Getting off at Nampo-station, you can see quite a lot of Russian sailors as busy as Koreans inside the station. The sailors getting of af Busan port begin their trip and shopping with a huge rucksack on their back during the lay days. Round 9 o’clock in the morning, Nampo-station is crowded with people from 4 countries. Japanese and Chinese tourists looking around Gukje Market(International Market) and Jagalchi in the morning, Russians, and Koreans. The workers at cosmetics road shops around Nampo-station fluently speak both Japanese and Chinese. When a foreign tourist hand over a shopping list on several A4 papers to the workers, the road shop products are going out of the shop packed in boxes. On Nampo-dong street, I become a stranger. I feel like I’m the foreigner here.
Compared to the number of pedestrians, Nampo-street near the port is narrow. So it does not take much time to move on to another course. The first destination is Yongdusan mountain, but you don’t prepare for climbing. You can take escalator even for 69m-height only. The figure of a bursting dragon’s head absurdly disappeared during Japanese colonial era, but the flower clock and Busan tower still remain there. The US solders stayed in the old Kamp Hialeah always dropped by the flower clock and took pictures. Busan Tower, 120m-high from the top of Yongdusan mountain park, where you can look around Busan in a 360-degree has a happy legend that ‘a couple would break up if they visit the tower together.’ A single must visit the place. While you are drinking a cup of Americano inside Busan Tower observatory, you could smile at several couples who would break up soon taking lovey-dovey pictures. Ah, wipe your eyes.
Leaving Yongdusan park to the exit opposite to escalator, you can see Busan Modern History Museum right beside. You can see everything here. What a street car is, how is the old photo studio taking pictures with a pop, what old Busan looked like, and how Beomnaegol Dongcheon brook flowed. Busan and the life in Busan orally handed down from parents and grandparents has become the relic of modern history here. There are hexagon-shaped match cases made of papers, old fountain pens that always leaking the ink, old costume, and the first ramyeon(noodles). My mom, who insists she could reject at least 10 guys giving her the eye when she went to Gwangbok-dong street in Hepburn-style trench coat with tied up waste, used to memorize all of the movies she watched in Donggwang-dong theater.
Across the history museum begins Bosu-dong Book Alley. The 350m-long and 2m-wide narrow street is full of used book stores. Don’t imagine piles of used books smelling damp. There are stores curved but as big as huge book stores, cafeteria, categorical stands, and cute interior design. Someone has been selling used book at the same spot for about 60 years. For the comic book collectors, Bosu-dong is heaven, not to mention other kinds of books like fictions, non-fictions, college text books, and reference books, because you can even buy out-of-printing books as a packet at a cheap price. I found the best Korean cartoonist Kim Jin’s and Kim Hye Rin’s here. They were hardly found in book market, but their price was so cheap that I could give as much as the book store owner wanted. I came back home hungry as I emptied all of my money to have jajangmyeon(black-bean-sauce noodles) at the old Chinese restaurant across the street. At , you can secretly pick a book out of the well-organized shelf like a secret library and enjoy the book for long enough with handmade yogurt at the cafeteria.
The traditional market spreading across the book alley is Bupyeong Market with the long history and tradition. Every peddler in Busan gathered in crowds, tussled with each other, and finally settled here right after the war. This market is the star market of Busan traditional markets, still imposingly remaining here. Then there’s Gukje Market(International Market) creating a big block as a rival of Bupyeong Market. You can tell how much international the market is by its name. Since old times, there had been cans and C-ration(a type of combat ration) from US military piled up for sale. With import liberalization policy, the small international peddlers came to sell imported cosmetics and daily goods. Yes, the market deserves the name ‘international’. Now you can buy imported kitchen supplies of the brand in a department store at half price, and it takes a whole day long to look around the streets as they are full of interior piece shops and clothing stores. It is also the best of the best to see the old clothes coming from Japan and Canada. If you’re lucky, you can have clothes as good as new ones for 1,000 won.
Going around Gukje Market and go down back to the urban rail station, you pass through BIFF Plaza. In this small plaza full of pigeons and street food shops, there are hand-printings of master of movies all around the world. Despite the name BIFF Plaza, it is now regarded as only one of the city spots as every movie event has moved to Busan Cinema Center. You can see many tourists in a long line even for an hour in front of a Korean pancake handcart waiting for Korean Pancakes with Seed made popular by Lee Seung Gi.
Rather than going underground to cross the road, take the super broad crosswalk. It is for street vendors with handcarts. When you come in to the opposite street of BIFF Plaza by crossing the street, ‘this is Jagalchi’. Some Busan people do not like this crowded and boisterous street, because it is uneasy for them to reject the touting restaurant owners saying ‘have a meal here’. There is fresh raw meat ready unloaded from fishing boats at dawn. You can taste the wild world by buying the fish from the middle aged women cutting fish on red basins and enjoying the meal at a restaurant paying only for your sauce. No other dish is needed for the great raw fish. You can easily drink a bottle of Soju with the sweet ssamjang(soy bean paste) and chojang(red chili-pepper paste) that tastes differently in every house and a handful of raw fish and fresh vegetables.
Walk on Yeongdodaegyo bridge slowly for digestion. Yeongdodaegyo is opened two times a day. It is the only place you can see a bascule bridge in Korea. This low bridge as if it is touching the sea looks like a short trail rather than a bridge. Walking on the bridge in the morning, you can see what the sea is like near a city. The glitter on the sea, seagulls hitting the surface of water with their wings, fishing boat puttering on water, and the salty and fishy small of the sea. The sea is amazingly beautiful at sunset, too. Coming back to Nampo station after walking on Yeongdodaegyo bridge in a short tme, you is completed in Nampo-station. This is Busan.