Portland’s sister city: Ulsan, South Korea

For being more than 5,000 miles apart, the two cities have loads in common, including a love for roses and successful soccer teams, public transportation built on lightrails and bridges, and rich culture and history.

A night cityscape of Ulsan

Ulsan is home to passionate soccer fans and lots of bridges. Sound familiar?

Photo via Scott Rotzoll

Table of Contents

The sister city relationship between Portland and Ulsan Metropolitan City officially bloomed on November 20, 1987, built on common interests and the economic cooperation of Oregon and South Korea.

Let’s take a closer look at the pair’s ties and similarities.

A pagoda like structure in Ulsan, Korea

Modern traditions blend with 5,000+ years of history in Ulsan.

Photo via Steve46814

Key facts

Evidence of human history in Ulsan stretches back to prehistoric times, which you can see for yourself at the Ulsan Petroglyph Museum at Bangudae Terrace. Nearby you’ll find nine peaks of the Yeongman Alps — Sinbulsan is known for fields of silver grass — and other opportunities for outdoor recreation abound at places like Paraeso Falls.

In modern times, the industrial port city on the southeast coast is home to the world’s largest automobile assembly plant and shipyard, both owned by the Hyundai Group. In 1988, the car manufacturer made the Port of Portland its primary entry point to the US. A year later, at the groundbreaking ceremony for the company’s $12 million auto import facility and floating dock, skydivers delivered a shovel from 2,000 ft — talk about soaring to new heights.

Today, football fans cheer on Ulsan Hyundai FC in the K League 1 (the team has also been crowned club champions of Asia twice, in 2012 and 2020).

Ulsan's float in the Grand Floral Parade

Ulsan’s float from the 2007 Grand Floral Parade in Portland, where it won the Royal Rosarian Award for best craftsmanship and workmanship.

Photo via pdxjeff

Main attractions

Ulsan and Portland’s connection is also rooted in roses; each year in May and June, Ulsan Grand Park Rose Festival puts 3 million flowers on display, drawing crowds from all around the world.

Across Ulsan Bridge you’ll encounter Daewangam Park, which provides views of the coastline and nearby Ulgi Lighthouse while offering a sanctuary outside the bustle of the urban core.

Then you can raise a glass of makgeolli (a type of rice wine) at Boksoondoga, learn more history at Jangsaengpo Whale Museum or Seongnamsa Temple, shop earthenware at Onggi Pottery Village, and take one final stroll along the pebbly shore of Jeongja Beach.

Other sister cities

Portland has a grand total of nine sister cities; check out our travel hub to learn more about each one.

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