Here is the second instalment from last weekend’s trip to Busan…
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Market
I was heading for the City Hall by way of Bujeon Market; the largest in Busan. It is actually referred to as Bujeon Market Town as it covers so many blocks. Usually I only ever look in those kind of places but this time I wanted something. I only wanted to buy a couple of bananas.
As I got within about 50 metres I could hear some music and shouting – like a poor karaoke. Was that music or some orchestrated commotion? In a few seconds I saw it. A huge rally, march, demo; call it what you will. The long line of people up ahead all seemed to be carrying South Korean flags. I quickened my pace as I drew closer. Keen to see what was going on.
Not only were there thousands of South Korean flags (and I emphasise the “South”) but also hundreds of American stars and stripes flags.
By the time I was close enough to see properly it became clear that this was a very anti North Korean demonstration. There were pictures of the North’s leader crossed out. The same with their flag. Plus all sorts of banners in Korean; I had no idea what they said of course but there were a few in English that said “SOS Republic of Koreans with USA”.
I spent some time watching the passing crowds and slipping into some of the market alleys just off the main road. Trying to see some of the market but at the same time not wanting to miss anything.
It was only a market. I have seen enough of them in the past. This display of patriotism and devotion to their American allies seemed far more interesting. I wanted to get to the front of the march and maybe see where they were going to stop and amass.
There were many thousands of people on this protest. By the time I got to the front of the march it was getting dark and I needed to make my way to the hotel. I also realised I had drifted far from the market area. I never did get my bananas.
The following morning I headed to the east of the city. To the modern seaside resort of Haeundae Beach (pronounced hay-un-day). The best and most popular beach for the people of Busan. A very modern seaside resort. What can I say? Sea. Sand. Commercialised. Freezing. The sun may have been shining but it really was cold. But there was finally some indication that the winter Olympics was taking place in the country…
Despite being very commercial – what type of popular beach resort isn’t? – I was fairly impressed. It would be a great place to spend a few days in spring or summer. And the place certainly attracts lot of Korean money. Three huge skyscraper luxury apartment blocks are being built at one end of the beach. While at the other end there is also the oddly named ‘We’ve the Zenith’ centre which includes some of the tallest residential buildings in the world.
Who knows? next time I am in this part of the world it may be warm enough to dip a toe in the sea. Haeundae Beach would be a great place to do that.
Unfortunately, I had to get the metro back to the bus station and head back to base. Work the next day. It can be easy to forget you are not on holiday. Especially after seeing a place like Haeundae Beach.