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This a local re-posting of an essay I just wrote this week for The National Interest here. That pic is mine, taken next to the US embassy in Seoul.
Basically, I’m amazed at how unhinged the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) missile defense debate has become in South Korea. The South Korea left is really digging in its heels and turning this into a huge issue. ‘Activists’ have shaven their head and and thrown eggs at officials supporting deployment. Opposition lawmakers even went to Beijing, which strongly opposes the deployment, to ‘apologize.’ The National Assembly, now with a leftist majority, wants a vote on THAAD, and this might even become a presidential election year.
I honestly don’t understand this at all. All THAAD does is raise South Korea’s missile defense roof by about 100 kms. That’s it. SK already has lower tier missile defense, and THAAD’s radar adds nothing that the US doesn’t already have (contrary to China’s assertions, which the Chinese know but won’t admit). Yet the South Korea left and China (cynically) are treating this like the apocalypse, as some massive re-orientation of the northeast Asian strategic landscape. It’s not.
This is not intended to seem partisan. I actually agree with the SK left on a lot of domestic issues, such as better regulation of the chaebol, press freedom, protests rights, the SK right’s creepy mccarthyism. But on North Korea, I just don’t get the SK left at all, and running off to China over THAAD looked like craven appeasement of a bully. Appalling flunkeyism.
Anyway, read after the jump about why THAAD only buys SK a little more time to figure out to response to NK missilization. It’s hardly a revolution.
Since South Korean President Park Geun Hye’s decision to deploy the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) missile defense system in South Korea earlier this year, public discourse has flared intensely over the issue. Dozens, maybe hundreds, of editorials, both in favor of and highly critical, have appeared in Korea’s major newspapers. Analysts have invoked Thucydides to explain it. The conservative Saenuri party speaks of THAAD as a paradigm shift.
But the South Korean left has gotten the most carried away, where deployment of a single THAAD battery with just 8-10 anti-missile rockets, has morphed into great powers once again kicking around Korea. There have been marches, protests, and activists shaving their heads. A regular anti-THAAD protest (which I photographed above) has sprung up next to the US embassy in Seoul. The main opposition elected a new leader, Choo Mi-Ae, who buoyed her appointment with a strong anti-THAAD message. The left’s presidential candidate of 2012, Moon Jae-In, called for halting the deployment. There is talk of using THAAD as a campaign issue in next year’s presidential election.
This is so much sturm und drang over very little – heavily fanned by China, which knows very well how little THAAD changes things and why South Korea wants it. THAAD changes almost nothing geopolitically. It is a defensive system intended recapture the status quo ante against Northern missilization. It does not facilitate American or South Korean offensive action against North Korea or China. Its X-band radar may ostensibly reach into China, as Beijing claims, but other US systems can already determine a Chinese missile launch, so X-band adds nothing. South Korea is only buying one THAAD battery, which has only 8-10 rockets. That battery will not, as a concession to the China, cover Seoul. THAAD also does nothing to reduce North Korea’s conventional, artillery-barrage choke-hold on Seoul.
Next, THAAD has never been battle-tested. No one really knows how effective it will be. But even if all ten THAAD anti-missile rockets were to destroy Northern inbound missiles, the North almost certainly has, or will soon have, many more, including dummies. Finally, THAAD is only a mild quantitative expansion of what South Korea already has. It is not a qualitative shift in regional air battle scenarios. South Korea’s current missile defense capabilities, the Patriot PAC-2 (soon to be PAC-3), reach up an altitude of 40 kilometers, while THAAD can reach around 150 kms. If Beijing and the South Korea left are correct, adding an extra 110 kms of middle defense range is bringing down east Asian stability. This is preposterous.
In reality, THAAD just thickens South Korea’s ‘roof’ a little. It buys South Korea a few more years at best – a bit more time before North Korea builds so many missile, drones, dummies, and so on that it can overwhelm Southern air defense. THAAD does not obviate the North’s nuclear weapons, much less China’s. It just gives Seoul a little more breathing room to figure out what to do about Pyongyang’s spiraling missile program. This minor addition to Southern defense kicks the can of Northern nuclear weapons down the road while everyone scrambles to figure out what to do before air-strikes become a serious option.
Opponents suggest that THAAD will increase North Korean and Chinese anxiety, spurring reprisals. Perhaps, but those are worth the risk now that North Korea is so close to nuclear-tipped missiles and is likely on track to build dozens in the next decade. And it is North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs which are the real challenge to otherwise stable conventional deterrence on the peninsula. Nuclear missilization gives North Korea a growing asymmetric advantage. Failing to respond would leave South Korea more vulnerable to nuclear blackmail, or a nuclear first strike in case of crisis escalation and conflict. Whatever the risks of THAAD deployment, the risks of inaction are greater. THAAD can help mitigate those risks without offensively threatening South Korea’s neighbors.
But these practicalities are overshadowed by larger currents running through the Korean political system. The left remains committed to the Sunshine Policy (even though North Korea cheated egregiously by continuing its nuclear program through that period), and it still has trouble admitting that North Korea is greater threat to South Korea than the US or Japan (yes, really). Moon Jae-In could not politically admit until five years after the Cheonan was sunk, that North Korea was the culprit, and in 2012 an openly pro-Pyongyang political party garnered 10% of the vote. China of course has been glad to stoke all this with overwrought claims of THAAD’s capabilities and its bullying interventions into South Korean politics to block deployment.
It is thus understandable perhaps, that few wish to admit how incremental THAAD actually is. The South Korean left remains convinced that North Korea can be talked down, and playing to Korean anxieties of foreign domination – that America is arm-twisting Korea into this, and that China will turn against it – is powerfully resonant. And China benefits from every tortured Korean political decision that gets cast as Korea ‘choosing’ between the US and China. So long as Korea tilting toward the US also implies aligning with Japan and against a fellow Korean people, there is always sure to be deep popular resentment. All this stress the US-Korea alliance and changes the subject away from the Northern nuclear program – fine outcomes for China.
South Korea’s current defenses against a North Korean missile attack grow porous as Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile capabilities improve. THAAD improves things, but only a bit. Soon Pyongyang will have enough nuclear missiles that a Northern nuclear first strike would be powerful enough to existentially threaten the Republic of Korea. This is the real debate of the future: what will Seoul do when North Korea has so many missiles that it will be able to overwhelm any missile defense, and when those missiles are so powerful that they could destroy the Southern constitutional order in one strike? THAAD does not change this terrifying calculus; it just buys desperate Seoul a little more time to chew over it. That alone is reason enough to support but not overrate it.
120.-125. (Simile, Koam Ba Nyong, Cafe the Red, 3C Cafe Cozy Container, Cafe 5 Tak Koo, Runway and Coffee)
The following are an assortment of cafes located in the Jeonpo Cafe Street area, near Seomyeon in Busan, Korea’s second largest city, located along the coast in the southeast. As I live nearby, it’s an area myself and the better half often frequent. We’ll return to some of these places in more detailed future posts.
120. Simile. I wonder what this coffee shop is like?
121. Koam Ba Nyong Bakery and Cafe. The exterior of this cafe, on one of the quieter side streets of the area, looks super cute. Unfortunately, they are closed on Sundays, when this photo was taken.
122. Cafe the Red. Not much to say about this one yet. It’s red. So, it’s got that going for it.
123. 3C Cafe Cozy Container. Here’s a cafe in the Jeonpo Cafe Street area I have grown to enjoy a lot. True to its name, the theme is that it appears to have been, at least in part, built using container boxes. And the interior? Quite cozy. It’s also a cafe. 3C. And the coffee? I’m going to write more about this one in a separate post (which will be linked here when it’s up) and let you know. But I will say, I enjoyed that, too.
124. Cafe 5 Tak Koo. The exterior reminds me of a nail or hail salon. The inside looks like a diner from the 1960s. Not sure what to think of this one.
125. Runway and Coffee. And here is one that actually does traffic in things like hair or nails! And coffee. Always coffee.
JPDdoesROK is a former news editor/writer in New Jersey, USA, who served a one-year tour of duty in Dadaepo/Jangnim, Saha-gu, Busan from February 2013 to February 2014. He is now a teacher in Gimhae.
For all the dog owners and dog lovers residing in Korea, it’s really good to know how to say ‘dog’ in Korean. You might want to use it to describe your current or previous pets, or to exclaim your love for the furry little friends of ours. In this lesson, you will learn how to say ‘dog’ in Korean.
*Can’t read Korean yet? Click here to learn for free in about 60 minutes!
‘Dog’ in Korean
The word for ‘dog’ is very simple in Korean, just say 개 (gae)! Often it appears that people confuse this word to be an alternative and the more common word for dog to be 강아지 (gangaji) but that is actually not true! 개 (gae) is the word to use when wanting to express the meaning of ‘dog’. Later in this post you’ll find out what the word 강아지 (gangaji) actually specifically means.
As usual, the best way to memorize the word for ‘dog’ is by using it in real sentences. Go ahead and try for yourself!
이 개는 우리 한 식구로 사려해요 (igaeneun uri han shigguro saryeohaeyo)
I consider this dog as a member of our family
저도 개를 기르고 있어요 (jeodo gaereul gireugo isseoyo)
I am also raising a dog
그 개가 나를 집에까지 따라왔어 (geu gaega nareul jibekkaji ddarawasseo)
That dog followed me all the way home
Other ‘Dog’ Related Vocabulary
Before ending this lesson on how to say ‘dog’ in Korean, it might be handy for you to learn some words similar to it.
강아지 (gangaji) = puppy
멍멍 (meongmeong) = woof woof (aka how dogs in Korea ‘bark’)
멍멍이 (meongmeongi) = not really a word, but this is the cutest way you can refer to a pup or a dog when you see one, and especially kids in Korea love using it
Oftentimes, 개 (gae) is also the word used to count units and pieces, so don’t get confused if you see this word being used in a context other than ‘dog’.
A Word of Caution About Romanization in Korean
While we often give the romanization for the words and phrases we talk about, it’s best to actually learn the Korean alphabet, Hangul. This is because romanization is only an approximation of the sounds in Korean. It can often be confusing because the pronunciation isn’t exact, so it’s easy to be misunderstood. Romanization is perhaps best left to assist in learning the pronunciation of the words.
The good news is that Korean is an extremely scientific language, so you can learn to read in about 90 minutes!
Now you should be ready to tell people about your never dying love of dogs, describe the pups you are raising, or simply point at every dog you see on the streets while jumping up and down chanting 멍멍이!
*Want more Korean phrases? Go to our Korean Phrases Page for a complete list!
Learn to read Korean and be having simple conversations, taking taxis and ordering in Korean within a week with our FREE Hangeul Hacks series: http://www.90DayKorean.com/learn
Earlier this year, more than 100 sinkholes were discovered in Seoul, & with an additional 246-kilometer section of the capital yet to be scanned, that number could rise to as many as 300 or more. Korea FM host Chance Dorland spoke with David Weary, a research geologist at the U.S. Geological Survey in Reston, Virginia, & Jessica Canaan of Florida-based Champion Foundation Repair, to learn how sinkholes are formed & what could be done here in Seoul to both repair & prevent more sinkholes from developing in the future.
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Braving the mosquitos right before sunset, we went on a quick hike up Parysong Mountain (팔룡산) in Masan to see the free-standing stone pagodas. Yi Samyong started building these pagodas in 1993, stone by stone, as a symbol of hope for Korean reunification. His goal is to ultimately build 1,000 pagodas.
The pagodas are quite eerie to experience in real life as they’re surprisingly big, but they’re really impressive. Very easy to drive to and definitely worth the trip out there.
A look up at the main hall past a mature red pine at Jingwansa Temple in Masan, Gyeongsangnam-do.
Hello Again Everyone!!
Located in the south-western part of Masan, Gyeongsangnam-do, and under the two towering peaks of Suri-bong and Oknyeo-bong, is Jingwansa Temple.
Just beyond a cluttered cluster of older homes and up a valley with a stream at its side are the outskirts to Jingwansa Temple. When you first approach this Jogye Order Buddhist temple, your eyes will first be drawn to the large silver triad to the right of the main hall. Seated in the centre of this triad appears to be Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). He’s joined to the right by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha) and to the left by Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha). This large courtyard that houses these three equally large silver statues are backed by a row of Palsang-do murals and fronted by two simplistic stone lanterns.
To the left of this courtyard is the temple’s main hall. The main hall is adorned with large Palsang-do murals, as well as other Buddhist motif murals like an all-white image of Gwanseeum-bosal. The front latticework is beautiful in its intricate nature. And just out in front of the main hall is the temple’s diminutive bell pavilion. Stepping inside the main hall, you’ll be greeted by a main altar of statues that’s comprised of Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy) in the centre. On either side sits Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) and Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). Looking up at the ceiling and around at the walls inside the main hall, you’ll notice some beautiful paintings dedicated to Bohyeon-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power), Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Podae-hwasang (The Hempen Sack). Rounding out the images inside the main hall is a smaller guardian mural.
To the left of the main hall and past the monks’ dorms is the Samseong-gak. You’ll have to cross a stream that intersects the temple over an out of place blue bridge. Once you’ve crossed it with the temple garden to your left, you’ll enter the shaman shrine hall. Housed inside this hall are three larger images of Dokseong (The Lonely Saint), Chilseong (The Seven Stars), and Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit).
The final thing to be seen at Jingwansa Temple after re-crossing the blue temple bridge is a shrine dedicated to Yongwang (The Dragon King) at the head of the stream. The large granite statue of Yongwang stands on top of a stone turtle. Both statues are then fronted by two ornate stone lanterns and backed by a beautiful mature forest.
HOW TO GET THERE: The easiest way to get to Jingwansa Temple is to take a taxi from the Masan Nambu Intercity Bus terminal. The taxi ride will take 25 minutes, or 14.2 kilometres, and cost 13,000 won.
OVERALL RATING: 5/10. Upon first entering Jingwansa Temple, it has a bit of a strange feel to it with its fading paintings and chipped large silver statues. But after walking around a bit, the Jogye Order temple starts to grow on you with its more rustic feel. Have a look at the Yongwang shrine and enjoy the slightly eccentric courtyard that houses the three large silver statues of the Buddha.
As you first approach the strange silver statues of the Buddha.
The row of Palsang-do murals that back the silver statues.
The three statues in a row with Amita-bul in the centre joined by Seokgamoni-bul to the right and Mireuk-bul to the left.
A look towards the main hall from the eastern courtyard.
A closer look as you approach the main hall.
The temple’s tiny bell pavilion.
Some of the ornate and vibrant latticework that fronts the main hall’s doors.
One of the paintings from the Palsang-do set that adorns some of the exterior walls to the main hall.
As well as this all-white Gwanseeum-bosal painting.
This beautiful painting of Munsu-bosal awaits you as you first enter the main hall.
The main altar statues inside the main hall.
The paintings of flowers and Podae-hwasang that adorn the ceiling inside the main hall.
The guardian mural housed inside the main hall.
The blue bridge and Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall at Jingwansa Temple.
The large Chilseong mural housed inside the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.
The beautiful Yongwang shrine placed on the north end of the temple grounds.
Hello again, fellow Trazers! I’m a member of Trazy crew back again with a travel review, this time about my experience renting a Hanbok for one day at 3355 in Gyeongbokgung! Though I am Korean, the last time I wore Hanbok was over 10 years ago and I remember not enjoying it. I am someone who values comfort over anything, so I don’t enjoy wearing clothes that require a lot of maintenance and care.However, I’ve always loved the look of Hanbok and I had never properly toured Gyeongbokgung either, so when 3355 reached out and offered a Hanbok rental experience at their Gyeongbokgung branch, I said yes. The store is conveniently located within walking distance of Anguk Station near Gyeongbokgung Palace. For details and directions, click here.
In case you aren’t familiar with Hanbok, it is traditional Korean attire, part of the country’s national history and cultural heritage that has been handed down over generations. Dating back to the Three Kingdom’s Period (57 B.C – 668 A.D), the type and color of Hanbok would differ according to the season and the person’s gender, class, profession, or social status.
For example, members of the high social class wore silk and satin Hanbok while commoners wore Hanboks made of cotton . Those of a lower class who performed manual labor would usually wear a shorter top with wider sleeves to maximize comfort when working.
Hanbok used to be worn almost all the time whereas now, people usually wear them for occasions such as weddings, memorial services, birthdays or funerals.
However, it is recently gaining popularity again as many designers have altered Hanbok for everyday wear with traditional elements still remaining in the garment but with a more modern feel, getting rid of the notion that Hanbok can only be worn during special occasions.
Features of Hanbok
Hanbok consists of straight and curved lines, which give it an attractive flow representative of a uniquely korean aesthetic. It is also not meant to be tight-fitting and should instead give unrestrained movement to the body.
Women’s Hanbok consists of a short jacket called ‘jeogori’ (pictured above) which makes the upper body look very small, paired with a full skirt called ‘chima.’ The wide sleeves of the jeogori and flexible wide chima make the wearer look graceful, hiding the movements of the lower body which make the wearer appear to be floating on air.
The open arms of the jeogori have been said to represent warmth and embrace of the Korean people while the wide and voluminous skirts symbolize space and freedom.
For males, Hanbok is composed of trousers called ‘baji’, jeogori, a sleeveless top called ‘baeja’, vest called ‘jokki’, and an overcoat called ‘durumagi.’
For children,newborn babies wear a white ‘baenaet jeogori’ wishing for his or her health and longevity. Babies will also wear clothes made out of 100 pieces of cloth or quilts to celebrate their hundred days after being born. ‘Dolboks’ have multi-colored sleeves representing the wish for the wearer’s health and luck, ‘dol’ signifying a baby’s first birthday.
Symbolism of Colors and Designs
Colors of Hanbok are decided according to the “five colors theory”, which refers to the theory of the yin and yang and five elements. They are colored using natural dyes, which give them the depth and richness that cannot be achieved with artificial dyes.
Did you know that the colors of Hanbok all have different meanings? For example, red symbolizes good fortune and wealth, black symbolizes infinity, yellow represents the center of the universe and white is associated with purity and modesty. Gold used to be a color that the general public could not wear, as it was only for royalty.
Certain designs and patterns also represented the social ranking of the wearer. Lotus flowers signified a wish for nobility while peonies represented wishes for honor and wealth. For royalty figures and high-ranking officials, designs of dragons, phoenixes, cranes, and tigers were commonly used.
3355 Hanbok Rental Store
Now that you’ve learned a bit about Hanbok, let’s get onto the actual rental experience!
3355 (pronounced ‘Sam-Sam-O-O’) is a Hanbok rental store with locations in Gyeongbokgung and Bukchon Hanok Village. Here you can rent a Hanbok for a whole day for 30,000 ~ 50,000 KRW, depending on the style you choose. You can also enter Gyeongbokgung Palace, which is very close to the store for free if you wear Hanbok.
* The store opens at 9am and closes at 6pm, so the Hanbok must be returned before then, otherwise you will be charged 10,000 KRW per hour!
I went to the store at around 10am expecting it to be almost empty but I was surprised to see how crowded it already was! The customers were mainly comprised of foreign tourists, which made me realize how much popularity Hanbok has gained all over the world, probably mainly from its depiction in dramas and the media.
The store was spacious and clean, with interior that reminded me of a Korean traditional house – the wood floors, calligraphy writing on the pillars, and traditional paintings of birds and scenery on the walls.There was also an area with dressing tables full of hair accessories and shelves with purses to go with the Hanbok. Two large fitting rooms were also located behind a screen door.
There about 600 Hanboks in the store of all different colors and sizes with several employees ready to help you out with fitting. Here is the user guide. The Hanboks are categorized into four groups from A to D. They are as follows:
|Premium line of female Hanboks that are of the highest quality.||
|The most popular line of Hanboks for both females and males.||
|Graceful and elegant line of Hanboks that are also affordable.||
|Children’s Hanboks for ages 1~7.||
There were many different types of Hanbok such as traditional ones where the jeogori is longer with wider sleeves, modernized ones with shorter lengths and narrower sleeves, as well as male and children’s Hanbok.There were even modernized versions which have recently become very popular, which tie in the traditional designs and colors but are more simplistic, making the Hanbok more subtle and wearable.
I felt like a kid in a candy store as I tried to pick out one to wear. Whenever I thought I’d found ‘the one’, I would fall in love with another one on the rack. The Hanboks were all in great condition as they are dry cleaned as soon as they are returned, ready for the next customer to wear.
If you aren’t sure about what kind of Hanbok you want or want recommendations, ask the staff as they will help you out. Eventually, I managed to narrow it down to two – both of which were red (for good fortune and wealth! And also because I wanted to look fierce and a bit aggressive and felt like red connoted that……)
The flowers on the Hanbok on the left sold me, so I ended up choosing that one.
Try it on to see how it looks
Be aware that you can only try on one Hanbok, so choose wisely! An additional fitting will cost 5,000 KRW.
This is because of all steps involved in putting on the Hanbok as well as the pinning and styling that the staff do for you to ensure the best fit. You also don’t want to be dashing in and out of the fitting rooms and hogging them especially when the store is very crowded.
The staff were extremely helpful and kind, explaining all the steps involved in putting on the Hanbok and expertly pinning and securing areas so that I would get a customized fit.
*If anything is too tight, loose, long or short, tell the staff! You do not want to be walking around all day tripping over your skirt. There are also additional charges if you damage your Hanbok or make it dirty so be careful.
Once you have your Hanbok on, it’s time to accessorize! Pick out a complimentary purse to go with your Hanbok from the shelf.I chose a silver one to complement the red and stored the valuables I wanted to take around with me inside.You can also choose to get your hair styled for an additional 5,000 KRW to complete your look.I had my hair braided and secured with a cute flower in the middle. Additionally, there were many accessories to choose from with an additional charge such as ‘norigae‘(hung from the coat strings or skirt for a more luxurious look), ‘daenggi‘(traditional ribbon made of cloth to tie and decorate braided hair), and ‘binyeo‘(rod-like hairpin used to fasten a crown or wig and hold braided hair up). There were also traditional hats and crowns to really make it look like you are from the Joseon Dynasty!
There are shoes for men and women that you can wear with your Hanbok as well! I opted for a pair of white shoes with a chunky heel, thinking that the extra height would prevent me from tripping over the hem of my Hanbok. It sure did help with that, but my feet were in pain by the end so I would recommend wearing a comfortable pair of shoes.
Final step before heading out to show off your Hanbok is so store your belongings. You will be given a black tote bag to put your bag and clothes into. Simply give this bag to the staff at the reception area. You will then receive a slip of paper where you will write your name and phone number. Give this slip and your belongings to them and keep the receipt they give you. You will need it when you come back later so don’t lose it!
Show off your Hanbok!
Andddddd that’s it! You are now free to explore Gyeongbokgung Palace or simply walk around Seoul taking lots of pictures wearing your Hanbok!
I highly recommend the 3355 Hanbok Rental Store as the facilities are clean and the staff are extremely helpful and friendly. The varieties of Hanbok available here are also awesome that you’re bound to have a hard time picking just one to wear. I also really like how they don’t charge by the hour, so if you arrive early in the morning, you can wear the Hanbok all day!
Stay tuned for next week’s post, which will be about the spots that I visited in Gyeongbokgung Palace wearing my Hanbok! Finally, don’t forget to check out Trazy.com, Korea’s #1 travel shop for more travel reviews and up-to-date information on fun things to do in Korea!
September 25, 2016
Samcheok (삼척) is on the northeast coast of South Korea. It’s known for beautiful beaches and now, . I was telling my mom how I’ve been meaning to go out to Samcheok but that the 5-hour bus ride from Busan seemed daunting for a weekend trip. My mom said that tour groups often go in much quicker speeds, and luck would have it that her hiking friends were going on Sunday. For 70,000₩ a person, it included an all you could eat, drink, and sing fun-fest.
So, on a Sunday, I met my mom and her friends in Busan, 교대 exit 8, at 6:45am. Obviously, I knew I was going to be the youngest person on the bus. My mom warned me that she liked to “party” with her friends, and I kind of laughed it off. What I didn’t previously realize was that the bus was going to be a bunch of 50/60+ year-olds drinking soju and dancing in the aisles from 7am to midnight. I am not exaggerating. I wasn’t really sure how to react so I spoke Korean politely when spoken to and ate everything that was handed to me (e.g. an endless stream of fruit, rice cake, and dried fish/squid).
So, basically, the bus ride was a blast sprinkled with pitstops to use the toilet and/or take selfies by the ocean. The first real stop was at Haesindang Park (해신당공원), which is beautiful park decorated with large penis statues. My mom was not uncomfortable keeping normal conversation or asking me to take her photo by large genitalia, so I wasn’t either. I giggled a bit at all the people taking photos, but my mom shrugged it off, casually mentioning her annoyance in Korean culture’s blind adoration of all things men.
Next, we headed to Daegeum Cave / Daegeumgul (대금굴) which was a real treat! Admission typically costs 12,000₩ a person but you have to make a reservation well ahead. Tours are led by first taking a monorail trip into the cave, 40 people at a time. They give you a personal radio to listen to some classic Korean tunes and guide you around the cave. Guides are in Korean only. For your safety and others, you are not allowed to take any photos within the cave. The metal grates built onto the rock are slippery and wet, so not the best places to be taking pictures.
I’ve walked through the caves in Jeju and Halong Bay, but these Korean caves were the most impressive I’ve ever seen! It’s easy to see that they put a lot of effort into maintaining their natural beauty including limiting visitation to 720 people per day. The caves looked so alien to me, with so many colors and textures. Definitely not something you see every day. Also, keep in mind that if it’s hot outside, it’ll be cool in the cave and vice versa.
I have lived in Busan for years, but only recently made a trip up the hill to Gamcheon Culture Village (감천문화마을) aka Taeguekdo Village. The small, colorful houses were built quickly out of necessity for refugees during the Korean War. The village was poor compared to other Busan neighborhoods until 2009, when the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism in South Korea launched a project to model the village into a creative community. The streets were decorated with art and the homes transformed into studios and galleries.
I’ve heard of the area referred to in Korean as Korea’s Santorini, Machu Picchu, or even Legoland, because of its winding roads and colorful houses on hills overlooking the ocean. It felt like a mix between the street art of 798 Art Zone in Beijing and folks walking around in traditional clothes like in Kyoto.
The village is open from 9am to 5pm, and because the village is still inhabited by residents, there are signs asking you to be courteous of people living in the area. Still, there are many residents unhappy with the unexpected tourism, and I don’t blame them. I probably wouldn’t enjoy a bunch of noisy, messy visitors queuing in lines and taking pictures at all hours outside my door.
Directions: Take the subway to Toseong Station and walk out exit 6. Walk a kilometer up the hill or walk to the bus stop (충무동교차로). Take a right out of the subway, walk up the street and the bus stop is just past the hospital. Get on the local bus Saha 1-1, Seogu 2 or Seogu 2-2.
Address: 177-11, Gamnae 2-ro, Saha-gu, Busan