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Busan, South Korea


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Busan (부산 or 釜山(Korean pronunciation: [pusan]), officially Busan Metropolitan City), romanized as Pusan before 2000, is South Korea’s second largest city after Seoul, with a population of approximately 3.6 million.

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The population of the metropolitan area, including the adjacent cities of Gimhae and Yangsan, is approximately 4.6 million.

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Located within South Korea’s largest industrial area, “Southeast economic zone”(includes Busan, Ulsan, South Gyeongsang Province), the city is the cultural, educational and economic center in the region. It is the largest port city in South Korea and the world’s fifth busiest seaport by cargo tonnage. 

The city is located on the southeastern-most tip of the Korean peninsula. The most densely built up areas of the city are situated in a number of narrow valleys between the Nakdong River and Suyeong River, with mountains separating some of the districts. Administratively, it is designated as a Metropolitan City. The Busan metropolitan area is divided into 15 major administrative districts and a single county.

 

 

Busan was the host city of the 2002 Asian Games and APEC 2005 Korea. It was also one of the host cities for the 2002 FIFA World Cup, and is a center for international conventions in Korea. On November 14, 2005, the city authorities officially announced its bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics Games. After Pyeongchang’s successful bid for the 2018 Winter Olympics, Busan is considering bidding to host the 2028 or 2032 Summer Olympics.

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Busan has Korea’s largest beach and longest river, and is home to the world’s largest department store, the Shinsegae Centum City.

HISTORY

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Geochilsan-guk existed in the second and 3rd and 4th centuries as a chiefdom of Jinhan. It was absorbed by Silla and renamed Geochilsan-gun. The word Geochilsan means rough mountain, probably referring to Hwangnyeongsan, located at the center of the city.

The grave goods excavated from mounded burials at Bokcheon-dong indicate that a complex chiefdom ruled by powerful individuals was present in the Busan area just as the three Kingdoms of Korea were forming, c. AD 300–400. The mounded burials of Bokcheon-dong were built along the top of a ridge that overlooks a wide area that makes up parts of modern-day Dongnae-gu and Yeonje-gu.

Archaeologists excavated more than 250 iron weapons and ingots from Burial No. 38, a wooden chamber tomb aot Bokcheon-dong.

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In 757, Geochilsan-gun was again renamed Dongnae, which it is still called.

From the beginning of the 15th century, the Korean government designated Busan as a trading port with the Japanese and allowed their settlement. Other Japanese settlements in Ulsan and Jinhae diminished later, but the Busan settlement, called Waegwan at the time, continued until Japan invaded Korea in 1592. After the war, diplomatic relations with the new shogunate in Japan were established in 1607, and Busan Waegwan was permitted to be reconstructed. The Japanese settlement, though relocated into Choryang later, continued to exist until Korea was exposed to modern diplomacy in 1876. In 1876, Busan became the first international port in Korea.

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During the Japanese rule, Busan (known in Japanese also as Fusan) developed into a hub trading port with Japan. Busan was the only city in Korea to adopt the steam tramway before electrification was introduced in 1924.

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As you see from the many photos I shot when there some years back, the streets just like Tokyo, Japan, are narrow but quaint and the abundance of shops and eateries just mind boggling to say the least. Its for sure a busy city and being the 2nd largest in South Korea only shows that South Koreans know how to work hard and they do. We Malaysians have a lot to learn when it comes to hard work as we tend to take things a little too easy and are generally a lazy bunch of people, sad but true.

South Koreans hardly whine about their hardships and the government is doing a pretty good job keeping things in place, laws in place and the general public there are law abiding as far as I can see. We Malaysians are the exact opposite, hence we have alot to learn when it comes to be team players which the Koreans are. But will we learn from countries such as South Korea? I have my reservations.

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During the Korean War, Busan was one of only two cities in South Korea not captured by the North Korean army within the first three months of the War. As a result, the city became a refugee camp site for Koreans during the war, along with Daegu.

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As Busan was one of the few areas in Korea that remained under the control of South Korea throughout the Korean War, for some time it served as a temporary capital of the Republic of Korea. UN troops established a defensive perimeter around the city known as the Pusan Perimeter in the summer and autumn of 1950. Since then, like Seoul, the city has been a self-governing metropolis and has built a strong urban character.

In 1963, Busan separated from Gyeongsangnam-do to become a Directly Governed City (Jikhalsi). In 1983, the provincial capitol of Gyeongsangnam-do was moved from Busan to Changwon. In 1995, Busan became a Metropolitan City (Gwangyeoksi).

 

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LOCATION

Busan is located on the Southeastern tip of the Korean Peninsula. It is located on the coast, which determined the development of the whole city itself. It is the nearest of South Korea’s six largest cities to Japan. The distance as the crow flies from Busan to Tsushima Island, Japan, is about 49.5 km (31 mi), to Fukuoka, Japan, about 180 km (112 mi), and by contrast, to Seoul about 314 km (195 mi). Busan borders low mountains on the north and west, and the seas on the south and east.

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The Nakdong River Delta is located on the west side of the city, and Geumjeongsan, the highest mountain in the city, on the north. The Nakdong River, South Korea’s longest river, flows through the west and empties into the Korea Strait. The southeastern region, called Yeongnam in Korea, encompasses both Gyeongsang Provinces and 3 metropolitan cities of Busan, Daegu and Ulsan. Ulsan lies northeast of Busan. Combined population exceeds 13 million.

 

 

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CLIMATE

Located on the southeasternmost tip of the Korean Peninsula, Busan has a cooler version of a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cwa). Extremely high or low temperatures are rare. May to July, late Springs and early Summers, are usually cooler than inland regions because of the ocean effect. Late Summer and early Autumn, August and September, are generally hot and humid and the city may experience typhoons at that time and be generally rainy.

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On September 15, 1959, Super Typhoon Sarah passed by the coast of the city and caused catastrophic damage. An unusually severe storm on September 12, 2003, Typhoon Maemi, also caused damage to ships and buildings and resulted in over 48 fatalities.

October and November are generally the most comfortable, with clear skies and pleasant temperatures. Winters are cold and comparatively dry with high winds, but much milder than other parts of Korea except Jeju-do and several islands of the southern coast. Busan and the nearby area has the least amount of snow compared to other regions of Korea due to its location. Snow falls on an average of only about 6 days per year. Even a little accumulation of snow can effectively shut down this seaport city because of the hilly terrain and unfamiliarity of motorists with driving on snow.

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I walked down several of those narrow streets and came across many stalls selling seafood of all types and like alot of countries in Asia, many people sitting down at these stalls eating their hearts away. So its pretty much the same scene in Malaysia, my country the only difference being that its a much cleaner site to be part of. South Koreans are cleaner and civic minded, even driving I noticed, not cutting here and there like some of our own maniacal Malaysian drivers who I suspect bought their drivers’ licences instead of “passing them” if you get my gist?.
Another thing that struck me about these people is that not only are they hard working and focused on their daily chores but extremely friendly and helpful. Of course the younger generation will cary around with them at least two smartphones, all Samsung devices (what else?) and everything is 5G when it comes to internet/wi-fi coverage .
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South Korea is after all the “most connected” country in the world, something yet again my country is far behind technology-wise mainly because our government cares less about development but rather concentrate on the more trivial things of life.
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Commercial areas are dispersed throughout the city near busy intersections and adjacent to university campuses, but the two largest central business districts in Busan are Seomyeon and Gwangbok-dong/Nampo-dong. There are also four substantial shopping areas of note: Seomyeon, Gwangbok-dong, Busan Dae Hakap in Jangjeon-dong, and Centum City in Haeundae-gu.

Seomyeon is the crossroads of Busan. The local subway station serves two lines and is one of the busiest in the city. Seomyeon subway station is also home to a large number of underground shops, selling a variety of products, predominately clothing and footwear. These are small boutique shops, selling locally produced products. Though shopping here can be frustrating, as you are often not allowed to try on the merchandise, you are sure to find some great bargains.

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The local head offices of Korean and international banks are located in Seomyeon. It is recognized as the ascendant shopping and entertainment district. It is also home to “Seomyeon Medical Street”, the district encompassing the 1 km-radius range around Lotte Department Store in Seomyeon and the Buam subway station. The Street is home to a total of 160 cosmetic and other medical clinics, including those specializing in cosmetic surgery, dermatology, ophthalmology and dentistry.[21][22] Directly adjacent to Seomyeon is Bujeon Market, the largest traditional market in the city. Other companies with offices here include Yeolmae Food.

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The Gwangbok-dong, Nampo-dong, and Jungang-dong areas form the old central business district. Some of the restaurants in this district use family recipes passed down the generations. Jagalchi Market, a large seafood market, is located in this area.

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The Gukje Market is also nearby. Jungang-dong is the home of many international law offices, the old Immigration Office, and the international ferry terminal serving Japanese routes. Lotte World II is currently under construction along the water between Jungang-dong 7-Ga and 8-Ga. Centum City, an industrial complex, is a popular new shopping area with luxury department stores.

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Nampo-dong is a popular central shopping and cafe district. The area around Pukyong National University and Kyungsung University also has many cafes, bars, and restaurants attracting college students and youth.

Busan is called the summer capital of Korea since it attracts tourists from all over the country to its six beaches. Luxury hotels and a carnival boardwalk line the beach at Haeundae. Gwangalli Beach has cafes, bars, and restaurants along the beach, and the Grand Gwangan Bridge. Other beaches include Dadaepo Beach on the west edge of the city and Songdo Beach, which is south-central.

Geumjeongsan to the west is a popular weekend hiking spot for Busan residents. To the north, the neighborhoods around Pusan National University (also known as PNU, which is one of the most highly recognized national institutes of higher education in Korea) have student theaters, cafes, bars and restaurants, as well as open-air cultural street performances on weekend nights. Nearby is Beomeosa, the city’s main Korean Buddhist temple.

Yongdusan Park occupies 69,000 square meters/17 acres (7 ha) and is home to the Busan Tower, Yongdusan Art Gallery, and the Busan Aquarium. The park supports approximately seventy different species of trees and is a favorite tourist destination, with various cultural events throughout the year.

Dongnae-gu is a wealthy and traditional residential area. Dongnae Oncheon is a natural spa area with many baths, tourist hotels, restaurants, clubs and shopping areas. Many restaurants in the area use family recipes. Chungnyeolsa is a Confucian shrine for soldiers who died during the 16th century battle against the Japanese at Dongnae Fortress.

Taejongdae is a natural park with magnificent cliffs facing the open sea on the island of Yeongdo.

The area known as the “Foreigners’ Shopping Street”, but commonly referred to as “Texas Street” near part of the Port of Busan, and adjacent to the front entrance to the Busan Train Station (부산역) has many businesses that cater to the local Russian population, as well as the crews of foreign ships. The area was originally the location of the local Chinatown and still contains a Chinese school.

Busan Aquarium, located in Haeundae Beach, is the largest aquarium in South Korea. Haedong Yonggung temple is one of three sacred places related to the Goddess Buddha. It is located right next to the sea. It lies in a mountain in the front and the sea at the back.

Gamcheon-dong, located west of Nampo-dong, is a hidden hillside area within the city with high, sweeping views of the ocean and brightly painted houses.

Temples, religious and historical sites

Beomeosa Temple

Haedong Yonggungsa Temple

  • Beomeosa Temple
  • Busanjinjiseong Fortress (or Jaseongdae)
  • Cheonseongjinseong Fortress
  • Chungnyeolsa Shrine
  • Dongnaeeupseong Fortress
  • Dongnae Hyanggyo Confucian shrine-school
  • Dongnaebu Dongheon
  • Dongsam-dong Shell Mound
  • Fortress site of Jwasuyeong
  • Geumjeongsanseong Fortress
  • Haedongyonggungsa Temple
  • Janggwancheong
  • Jeongongdan Altar
  • Samgwangsa Temple
  • Songgongdan Altar
  • Tumuli in Bokcheon-dong, Dongnae
  • United Nations Memorial Cemetery[26]
  • Waeseong in Jukseong-ri, Gijang
  • Yeongdo Bridge
  • Yeonggadae Pavilion
  • Yungongdan Altar

My trip to Busan was one of main cities/ports to visit during my Grand Asia Voyage three years ago and the other South Korean post was Jeju. Hope you all enjoyed this little historical feature, the photos I shot and you can certainly look foward to more my of international travel articles coming up in 2016.

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Happy New Year and May All Your Dreams and Aspirations come true this 2016!!

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