Nov 242013

An oldie but goodie…


Busan Awesome's Christmas Gift Ideas by Melissa Tait

So, it’s that time of year again. And by that time of the year I mean the time you feel a little guilty and sad because you’re off globetrotting while all your friends and family are celebrating Christmas in your home town. So, should you send presents home? I say yes, mainly because I enjoy shopping and finding fun, silly things for friends back home. That said, I have a low tolerance for spending money on excess postage, so I’m always on the lookout for presents that pack and send well. Here are some of my recommendations. I’d love to hear yours too!

1) Socks! They are awesome and cheap here. And most of your friends and family have feet. These are light to pack and send, and can be worn though out the year. Available from every second shop and street vendor in Korea.

2) Couple underwear sets. Do you have a friend/family member who recently became engaged or married? These romantic sets will add a slice of humour to the bedroom. These are a little more expensive and aren’t available in all sizes, but take the courage to get into an underwear shop and have a look to find the most hilarious set you can find. It will be appreciated back home.

3) Small, plastic things from Daiso. I love Daiso and the crazy small plastic things that you can get there. From carrot-shaped food clips to plastic containers for toothbrushes, everything they have amuses me. Plus, they are lightweight and can be sent home. They might not last forever but they will get a chuckle from your friends and family back home.

4) Key chains/phone accessories. These are great stocking fillers and normally go for W1,000 – W2,000. I particularly like the key chain which is a small soju bottle. Classy. These are very small and fun, and have the extra bonus of your friends are able to show them off everywhere they go. Available from all phone shops and places where small, sparkly accessories are found.

5) Stationary! I’m not sure about the availability of stationary in America or Canada, but in Australia they just don’t have the awesome notebooks and letter sets you get here. Also, they are incredibly cheap and flat to send. I recommend going into your nearest Artbox and having a look through the range of adorable notebooks and things available. You will find one to suit your writerly friends.

So, these are my recommendations. I’ve stayed away from things that are harder to send, but would love to hear your recommendations!

Oct 042013

Busan Fireworks Festival is coming up on Oct 25-26.
Classic article, from the Busan Awesome vault…


Having moved to Korea, my most difficult adjustment was getting used to the crowds. Sure, the food was a change of pace.  Of course, the daily games of charades necessary to convey specific meanings required some practice.  But battling through the disorganized hordes at Costco, having to punch and kick my way to that 6 pound block of sharp cheddar cheese nearly drove me insane.  After a year and half of Saturday nights partying in Hongdae followed by Sunday afternoons shopping in Gangnam, I thought I finally knew what was up.  Sadly, nothing could prepare me for Gwangalli beach during the Busan Fireworks Festival.

I’d heard the warnings.  Students and  co-teachers cautioned of the ridiculous crowds.  Still my friends and I decided to go for it.  We arrived around 2:00PM and chose a nice spot in front of a large speaker system. We figured that we would at least be protected from crowds walking behind us if our backs were against the speakers.  Still having six hours until the first firework was to be shot, we relaxed and broke into our sizable stocks of beer and soju.

For the first few hours the mobs massed slowly.  Almost imperceptibly.  A family here.  A group of teenagers there.  The beach began to fill as it would on any of the warm summer days when it was open for swimming.  There we sat, swigging down our Hite pitchers with reckless abandon, unaware of the hell that was about to descend upon us.

At 6pm they came.  They charged onto Gwangalli beach like an invading army.  As in an epic battle scene, where two opposing armies rush full speed into one another, they were seemingly trying to break through our lines and make it to the water.  Failing this, they just packed into any little space that was available and sat down.

By 6:15, the beach was filled.  I made what would prove to be my last easy trip to the bathroom.  Already it was nearly impossible getting through the crowd to ascend the steps off of the beach.  I waited about twenty-five minutes in line at a random fish restaurant that had been relegated into public restroom-hood.  During this time, the entire street behind Gwangalli beach had filled nearly to capacity as well.  It was a chore trying to weave through and find my friends again, even with over an hour to go before the fireworks.

Upon returning, I made the regrettable decision to continue drinking.  Despite the lack of room, people continued to crowd the beach.  Our seating plan backfired.  The speaker became part of a major migration route in spite of our attempts to sit with our backs to it.  Without that path, people just chose to walk over us until we relented and moved a few inches forward.  Our blanket, likewise, became communal property. Stray family members made room. People walked across it.  One particular loner or lost soul just plopped right down, practically in my lap, to enjoy the fireworks.

The fireworks began.  They were amazing.  I cheered and took a lot of pictures.  Pictures of fireworks.  Pictures of cute kids looking at fireworks.  Even pictures of people taking pictures of fireworks because I’m meta like that.  Unfortunately, as my awe grew greater, so did my alcohol consumption, which subsequently increased my need to pee as soon as possible.

It reached crisis level about forty minutes into the display. Something had to be done.  Earlier I’d witnessed that bizarre Korean phenomenon of a child peeing into a bottle being held by his mother/grandmother, which was tempting.   I was on the verge of  just climbing under the speaker system and peeing into a bottle, when another friend stated that she absolutely had to go to the bathroom immediately.  There was a good twenty minutes of fireworks left, so we decided to venture back into the street, in search of a bathroom.  I should have opted for the bottle.

The steps presented the biggest challenge.  There was literally not a single free spot on which to step up.  At first I was trying to be polite about it.  Kindly smiling  in hopes that someone would move aside.  That failed, so I thought I might be able to step over the first group.  While I got one leg over them, the second couldn’t quite clear them.  I fell face-first while accidentally kicking the  people I’d tried to step over.  I went down hard, but luckily there were plenty of people to cushion my fall.  It took all my effort to not void my bladder right then.  At that point I wisely opted for speed over civility. I scrambled on or around people until I reached the top.  Unfortunately the road was every bit as crowded as the beach.

I joined in a mob that seemed to be pushing its way away from the beach area.  I followed hoping for a quick exit, but this was a slow moving mob, and I noticed that the people behind me, instead of assisting the group effort, were just shoving  by me.  I decided to start pushing.  I’m a pretty big guy and I can push hard.  This turned out to be the best  plan. Ten minutes and fifteen meters later I was at the fish restaurant bathroom.  Amazingly there was no line.  I entered and took the most glorious pee I’ve ever experienced.

Upon leaving the bathroom, there was clearly no chance of making it back to the beach.  There were people as far as you could see, both toward the beach and back down the alley.  Back on the street, the grand finale was in full force.  It was pretty amazing.  Lots of booms and crashes and shiny lights.  Eventually the fireworks ended and the massive crowd dispersed, but my painful memories and possible kidney damage will live on forever.

The lesson I learned was never to underestimate a crowd in Korea.  If Korean people are saying it’s too crowded, then it’s really freaking crowded.  Also, always use good judgement and temperance where potential bathroom shortages may arise.

Aug 162013

sharkys restaurant busan gwangalli jangsanSharky’s has the most American feel of any of the expat bars in Busan.  It’s the only place where I literally forget that I’m in Korea from time to time (although that could be the drinking as much as the atmosphere.)  While you’re in that fairly small space, you can’t help but feel back at home for better or worse.  There’s usually replays (or live) of whatever seasonal American sports are going on.  They’ve got darts, foosball, and shuffleboard which I absolutely love.  There’s also a nice selection of board games at both locations, including trivial pursuit. Games are constantly being updated, so check in and check often!

The food is really good too – probably the best western food in the city!  There are always specials, and you can check them out on the Sharky’s Gwangalli Facebook Page (or Sharky’s Haeundae). Check out their website too.

Drinks are pretty cheap.  Beer is 3,000 won.  Mixed drinks are reasonably priced as well.  The crowd is hit or miss.  I’ve been there on Saturdays when it was empty and I’ve been there on Tuesdays when it was packed.  It does seem to be more of a guys hangout, but there are usually a few ladies as well.  The location right on Haeundae beach is great.  You can get hammered and reenact your favorite scenes from The Karate Kid right out front.  Then shoot off some fireworks.  Then fall over and pass out. There is a newer location (but still – not THAT new) on Gwangalli Beach right next to the Starbucks.

sharkys busan jangsan gwangalliIt’s not a place I get to go to too often, but when you feel the need to briefly escape back to America, watch some sports, eat some great food, and have fun, Sharky’s is the place to go. PS, it’s ranked number 1 on TripAdvisor for restaurants in Busan!

HAEUNDAE Directions: Metro line 2 (green) to Haeundae, exit 3. Walk all the way down to the beach’s ‘boardwalk’ and turn left.  Sharky’s is near the end of Haeundae beach, in the Pale de CZ building.  It’s on the second floor of the side where Gecko’s is.  Look for signs as you go through.

GWANGALLI Directions: Metro line 2 (green) to Geumyeonsan, exit 2. Walk straight down to the beach. Sharky’s is on the right-corner, next to Starbucks. 

sharkys busan jangsan gwangalli

sharkys busan jangsan gwangalli

Feb 242013

Hey guys,

There was a US tax article on our site written by a writer outside of Busan Awesome, and we cannot claim whether the tax advice given was legit or not. We claim no responsibility for incorrectly done taxes, and you should definitely consult a tax professional before deciding how to file and how to do your taxes. I believe under US tax law, you do owe something, but I know this is a contentious subject.


Jan 312013


CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE FLIER!!! Zumba Flash Mob!If you have ever wanted to be a part of a flash mob or try Zumba now is your time to do both!

Callie Wambui has been teaching Zumba in the Busan area for the past few months. When she realized that many of the participates were going to be leaving in February she decided that she would do something big, something phenomenal as a goodbye gift.  A Zumba flash mob!

Normally Zumba classes meet on Mondays, Wednesdays at 6:45 pm and every other Saturday at 1 in Seomyeon. The classes are always packed and full of energy. But on Saturday February 2 2013 affiliates will be putting together a flash mob of 2 Zumba songs in different locations throughout the city.

Check out the Facebook Event Page for the Flash Mob!!!


What is a flash mob?

A flash mob is where many people get together and perform a choreographed dance in public!

But I cant Dance!

Neither can we!

How will I know what the dances are?

Callie and a few friends posted the links to each one on Youtube, if you have Internet and some free time, it’s easy to participate!



Do I have to learn the dances before I come?

Not at all, Zumba is easy to catch on to, and since they will be “flashmobing” different locations so its easy to pick up on it 

Wow those people are really coordinated! Will I be able to figure it out?

Yes! Zumba is meant to be repetitive, so people can catch on easy! Once you get the basic moves down, there is no stopping you.

But what exactly is a Zumba?

Zumba is described as a Latin-inspired, easy to follow, calorie burning, dance fitness party! The more fun you have with it, the more fun you will have!

So it’s for girls?

It’s for EVERYONE!

Jan 072013

*This restaurant has no affiliation with Farmers Burgers in Nampo*



You don’t have to go far to find western food in Korea. Hamburgers, Spaghetti and Fried chicken are in every area and in great abundance, that is if you know where to look. Though when going out with friends for western food a group can be pulled in many different directions depending on what major cravings individuals have that week.

Farmers in the PNU area provides westerners with the convenience of not having to chose between burgers or Italian. It is the perfect combination of both and beyond delicious.

Located 2 blocks away from the main gates of PNU on the second floor, the restaurant provides a small but laid back atmosphere. The restaurant is frequented more by locals than anything else, but is happy for any foreigners that walk in the door.

farmers-intThe menu is easy to read (everything is in English) but does not provide many descriptions based off that. The hamburger options already come with fries and your choice of cola, cider, coffee or orange juice. A burger can cost you anywhere from 7,000-10,000 depending what you want on it. (And yes, they even have a bacon burger…)

These burgers are not for the small mouthed, they come loaded and impossible to pick up and eat. Lucky there are forks and knives provided for those of us who are not the most graceful of eaters.

While I have not directly ordered the Italian, I was lucky enough to try my friend’s, and it was pickle free. Though the fondness of pickles in Italian food is endearing at times, the lack of tang in the sauce was enjoyable.

The best part about Farmers, are the fries. Seasoned fries that are rare to find in America are their potato of choice. Deliciously crispy on the outside with soft warm middles and a slight kick to their spice will cheer up even the most grumpy of cats. I would eat the fries all day if I could but I am glad they portion them out in to a manageable size.

farmers-frontHow do you find Farmers?
The easiest way is to go to the main gates of PNU that are up the main road (take exit 3 out of the orange metro line). Take a Right down the little street (be weary of cars) Walk past the NC and parking for the NC, after two blocks the street ends in a T with a coffee shop that is called “Jasmine Coffee” right in front of you. Take a right down that street and Farmers is on the second floor halfway down the block. The sign is in English and is black letters on a white background.

View Feeling Latin Studio in a larger map

Dec 212012


During the day, Lzone Language Cafe might seem an unassuming, fourth-floor coffee vendor with an uncommonly high concentration of foreigners.  If you were to hang out long enough, you’d realize that you weren’t just in a cafe, but a language school as well, albeit a very chill one, run on volunteer labor.  About the same time you might be approached by a Korean who would likely engage you in English conversation.  This would be all according to plan.  So if you want somewhere to hang out and maybe pick up a little bit of Korean or whatever other language the volunteers may speak, Lzone wouldn’t be a bad place to do it.

If you’re hanging out in Kyungsung on a Friday or Saturday evening looking for a party you might want to check out Lzone.  Starting at 8:30 you can head up for a sort of international mixer where Koreans and Foreigners alike come together for good times and a lot of booze.  For those interested in getting seriously down, unlimited beer and mixed drinks only costs 10,000KRW.  For only 5,000, you can get all of your favorite standard mixed drinks minus the booze (soft drinks, they’re called).  After you’ve grabbed your drink, you can play pool, darts and fooseball or just hang out with people from all corners of the world.  The party ends at 12:30 so there’ll be plenty of time afterwards to go dancing with your new Korean/Mexican/Italian/Chinese (etc.) friends.

From exit 3 of the Kyungdae subway stop (green line) go to the large intersection and turn left.  Go down two blocks and then make another left.  About halfway down the street, on the right you’ll find Lzone up on the 4th floor.

View Kyungsung Area in a larger map

Dec 062012


Songjeong Beach, Busan

The Galmaetgil 갈맷길 trails are one of the best ideas Busan has ever had. They are hiking trails that span all over the city and take you to all the best views and sights that this varied city has to offer. The only catch is that they are pretty tricky to find, and so far the only maps provided (for trails 2 and 3) are vague at best.

So it was with high hopes and keen feet that we embarked on our second mission (after a failed first attempt) to find the trail from Seongjeong beach to Haedong Yonggungsa. Luckily for me, my companions were much better at spotting potential paths than I am.

Hike from Songjeong Beach to Haedong Yonggungsa Water Temple       Hike from Songjeong Beach to Haedong Yonggungsa Water Temple

The hike takes you around the cost from Seongjeong harbor, through some cute little fishing spots and an old fishing village. It is an excellent chance to see another side of Busan, one well away from smartphones and subways. This first bit is a little tricky to navigate, but soon after you begin the walk, you are directed the rest of the way by the cutest little trail markers on the streets and in the trees.

Hike from Songjeong Beach to Haedong Yonggungsa Water Temple

[also check out:]
Songjeong Beach
Haedong Yonggungsa Water Temple
Hike from Jangsan to Songjeong Beach 

After the fishing village, the walk takes you over a construction site, Busan is always building, and then you reach the real gem of the walk. The path winds through woodland, but you stay right on the edge of the coast, with the cliffs nearly crumbling away from you in some places, so watch your step. It’s at this point in the walk you might just want to let someone else know whereabouts you are. I had a terrifying thought of ‘if we all fall off here, how long would it take someone to find us’… The path is pretty deserted once you get into the forest itself. It’s a really refreshing change from the crowds of Seomyeon and Nampo-dong.

Hike from Songjeong Beach to Haedong Yonggungsa Water TempleFurther around the woodland, keep an eye out to the right, and not just for trip hazards. There are three lookout posts, or what I assume to be. They are just abandoned there, in near enough the same condition they were originally used in I think. The razor wire still surrounds them, and the posts themselves are still intact, a crescent shaped dugout, which you can stand or sit in. I tried to get some information from my co-teachers about the origin of these, and amidst a lot of confusion, I think they said that the Americans built them. Who knows.

The entire walk takes  about 45 minutes to an hour, and it’s slightly terrifying when you reach the temple walls and then the barred gate into the temple grounds. There was no way I was going all the way back and around. Luckily we soon spotted the way, to your left there is a stone gutter on the hill, just after that, on the left is a slightly overgrown dirt path, complete with trail markers, leading up into the hill. Follow that and you will come to the entrance of the temple.

The walk is well worth the effort I think. Plus, it’s a nice break from that packed bus to and from the temple. You could spend the day at the beach at Seongjeong before or after your temple visit, though I highly recommend going as early as possible to the temple, especially on a weekend or holiday as, quite rightly, it’s really popular.

Beautiful water temple, Haedong Yonggungsa, BusanDirections:

Take the 181 bus from Haeundae Beach Station (out of exit 7, straight on 10 yards to the bus stop). Get off at the 송정해수욕장 Songjeong Haesu-yookjang stop. Walk straight until you reach the harbour. Directly in front of you should be the harbor, and to your left is a small bridge that is bordered on the right side by concrete wave breakers .

Or from Seongjeong beach, as you are looking at the beach, turn left and walk up the road until you reach the small bridge with the concrete wave breakers on the right hand side.

From the bridge, walk straight by the road, (a little tricky in places as the sidewalk is only half built). You can walk onto the small island to your right from here, and watch the locals fishing, continue around the island and you should be able to see another harbor on the other side. Aim for that, picking your path carefully as you go. Once you get to the strange metal fish house on the right side of the harbor, that is the beginning of the Galmaetgil trail, or at least the beginning as we found it. From here, the way is pretty much marked for you with the trail markers, on the sidewalk they are spray-painted on, and follow the paved path around the harbor, and then the path taking you round a small headland to the left of the harbor. Part of the walk just before you get to the woodland is across a really dodgy looking construction site, I think they are putting in some sort of tunnel.  Just keep heading across that to the forest and from there it’s easy.

To do the walk in reverse, find the tall pagoda statue just before the archway leading down the steps to the temple. Facing away from the temple there is a huge sign and the path is right in front of you there (sounds obvious but we missed it on our first visit).

{Check out Laura’s blog, Long Way Round in Busan}

Nov 272012

On Friday December 7th, The Wolfhound will play host to a night of hot music and smooth moves all in the name of a fantastic cause. Hosted by Levy Solomon, one of Busan’s first Zumba instructors, the events begins at 9pm with an hour of non-stop Zumba and will be followed by a night of free dancing…with the occasional Zumba rhythms and routines thrown in, of course. There are also great prizes to be won to keep you dancing all night long!

Combining dance and aerobic elements and set to Latin and hip-hop rhythms, Zumba offers a fun, unique fitness experience for all ages and abilities. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or an absolute novice you’re still guaranteed a great workout, as how many calories you burn is completely down to you and how hard you can shake it! We’d love to see as many new faces as possible at the Fundraiser, so if you’ve ever wondered about getting fit the Zumba way, now’s your chance to try it out and join the party!

All proceeds received will be donated to the Pangasinan Association Medical Mission, a collective working throughout various towns in the Philippines to provide free medical procedures for those in need. Your entrance fee alone will help them to treat ten patients per day for five days, so please consider coming along and letting your dancing make a difference.

When? 9pm – December 7th

Where? The Wolfhound, Haeundae

Cost? 10,000 entrance (charity donation)

What Should I Wear?  Anything you can move and SHAKE in!

Additional Information: Regular Zumba classes are held twice a week in Seomyeon and cost 5,000 won for a 60 minute class. Please see the ‘Busan Zumba’ Facebook group for details or visit http://levysolomon.zumba.com/


Nov 192012


***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.

The Food

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.

A feast in Deokcheon

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