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Seoul 1988


The City of Seoul, which wanted to develop its sporting infrastructure and, in particular, possess a stadium capable of staging major sports events such as the Asian Games, initiated plans to create a large-scale sporting complex from the early 1970s. This was to be located approximately 13 kilometres away from the city centre, on the southern bank of the Han River. Covering a total surface area of 59 hectares, it was named the Seoul Sports Complex (Today also called the Jamsil Sports Complex.). Between 1972 and 1984, a baseball stadium, two gyms, a covered swimming pool and a 100,000-capacity stadium were constructed.

In 1981, Seoul’s Candidature File for the 1988 Summer Games referred to a plan to build a second stadium, also with a capacity for 100,000 spectators. This one was due to form part of a national sports complex, planned together with the Korean Government and located approximately three kilometres west of the Seoul Sports Complex. Once the Games were awarded to Seoul in 1981, the project changed and ultimately this stadium was not built. The Seoul Sports Complex stadium therefore became the main stadium for the Games. To this end, it underwent improvement works, including an overhaul of the public address system.



The curved, pared-down form of the stadium was inspired by the shape of a Joseon Dynasty porcelain vase, creating an impression of lightness. Eighty pillars of differing heights emerge from the rim of the steel and concrete structure and extend horizontally across the roof that encircles the entire stadium, covering two-thirds of the seats.

The void created by curved steel and concrete was powerful in its physical poetry, and the open structure allowed for a dynamic mixture of airflow, lighting and shadow, adding to the creation of intense sensory and spatial experiences. EunSook Kwon Professor at the University of Houston’s Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design, reflecting on her visit to the Olympic Stadium in Seoul in January 2008 ahead of the Design Olympiad due to be held that same year.

There are three levels under the stands, as well as an area below ground level. The stands are arranged in two circular tiers, which can be evacuated in 15 minutes.


The curved structure does not just serve an aesthetic purpose; it also helps to support the weight of the roof. In order to brighten up the Seoul Sports Complex and the area around the stadium, 185,700 trees and bushes were planted in the early 1980s.



Before the Olympic Games, the stadium was used for the 1986 Asian Games, which had been awarded to Seoul two months after it had been selected to host the Olympic Summer Games 1988.

Since the Games, the stadium has hosted major cultural events such as concerts, operas and festivals, as well as the Seoul Design Olympiad in 2008 and 2009. It has also staged sports events such as the finish of the Seoul International Marathon. In 2010, it was put forward as one of the proposed host venues in the Republic of Korea’s bid to stage the 2022 football World Cup. In 2013, it hosted a number of matches in the East Asian Cup. Seoul E-Land Football Club, founded in 2014, play their home matches at the Olympic Stadium.

Since 2008, the Seoul Metropolitan Government has been working to redevelop the zone around the Sports Complex and the districts located to the east, with a view to transforming the area into a business and convention-centre hub. While the project does envisage knocking down and relocating some of the sports facilities at the Complex – part of which will still be dedicated to sport, leisure and culture – the Olympic Stadium will be kept, in line with the original vision, and upgraded. The redevelopment work is due to begin in 2019.

IOC / STRAHM, Jean-Jacques


- Even before the start of the Games, the Olympic Stadium proved to be a tourist attraction, with 301,924 foreign visitors in 1987.
- Former Organising Committee President Park Seh-jik has described how the stadium faced a race against time the night before the Opening Ceremony. Thousands of cards due to be used in card stunts by the crowd during the show were delivered that evening – one week late. It was physically impossible for the 30 available staff members to place all of them on every seat before the Opening Ceremony the following morning. Ultimately, 300 students were recruited at the last minute and worked until 6 a.m. to ensure that everything was ready.


- “An overview of the preparations for the Games of the XXIV Olympiad”, Seoul Olympic News, Newsletter of the Seoul Olympic Organizing Committee, SLOOC, vol. 1, no. 3, June 1984, p. 1.
- “Candidate venues for 2022 World Cup announced”, news, website of the Korea Football Association, 8 March 2010.
- “EAFF East Asian Cup 2013 & EAFF Women’s East Asian Cup 2013”, website of the East Asian Football Federation.
- Eunha Koh, “South Korea and the Asian Games: The First Step to the World”, Sport in Society, vol. 8, no. 3, September 2005, p. 469.
- EunSook Kwon, “The Creation of Seoul Scent, Invisible Beauty”, Designing with smell: practices, techniques and challenges, chapitre 10, Victoria Henshaw et al. [ed.], New York, Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2018., n. p.
- Hee-sung Kim, “Seoul Design Olympiad wrap-up”, website, 4 November 2009.
- “Le stade olympique”, The Seoul Olympian, SLOOC, 2 September 1988, p. 62.
- “Photos of Today - Seoul International Marathon”, website of the Seoul Metropolitan Government, 22 March 2018.
- Rapport officiel: Jeux de la XXIVème Olympiade Séoul 1988, Seoul, SOOC, 1989, vol. 1, pp. 70, 83, 159, 162, 164, 166, 172, 311, 324.
- Responses to questionnaires for the Games of the XXIV Olympiad - Prepared by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, February 1981, Chapter E: Questionnaire for Candidate Cities applying for the Olympic Games, f. E-6.
- Seh-Jik Park, The Seoul Olympics, The inside story, Bellew Publishing, London, 1991, pp. 48-50.
- Seoul 1988, A guide to the XXIVth Olympiad, SLOOC, n. d., p. 47.
- “Seoul E-Land”, website of the K League.
- “Seoul International Complex”, website of the Seoul Metropolitan Government.
- Seoul: the capital city of Korea for XXIV Olympiad 1988 - La capitale de la Corée pour XXIVe Olympiade 1988, Seoul Olympic Preparation Committee, n. d., p. 32.
- “Stadium draw”, Olympic Update, SLOOC/Burson-Marsteller, vol. 2, no. 2, March-April 1988, pp. 7-8.

Name: Also called Jamsil Olympic Stadium
Location: 25 Olympic-ro, Jamsil 2(i)-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea
Status: Built with a view to having a sports complex capable of hosting major international events. In use today.
Designer: Swoo-geun Kim (Space Group)
Cost: 78.7 billion won
Capacity: 100,000 spectators
Dimensions: 280m long and 245m wide
Additional information: 47m high, circumference of 830m
Construction: 28 November 1977 to 29 September 1984
Official opening: 29 September 1984
Events during the Games: Athletics (including the start and finish of the two marathons and the 20km and 50km race walks); equestrian individual jumping (not including the eventing); football tournament matches, including the final and the bronze-medal match.
Opening and Closing Ceremonies.

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