters are also a viable alternative for foreigners. They’re cheap to buy, cheap to insure and cheap to tax.

A helmet must be worn at all times.

All riders will need a licence and the ease of obtaining it depends on your nationality. Some nationalities just have to file the paperwork while others have to pass a practical test.

Driving a scooter in Ulsan is dangerous and foreigners do get in accidents. Watch for other vehicles changing lanes without giving any indication beforehand. On the other hand having a scooter allows for much greater freedom to roam, especially to the beautiful outer areas of the metropolitan area.

By train

If you’re in some of the outlying areas and live close to a station then it becomes a viable form of transport into the city. For example, Hogye and Hyomun have stations in the north. To the south lie Deokha, Onyang and Seosaeng stations.

Tickets will be cheaper than a taxi but slightly more expensive than the bus. However you’ll be into the centre within a few minutes making it well worth that extra couple of hundred won. Check your local station ticket office for arrival and departure times as schedules change depending on season of travel.

By Light Rapid Transit

A Light Rapid Transit (LRT) will be built in the city over the coming years similar to that found in some European cities. The first of the lines will run through Mugeodong, Munsu Stadium, Gonguptap, Samsandong to Ulsan Station then turning north to Hyomun Station. There have been demands from the residents of Buk-Gu for it to extend as far north at Hogye. There are designs to eventually connect the ship yards at Bangeojin to the network.

Construction work has yet to begin and is not to be completed before 2012. The project is to cost at least 1.4 billion dollars.


The primary language of Ulsan is Korean. English is not common especially among the older generations and many younger Koreans are shy about using their language skills. They'll often nod and say yes without really having understood a question - which can lead to problems when asking for directions. The Korean phrasebook should provide some useful words and expressions.


If you are lucky, you might be able to see whale. It's probability is around 45%.


Rock climbing

popular on Munsu Mountain, the tallest in the city. Over 100 sport routes are available from 5.8 up to 5.13


hiking in the numerous mountains around the city is very popular, especially among the Koreans. Just about any wooded area will be flush with hiking trails.

The city has a fabulous river park with walking, running and biking trails. Flowers are plentiful and make for pleasant journeys along the river.


Numerous sites in Ulsan boast primitive rock carvings or petroglyphs which detail the areas rich heritage from the Bronze age.


You can learn how to make onggi(Korean traditional china). But you might need translator



The 24th floor of the Lotte Hotel has an Italian restaurant with great views and fantastic food. 2 people without wine will run about 100 000 won, if you order 3 courses. There is a good wine menu with inexpensive options.

  • Lotte Hotel is currently the most luxrious place to stay.

Stay safe

Ulsan is a relatively safe city. Police vehicles are apparent as you travel through the city, but living in any large city, it is better to be safe, as the crime rate is not zero percent. When you leave your domicile, lock your doors and windows. Many times apartments have aluminum bars on any windows that are accessable to the public.

The apartments have a "security system" that allows the occupant to see who is at the door. When a visitor comes calling, they ring the door bell, which activates the security camera and the occupant's security system shows who is at the door from the safety of inside the residence. A handset is usually provided or an intercom button where you can answer the door without actually opening the door to a potential stranger.


Official English-Language Website for Foreigners in Ulsan [1] Best way to cope is to read up on what goes on in Ulsan and share with other foreigners.

Get out

There are many other cities nearby that are cool to check out for a weekend tour

  • Busan (부산, 釜山) is an hour away by bus from Samsandong. Korea's second city, there's something for everyone there.
  • Gyeongju (경주, 慶州) Ancient capital of the Silla Dynasty a short bus or train ride north. Home of Bulguksa Temple and Seokguram Grotto. It's an open-air museum and not to be missed.
  • Daegu (대구, 大邱) Large city with it's own unique sights to see.
  • Pohang (포항, 浦項) Industrial grit and grim, but a marvelous beach, compact and eminently walkable downtown make this an alternative weekend break.
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