For budget, travel info, culture, see Itinerary Part 1.
For Seoul Itinerary Days 1-3, and Days 12-14, see Parts 2 & 8 respectively.
For Andong Itinerary Day 4, see Part 3.
For Gyeongju Itinerary Day 5, see Part 4.
For Busan itinerary Days 6-8, see Part 5.
For Jeju Island Days 9-10, see Part 6.
For Haeinsa at Gayasan National Park Day 11, see Part 7.
Busan Itinerary Day 7: Ggangtong Shijang, Gukje Shijang, Jagalchi Shijang, Busan Museum of Art, Haeundae
A view from Jagalchi Market. My Busan friend said that this is the only place in Asia you can see houses on a slope towards the sea, with the mountains at the back. Is that true?
Start the morning and explore the three markets in Busan, all close to each other. Start from Jagalchi Market and work your way up north. (Map taken from The Korea Blog. Click to enlarge.)
Jagalchi Shijang (shijang=market) is South Korea’s largest seafood market and you can eat hwae (raw fish) straight from the fish tank. (Warning: hwae is an acquired taste.) When my Busan friend brought me around, a jagalchi ajumma (middle-aged woman selling fish) told him she hadn’t sold a single fish the entire morning. Would we be her first customer? Haha.
But no, we didn’t eat sashimi early in the morning and continued walking north. Actually I wanted to eat hwae. My Korean friend said, “It’s up to you,” but his eyes were saying no, no, no. Haha. So I didn’t.
When you reached this gate, saying “Busan International Film Festival,” take a look on the pavement which has signatures of many famous actors and directors. This is the original site of BIFF but it has since moved to Haeundae. This is also the start of Gukje Shijang, the largest and oldest market in Busan. You can find anything here–industrial goods to clothes.
When you’re at the BIFF, remember to buy ssiat hotteok (씨앗 호떡, seed hotcake) for the street food. Long queue. A cross between a doughnut and a cinnamon roll, ssiat hotteok is a pan-fried bun studded with pine nuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and has a brown sugar-honey filling. Sweet but not cloying, must eat.
After exploring Gukje Shijang, cross the road west to ggangtong shijang. Ggangtong=tin can. But this is more like a wet market now. Have your late breakfast and early lunch here.
Look for this famous shop at Ggangtong Shijang. It sells beancurd skin and fishballs (pictured below), like Singapore’s yong tou foo, but while I don’t like yong tou food, I enjoyed this thoroughly.
Busan’s version of yong tou foo.
Another food you can try at Ggangtong is this deep-fried egg with seafood, like Singapore’s oyster omelette. But you have to stand by the road and eat, quite tak glam. That’s my friend buying food for me!
Changseong-hyang Mandu Jip Restaurant supplies the dumplings in Oldboy, one of the greatest Korean movies. He’s sniffing a dumpling. (Photo Credit: Korea Taste.)
If you’re still not full, visit the nearby Chinatown for lunch. Since Oldboy is one of my favorite Korean movies, I had to eat at Changseong-hyang Mandu Jip (609-1 Choryang 1-dong, Dong-gu, +82-51-467-4496, 11am-10pm daily, subway line 1 to Busan Station exit 1, turn right at the first street, and then turn left), an inexpensive Korean-Chinese dumpling joint, which is the supplier in the film. Ignore the horrible jjajangmyeong (noodles with black-bean sauce) and go straight for the gigantic but average mandu (dumplings, pictured below), each one as big as an iphone.
Big as an iphone.
After lunch, visit the Busan Museum of Art (BMA), which is, in my opinion, the best contemporary art museum in Korea. Like the art scene, some of these contemporary pieces were nonsense but some had left an everlasting impact on me. Exhibits change every couple of months.
A humorous painting on traditional Korean paper and ink by Kim Jung-wook, a satire on Korean scary movies.
Chang Yu-jung first paints on objects, then photographs the painted objects, and prints the photographs on canvas and paints on top of the photographs. I think her technique enhances what she wants to convey: loss, nostalgia, isolation, memory and space that caused such an overwhelming emotion in me when I saw her work.
Another Chang Yu-jung’s work. I’d love to own one of her paintings.
Jeon Jun-ho is my favorite artist at this exhibit. His works are lol funny and very immediate. Even if you don’t know art, you’ll get it straight away. For instance, one of his sculptures was a a fake rotting egyptian mummy, looking at the Last Supper on an ipad, with cheerful Christmasy jingle. In the video artwork above, titled ironically “Welcome,” he uses a North Korean 50-won note. A pilot attempts to place the “Welcome” signpost on Baekdu Mountain at North Korea but s/he mis-spells the word and in the process of correcting the spelling, two helicopters collide and sets fire to the entire forest. Hilarious but also political.
My favorite artwork at the exhibit is by Bae Joon-sung. It is a motion-blurred photograph of a man looking at a classical painting. If you look at the photograph at one angle, the women in the painting are clothed. If you look at another angle, they are naked. Bae is obviously commenting on Laura Mulvey’s “The Male Gaze” in this work.
The cafe at BMA has quality too. I had a fantastic bingsoo (shaved ice with red bean) and saw Korean women doing hair treatment and having shoulder massages at the cafe. (I know it sounds strange but at that moment, it was quite classy.)
After an hour or two at BMA, go shop at Save Zone and SfunZ at Haeundae area, take a stroll along the Haeundae beach, and have dinner here.
How to Get to Jagalchi Shijang
Subway line 1 to Jagalchi station, exit 10. Walk 3 minutes.
7am-9pm daily, but my advice is to go in the morning because you can’t see anything at night and because it’s interesting to see people grocery-shopping.
How to Get to Gukje and Ggangtong Shijang
Subway line 1 to Jagalchi station, exit 7. Walk straight 3-5 minutes until you see BIFF sign on your left. Walk up north two streets to Gukje market. To get to Ggangtong shijang, cross the street west.
Although my guidebook says it’s opened from 9am-8pm, most shops were closed when I went at 7pm. Best to go in the mornings.
How to Get to Busan Museum of Art
Line 2 to Busan Museum of Art Station, exit 5.
1413 Woo-2-dong, Haeundae-gu.
Free admission. T-Sun: 10am-6pm. Closed 1 Jan, Lunar New Year, and Chuseok.
How to Get to Haeundae Beach
Subway Line 2 to Haeundae Station (exit 3 or 5).
To get to the shopping areas, Save Zone is at exit 3, Sfunz exit 1.
What to Eat at Haeundae Area
1. 48-nyeon Jeontong Haeundae Wonjo Halmae Gukbap (The Original 48-year-old Traditional Haeundae Granny Gukbap). GUKBAP is spicy broth over rice. This is at Haeundae market.
Add: 612-2 U-1-dong, Haeundae-gu, Busan (부산 해운대구 우1동 612-12);
T: +82 51 746 0387
2. Ah Ga KOREAN BBQ.
Add: 1276-1 Jung-dong, Haeundae-gu, Busan (부산 해운대구 중동 1276-1)
T: +82 51 742 7852
To be continued…
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.