***This article has been edited a lot. For F. Duckleford’s trademark style and flair, check out his website “American in Busan“… hilarious, but perhaps not safe for work.***
Deokcheon is the best place to live that isn’t a beach, campus, or Seomyeon. It has changed drastically in the last two years, developing into a bustling commercial area packed full of restaurants and even its own nightlife. It is the west hub of Busan- the transfer station that connects brown and green. Thirty minutes to Seomyeon or Gwangalli Beach, and not much longer for PNU or Haeundae. Deokcheon IS West Busan. To the north lies Hwamyong, the last enclave of foreigners before Wildling territory. Little is known about the Others that live beyond the Hwam.
Before discovering my own neighborhood, I would come to Deokcheon for dinner every single night. The food in Deokcheon is amazing. There’s something for everyone, even those who complain about Korean food. There have got to be at least ten BBQ joints. Some of these places serve soju for 2k a bottle, 33% less than market price. Higher quality meat options are offered everywhere as you’d expect. Other Korean food like dwejigukbap, gimbap, street food, fried chicken, baked chicken, and duck casseroles, pig hooves, seafood, ham hocks, pajeon, crappy jook, etc. are everywhere.
What makes Deokcheon so great is that all these places exist on a few tightly packed pedestrian streets. Everything, including the nightlife is as densely packed as it can get. You can eat dinner at a BBQ, get wasted with some high schoolers, pick up some questionable creatures of the night, and you still wouldn’t have spent more than 5 minutes walking down a street.
There are a lot of great places to eat here and you’ll just have to explore yourself, it’s more fun that way. But if you want to play it safe, Deokcheon has three stellar Korean franchises, Okkudak, Hong Kong Banjum and Seo Re. You know your neighborhood has finally ‘made it’ if there’s a Seo Re.
Directions: For baked chicken that tastes so good you’ll think it’s fried, Take a right out of exit nine, and then the first left. Okkudak will be on your right. It will look like this.
For spicy seafood noodle soup and fried dumplings (Champong and gun mandu): Walk further up the street until you see this guy at the next intersection:
Only 4k for a big bowl. One of the best meals you can get in Korea that doesn’t involve a grill.
For BBQ ham hocks and 1$ kimchi jiggae head out straight out of exit two down the pedestrian path. Make the last left, past the Daiso. Seo Re will be on your left. If you’ve never seen one, it’ll be recognizable by its big black Korean characters on wood. Ask forkalmeggi or may-oon kalmeggi if you like it spicy. This is kalmeggi (literally, seagull. Actually, pig)
Directly above Seo Re is a new bbq buffet that is very good for its price. 9.9k before 5, 10.9k after. It’s a franchise found all over Korea.
The establishment next to Seo Re is a quaint makgeolli house. The booths are quite private, though it can get loud as noisy Chinese exchange students like to drink here (tons of them work in Deokcheon). I recommend the kiwi or strawberry makgeolli. You have to order food, I recommend the pajeon. It’s got bits of octopus and mussels in it. The kimchijeon is also quite nice.
There are a plenty of street food places scattered about Deokcheon, including a takoyaki stand by the bus stop across the street from Newcore. It’s run by a few dudes who are annoyingly handsome and good at English. There’s two fried chicken stands in the alley with Seo-Re, but my favorite street chicken by far is the hole in the wall on the side-street parallel to it. There, the chicken is drowned in a sweet sauce and doused in pumpkin and black and white sesame seeds. You can’t miss it, the woman will be masturbating the chicken like Coldstone ice cream.. There’ll be steam coming out and the smell will be devine. Every time I’m in Deokcheon I’m on this shit faster than stink on dog.
If Korean food isn’t your thing, first of all you suck, second of all here’s a list of the options you have in Deokcheon.
- Baskin Robbins
- Pizza Hut
- Hans Deli
- Some shitty Italian place,
- Dollar Pizza / “NY Pizza”
- Outback Steakhouse
- Kill yourself
No but seriously, there are many options in Deokcheon, and most of these are right around Exit 9. You might need some help with the others though.
Directions: From Exit 2, walk straight, and follow the sidewalk. Walk straight for 3 minutes, turn right and proceed directly into oncoming traffic.
Deokcheon really comes alive at night. It’s not much of a foreigner hangout, but damn does it look fun for Koreans! Music is blasting at inappropriate volume on the streets, homeless dudes are drunk at 8PM, ajummas are throwing advertisements all over the place, and there are pretty young things everywhere. Emphasis on the young, because there are tons of high school and college-aged kids here to hangout after a long day of school.
People mostly get drunk with dinner, but if you want to party in Deokcheon you have options too. First of all, you could email someone who isn’t me at email@example.com
Nightlife here revolves around Blue Ketchup, a booking club for younger people. The sound system is good, and the visualizer covers an impressive area, the music is mainstream house. You sit at a table, order some food and soju, and other tables might mingle with you if they’re intrigued. There’s no dance floor, but plenty of space to dance. This is a place for high schoolers to get wasted. Last time I was there I talked to a girl before realizing she was born in 1994. Yikes.
Connected to the subway station is the Deokcheon fashion street. It’s full of boutique clothes shops and it’s a fun arcade to walk through. Above it is a Newcore, the department store of Deokcheon, complete with movie theater at the top and a bathhouse around the back. If you’re not too large of a person, there are lots of mid-level clothes to buy here, though not much for brandwhores. Some of the street-level boutiques are worth looking at too. I bought a cotton/poly blend dress shirt for 10k that looks better than some shirts I’ve bought in the west for 8 times the price.
Living in Deokcheon is like a 2 for 1 deal. Gupo lies adjacent to you, and has even more to offer. The traditional market is a great place to go for meat, seafood, fruit, vegetables, cheap clothes, blowjobs and quick eats. Gupo Market even has a lady selling boxes of that kush chicken I was raving about before. It’s the happiest place on the planet! [Check out B.A.’s Gupo Market article for more]
Keep sailing west and you’ll pass by the big love motels. A short walk further down the freeway, past some porn theaters and you’ll reach Gupo proper. As if Deokcheon wasn’t sick enough already, it’s right next to Gupo station, one of the two KTX stations in Busan. There’s a great almost-Chinese mandu restaurant in front of the train station.
Facing the train station, turn right at that shitty little street and walk about ten feet. You’ll see a small shop on your right. The sign will have a bunch of characters that look too complex to be Korean, if you’re in doubt just go in and look for pictures of mandu. I recommend jin mandu, the steamed variety, but just try everything. One order is 5k, and serves half of an American.
The Bottom Line
I don’t live in Deokcheon, but I say I live in West Busan. I’m kinda like one of those suburban kids I went to school with who grew up in Naperville or Orland Park but will say they’re from Chicago. It’s one of the best places to live, with much more to explore than what I’ve covered here, including seafood, grilled shellfish, and several decent Japanese restaurants.
p.s. I wouldn’t trust the boxing gym. My friend started boxing there and the coach had him doing uppercuts with no handwraps wraps the first day. Uppercuts are something you do after a year. Training without hand wraps is something you do never.
p.p.s Also, mountains.
Check out F. Duckelford’s blog, American in Busan