By Emma O’Flynn
Ever wonder about the thing-on-the-hill above Daesindong? A tower like structure poking above the tree line, with a Korea flag alongside it, can be seen from the neighbourhood, and even from parts of downtown Nampo. It just so happens to be a memorial park perched in one of the best spots in Busan.
Set on the crest of Daecheong Mountain, Jungang Park is south facing, commanding impressive views of Nampodong, and across the harbor to the new bridge to Yeongdo. This vista helps to illustrate how Busan is carved up into sections by the mountains that have gifted the city its name.
As well as the fairly impressive Chunghon tower, the park includes a memorial statue to fallen war heroes, a sweeping driveway, and a rather grand stone stairway leading up to it. Though the walk is not at all taxing, there is still a little trolley lift for those who are feeling particularly lazy (or infirmed!).
The tower itself is skirted with a pond and small jet fountains, and the centre is a perfectly cylindrical chamber, not unlike a tomb, with names of those soldiers who gave their lives in the struggle for independence. And it’s not a short list. The cool dark interior of this room provides a bit of peace and quiet with which to reflect upon this.
By far one of the best things about this park, however, is the quiet. Busan is a big, bustling city, with an endless drone of traffic, pierced with the horns of the ever-so-patient bus and taxi drivers! But when you get to the top of the hill the hum drum all but fades away. Couple this with large grassy areas fringed with cool shady trees, it becomes a place where you could happily pass an afternoon with a picnic and some friends.
At the park entrance you will find access to toilets, and the bus stop.
Additionally, adjacent to the entrance of Jungang Park, is the Democracy Park, an interesting modern edifice dedicated to key events in the history of democracy of South Korea.
Directions: The simplest way to get to the park is by bus from Busan Station. Take bus No. 38, 43, 70, 190 right up to the park entrance. Alternatively you can walk either from the Jungang side, or the Daesindong side. It doesn’t take too long (20-30 min) and the incline is not too steep. Bring your own snacks and water though, as there doesn’t appear to be much in the way of vendors for such things up there.