When your everyday person thinks of South Korea, what comes to mind is probably Seoul. Or kimchi, or Korean dramas, or Kim Yuna for that matter. But in terms of city names, Seoul would likely be at the top of the list. This is no surprise – Seoul is a major global metropolis, the capital and the biggest city of South Korea.
However, have you heard of Busan? As South Korea’s second largest city and located by the ocean, Busan is an important economic hub with the world’s fifth busiest seaport and the world’s biggest department store (the Shinsegae Centum City). It is especially known for its top-notch seafood and luxurious, sandy beaches.
As a tourist in Busan traveling from Seoul, I found Busan to be delightfully different and exotic in many ways, from the people to the food to the atmosphere. Here are a few moments from my time spent in Busan.
Commonly sold by Busan’s street vendors, hotteok is nothing special in Korean street food cuisine. However, the vendor selling this particular hotteok had a queue of eager customers down the street! Chewy, crunchy, and stuffed with sunflower and pumpkin seeds and sugar, this treat had me wishing I’d bought a second (or a third… or fourth…).
At Haeundae Beach, one of the most famous beaches in Korea, one can rent a mat and simply relax under the shade of one of the many umbrellas. During the hot seasons, the shores can be overrun by beachgoers clad in bathing suits, frolicking in the blue waters and soaking up the summer sun. This is the setting of a famous South Korean disaster movie called Haeundae (Tidal Wave in English), where Busan is hit by a huge tsunami.
Busan’s reigning symbol, Jagalchi Market is a huge fish market where fresh fish and seafood are sold daily. The products are so fresh, they’re still swimming around in the buckets! It’s an adventure to stroll through aisles of colorful, canopy-covered stalls, exploring the vast variety of seafood offered at this market. Speaking of seafood…
Raw octopus. That’s right, the lady selling octopi chopped the tentacled legs of one unlucky, still-squirming fellow up into little pieces, divided the parts into cups, and gave it to us to sample. Just for the record, it’s very salty. Very salty, very chewy, and very… lively.
This train station is of utmost importance in Korea’s transportation system. It is part of the Gyeongbu line, the most important railway line in the country that connects Seoul, located in the northern part of South Korea, to Busan, which is located in the south, in under 3 hours.
Although I only spent a few days in Busan, I left the city with many unforgettable experiences and blissful memories. The next time I fly to South Korea, stopping by Busan will definitely be on my itinerary.
All photographs in article courtesy of the author