Busan Beat (Issue One, Spring 2018
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The Jeonpo Cafe Street and Antique Market Walk
On a typically crisp Pusan winter day in January, my friend and I took off from the Seomyeon subway station, and headed towards Hwamyeong San (Mountain), along Seo-Jeon Road. (Please note that if you aren’t interested in the scenic route, you can always get off at Jenpo Station or the Busan International Finance Centre Stations on the Green Line #2). Along the way, you can find the urban pipe markets, shoe cobblers, as well as motor-boating engine stores. Quite an eclectic group of stores and markets for such a short jaunt. Naturally, along this street, you can find several Korean restaurants and coffee shops, of course, in case you need a cappuccino or iced latte. However, things take a turn for the better at the first right turn on the route, at NC Department Store. This is the beginning of the famed Jeonpo Cafe Street. This lane has several international and local restaurants, coffee shops, as well as a very interesting cultural center, further up on the right, which is for Pusan’s South East Asian community. They have many events, such as Vietnamese Film Festivals. Even the government buildings in this area are orange and yellow, which really gives life to this area. There is a great vibe to this area, even in daylight hours. A little further along, is a river. There is a nice walkway up above/beside the river, so it’s well worth it. Even though there was construction in the river (they were laying pipe), since the river had been dammed, there were still many migratory birds hanging about. Originally, this was the main purpose of my walk, to walk from Seomyeon to Kwangali, along the river, but then I discovered something wonderful. Well, wonderful to me, anyhow. Maybe to someone else, it could look like a hoarder’s worst nightmare (or a hoarder’s paradise). One block or so past the E-Mart on the same street is a store on the left that appears to the naked eye as a pure junk pile. However, upon closer inspection, we discovered a treasure trove of antiques, ranging from 20 to 30 years old, to items that may well venture into the Japanese occupation era and beyond. We found old records, souvenirs from the Philippines, phones from the 1970s, farming equipment that rightfully so, should be in a museum, ancient bells (I bought one), school uniforms from the 1950s, plaques and awards for individual people, and even American Civil War era replica guns. If you want to spruce up your apt., can’t think of what to get your significant other for an anniversary, or would like to give your family a cool ancient relic from Korea, this store is for you. For the more entrepreneurial minded, come here, buy up all the goodies and sell them on E-Bay! Like I wrote, it’s a gigantic mess, but well worth a visit. We knew that if we kept walking straight along the river, we’d eventually hit the sea at Nampodong, which is not where I live, so we turned left, in order to follow the subway line. We found a typical Korean market on this street, but the great thing was, is it also turned out to be an antique store market. Across the street, had a tea store, but the tea pots they sold were ancient, as was a doll that may have dated from “the good old days”. This store also had manufactured new items that looked old. We kept walking and then found some portable AM/FM radio stores, and across the street, we found another antiques store, which was better organized. There was a near life sized wooden statue of Elvis, Japanese tea containers (I bought that), Hakka Chinese wax paper umbrellas, ashtrays made of glass, Lotte Giants memorabilia from yesteryear, many paintings of various things, such as sailing boats, watches, instruments of torture, vacuum cleans and even kitchen appliances that your great grandmother used. Then we kept on walking, and less than half a block away on the opposite side of the street, we found the coup des gras; the grand champion of antique stores in this area. There were fully armoured knights’ outfits, racy paintings, arts and crafts of varying lengths, sizes, and girths, dolls, Choseun era swords, top hats, religious paraphernalia, currencies/coins, statues, pots and pans, lamps and bird’s cages. There is also a Korean restaurant right next door, serving up cheap soups and bimbimbap. Give it a try. Tell them Michael sent you.
Bujeon Market through the Citizen’s Park to Children’s Park
Once again, you will get off at the Seomyeon Subway Station and walk North underground towards the next station on the orange line, Bujeon Station. Along the way, you are going to encounter Adjama. I use this term one onto itself. If you have been here for longer than a few months to a few years, you will understand, but for a newcomer, Adjama means a short curly haired gum smacking woman with the physical strength of an NFL linebacker or All Black’s rugby player, who always manages to find a solar-plex to rest their shoulder in. Adjama, will, however, give you the shirt off her back, or an umbrella when it is raining, or a free shot of soju in a local market, so in essence, they are the sweetest Korean babushkas you’ll ever meet (not). Okay, back to the point; you are walking in an underground mall devoted to Adjama. Take your time; go over all the items; it’s a treasure trove of oddities, from wigs, to clothing that should only be worn by a clown, to seamstresses. Once you make your way to Bujeon Station, get out at one of the exits on your left. Meander through the Bujeon Market, which is, in my opinion, the largest and friendliest local market for Koreans in Busan. If you are lucky, you may chance upon an older gentleman wearing red exercise clothes who ran in a marathon. He sells sunglasses, but is really there to show you his laminated newspaper clipping from 1971 (or was in 1982?) about his run and 15 minutes of fame. Once you are done exploring the market, which could take several hours, make your way down to the next subway station on the orange line, which is Yang-Jeon Station. Hang a left up the next major intersection. You’ll know if it’s the right one if you head under a bridge for a train about five minutes later. Then you’ll chance upon the entrance to Busan Citizen’s Park. It is the park of the future, because right now, it ain’t much. There are little to few trees, but there are no scooters or cars, so it can be a good place to jog, walk or get away. Sometimes there is art work, and at times, an underground museum, which seems to have unusual hours. Just beyond yonder, is an E-Mart Traders (the Korean COSTCO), if you’d like to buy some groceries. The one saving grace of this grandiose park is that at one time, it was a horse racing track during the Japanese Occupation era, and it used to be U.S. Army Base Hialeah. You can see some reminents of this base in a museum and in some barracks.
For those of use that remember Pusan in the 1990s and early 2000s, take the exit out of the park where The D (Dallas) Club and The Legion used to be, and head north towards the Busan Grand Children’s Park. Along the way, you’ll pass the Busan National Gugak Center. Once you reach the end of the road, you’ll hit a small roundabout. At the roundabout, turn right and you’ll be right inside the Pusan Grand Children’s Park. The name can be a little deceiving, because you’ll see lots of seniors, and very few children. There are multitudes of buildings where your children can learn things, such as transportation education, and there is a zoo there. Last I heard, there was a liger (a tiger lion) mix. There are funny looking status and paintings for children to look at, and the lake is okay, but the best part, in my opinion, is the walking and hiking. If you head north, you can find the Guemjeong Mountain ridge trail, which you can take all the way to Pomosa Temple, which takes about four to six hours, depending on your level of fitness and how many times you stop. Enjoy this and the many walking tours of Pusan to come in the following issues of the Busan Beat!!
Bio: Michael is a Canadian English professor, but traveller and trekker at heart. He has been living and working in Asia since 1997, having called Pusan his home for six of those years. When he is not binge watching television or eating out with Taiwanese wife, Carol, he is hiking in the beautiful mountains of Pusan or visiting one of the local markets.