2017 Fall David Solomon Korea Temple Exchange

Drawing Comparisons between South Korean Cities

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to travel to Busan, which is South Korea’s second largest city. This is a common travel destination for people visiting Korea, as it is offers beautiful beaches and regional specialties of seafood. Before my journey I had anticipated that Busan would offer a few unique sights but as a whole be fairly similar in nature to Seoul. However, I was delighted to discover that the city was not simply another Seoul on a smaller scale, but instead presented itself in a very distinct matter. In this post I aim to discuss some of my favorite activities that I undertook during my stay in Busan and illustrate some of the similarities and differences one can find between the coastal city and the capital city of Seoul.

In order to get to Busan I took a four and a half hour ride after my Friday classes from the Seoul express bus terminal, planning to meet some friends who had arrived earlier in the morning. We would be staying at a guesthouse for a very reasonable price (around $15 per night) which was located directly next to a metro station. This proved to be a perfect location as we utilized the subway in order to get to many of the attractions that Busan had to offer. One of my favorite destinations on the journey was the Gamcheon Culture Village. The village consisted of countless pastel colored houses built in a staircase fashion on the base of a coastal mountain. It was a beautiful sight to behold, especially as my friends and I watched the sun set over the pacific ocean from the rooftop of a local cafe.

Sunset over the Gamcheon Cultural Village

Wandering around the city after witnessing the sunset allowed us the opportunity to talk to some of the local populace, including an English speaking tour guide. Overall I found myself thinking of inhabitants of Busan as more laid-back and relaxed than those who lived in the hustle and bustle of Seoul. While it seems to me that people in Korea are typically more courteous than those in the U.S., in Busan this was even more apparent. The climate was also a bit more mild on the coast and along with it came offerings of specialty local seafood (which I could sadly not indulge in due to an allergy to fish!) A few similarities between the two cities were the very diverse offerings of cultural and entertainment value. Both Seoul and Busan offered a variety of entertainment venues, such as karaoke, bars, and clubs to enjoy during the night. Additionally, the cities both had a large number of cultural sites, including traditional markets which provide visitors with a glimpse into regional goods and specialities.

View of Busan from Busan Tower

Another highlight of my trip was a visit to the Haedong Yonggungsa Buddhist Temple. The temple was built right next to the shoreline and allowed for a stunning view of the ocean. This is a rarity, as most Korean temples are built in the mountains. Whenever I have visited temples in Seoul, there have been only a handful of visitors, but at this temple it was completely packed! The seaside view provided a contrast (and advantage) compared with temples I have experienced in Seoul. On the other hand, my excursion to Busan Tower revealed a similarity between the two cities. Busan Tower is located in a central area of the city that provided an 360 degree overview of the entire area. Overall, it essentially mirrored the same design and purpose of the Seoul Namsan Tower; both towers even utilized similar videos of their respective cities that played while ascending to the top via the elevator. In conclusion, I highly enjoyed my trip to Busan and would definitely recommend visiting it for anyone travelling in Korea. It was very interesting to compare the similarities and differences between the relaxed coastal feel of Busan and the metropolitan sprawl of Seoul. Thanks for reading and see you in the next post!

Haedong Yonggungsa Temple

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