The city of Busan sits on the Korean Peninsula’s south-eastern coastline, just a short flight from Asian capitals like Beijing and Tokyo, and a two-and-a-half hour bullet train ride from Seoul.
South Korea’s largest port and second-largest city spreads out along the jagged coastline of the Yeongnam Region. Busan rises into a sea of mountains beyond.
From the shellfish which drew Paleolithic gatherers to its rugged shores, to the never-ending offerings of Jagalchi Fish Market,
…from the Joseon ships of old, to the dockyards which helped drive South Korea’s economic miracle. Busan has forever been linked to the ocean.
As the world races further into the 21st century, Busan continues to evolve, into a haven where hard-working Koreans can let their hair down, reflect on the past, and peer into the future.
While the bustling port underpins Busan’s economic vitality, it’s the city’s beaches which increasingly draw travellers from all over Asia.
Or step out onto the skywalk at the end of the Yongho-Dong Peninsula,
and take in the views of the Oryukdo Islands just offshore.
Cross historic Yeongdodaegyo Bridge and head to Taejongdae Park. It was at these cliffs where, the 29th King of Silla spent his leisure time shooting arrows into the passing clouds.
For today’s mere mortals, the park’s the perfect place to slip into a slower state of mind as cargo ships journey to far off ports.
On nearby Mt Cheonma, take the 20-minute hike to the observation platform to see “Dynamic Busan”spread out before you.
In the city’s north, climb aboard a cable car for the five-minute ride to Geumgang Park, the home to Busan’s highest peak.
Join the thousands of locals who hike here each weekend, exploring the forest trails and walls of Geumgang Fortress.
Busan was one of the few cities of the south not to fall during the Korean War, becoming a safe haven for over half a million refugees.
At the UN Peace Memorial Hall, the sacrifices of both combatants and civilians are remembered, as are the stories of suffering from ongoing conflicts around the globe.
Busan owes much to it’s resilient refugees.
Dishes born of post-war hardship have been perfected into culinary masterpieces. An alleyway where a refugee couple sold magazines discarded by American GIs grew into an entire street of bookshops.
And a few humble stalls where the newcomers traded life’s basics
is now one of Korea’s biggest and best-loved traditional markets, selling everything from Kimchi to sneakers.
Busan’s refugees first filled the portside areas, before building hundreds of makeshift homes on the steep barren hills around the city.
After years of keeping their noses to the grindstone,
the residents of Gamcheon have embraced their creative side,
adorning their laneways and walls with artworks which have transformed their neighbourhood into one of the city’s top tourist attractions.
Gamcheon’s makeover symbolises Busan’s new-found creative,
cultural and entrepreneurial energy which has blossomed all over the city.
See this energy in its world-class museums, …galleries, …and festivals.
Hear it, in the happy bustle of its shopping streets, and across the three-million-square-feet of the world’s largest department store.
Smell it; Taste it, in a cuisine which lures foodies and seafood lovers from all over the globe.
And feel it, as the city erupts in light each night, just like the displays of its annual lantern festival.
After centuries of keeping enemies from its gates, and decades of hardship and toil, this rollicking port town has at last come into its own.
Today’s Busan is a bridge, perfectly connecting the past and future into a very special now.