Sunday, April 19, 2009


In late March, I finally took the opportunity to explore South Korea's second largest city, Busan, which also happens to be the world's fifth largest seaport. Located on Korea's southern coast, Busan is a popular destination for beachcombers, foreign sailors, Japanese tourists, and perhaps in 2020, Olympians. Busan is vying to play host to the 2020 Summer Olympics.

Enjoying some hwae (sushi) on Haeundae Beach. Photo by Matt Kelley.

A chilly Haeundae Beach

Now that you have the same image of Busan I had before seeing it in person--seafood, sandy beaches, colorful vistas--I can't help but share my actual first impression of the city. My KTX train chugged into town after dark on a Saturday evening and, since my cronies were stuck in traffic an hour away, I spent my first two hours upon arrival perusing the vicinity of the station. I was quickly lured into "Chinatown," a neighborhood seemingly inoccuous from afar. Despite the oriental moniker, once I ventured past the red lanterns hanging around the perimeter I began to wonder if I had somehow detrained in Vladivostok. The area may be the closest thing Busan has to a Chinatown, but it's every bit as much Russian sailorville, Southeast Asian prostitiuteburg, and American GI City. I suppose it's just like me to unknowlingly head straight for the seediest part of town, and then start taking pictures.

Chinatown, a.k.a. "Texas Street"

Thankfully, there's plenty to enjoy beyond Busan's mixing bowl of international vice. The ports, beaches, narrow alleyways, and cool bridges are all fun to check out on foot, but my favorite part of the trip was viewing the city from the sky. A trip up Busan Tower reveals a colorful, hilly port city oddly reminiscent of Latin America and San Francisco all at once. It sure ain't Seoul!

Haeundae is one of the nation's most famous beaches, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors every weekend during warm-weather months. Unfortuantely for ornithophobes like me, it's also a hot spot for pigeons, seagulls, and the crazies who like to feed them. If I ever decide to overcome my fear through shock therapy, Haeundae would be a prime location to undergo treatment.

My worst nightmare on Haeundae Beach. Photo by Matt Kelley

For more detailed information about Busan, check out Matt Kelley's Discovering Korea blog.


jazzkevin said...

It's about time you posted another blog! LOL Wonderful pictures!

Abby Rhodes said...

Ah, I can always count on our loyal listeners (and readers) to reinforce "blogger's burden!"

Thanks for reading, Kevin!

Michelle said...

WOW... Nice scenery.. especially the beach... Thanks for sharing

hmyn said...

There surely isn't a better way to see a city. In a short time and it's quite different.

Photo of seaguls reminded me of Alfred Hitchcock's film "The Birds". I haven't been in such a situation, but I admit seeing all those birds coming towards me, looks somehow scary! yaiks! ;)

Vic in Long Beach, CA said...

Thank you very much Abby. My first Korean teacher is from Pusan. We met in my class at the First Korean Presbyterian Church of Las Vegas. At the time she was an exchange student to UNLV.
I guess every city has it's seedy areas. Even in Muslim Abu Dhabi prostitutes are available (so I'm told). But it would come as quite a shock to just bee-bop off the train, and there you are.

Jessica S. Tooma said...

Great post Abby!
I have a question for you, is there a KBS message board for non-Korean speakers to talk about KBS shows? I have not seen any KBS sites on twitter or facebook either.

Vic in Long Beach, CA said...

Here is one show they stream, on Sunday nights at 8:00PM (20:00) Pacific Time. It is called "Korean Pop Interactive". Ignore Chris' photo here, he was really dorky when he started, but he's not like that any more. I go by the name "Seoul Survivor" in this forum (message board)

Abby Rhodes said...

Hi, Jessica,

We're working on setting up a message board for our Worldwide Friendship program, but in the meantime, please take Vic's advice and check out Chris and Sarah's K-Pop Connection forum.

If you have any comments for us, please e-mail us at


Jessica S. Tooma said...

Thanks for responding Vic and Abby.
The link that you provided however did not work when I used it. I will do to the boards from the KBS site, that should work.

The Worldwide Friendship Program sounds interesting, it would be a great idea to somehow tie it into the "Chitchat with Lovely Ladies" show on KBS. They are ambassadors of Korea and their native countries after all. When the Ladies have a break and visit their native countries, fans of Chitchat can ask them questions in a meet and greet event about Korea, the show and about the other Chitchat Ladies. Or you can set up chat sessions via SKYPE for the Überfans after winning some sort of a contest which can be offered via the English radio shows or the internet.


Vic in Long Beach, CA said...

Jessica, what you have to do, (at least on my Mozilla Firefox) is to copy and paste both lines of the link. So you drag the mouse (left button down) over both lines, then right click and choose "Copy". After this in the URL address right click again, and "Paste". Then hit return. If you have troubles, I will be happy to help you!

Peter said...

A -

Gonna second JK's sentiment - MORE entries, please! Always interesting to read your take on South Korea (and any other esoterica) as someone who's been entrenched there for 2 (?) years now...


Clarissa said...

Nice birds Ab! I can actually picture your reaction when a gust of birds swarmed your head, tragically ruining your vision at the beach! :)

Vicky said...

Hi Abby,

Like them, i can't wait for your next postings. Beautiful pics and good stories deepened our knowledge about Korea.


Jeff said...

Hey, Abby. Great entry, as usual. Don't let the "Blogger's Burden" weigh too heavily on you. Quality over quantity after all!

Good to hear that WWF will be getting a message board, too.


عبدالالاه ءازو said...

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abdelilah izzou