I grew up in a small village in my country, and the only films we watched were Korean films. With only one television for the entire village, we watched every Tuesday and Thursday. The city of Busan is often depicted in the film as a place I have always wanted to visit but didn’t realize it was possible until now. For two days, we had the opportunity to visit Busan as part of the KU Summer Teanabroad program. I did not know what to expect, except the fact that I heard from my friend: that Busan is the second largest city in South Korea, that the Busan dialect can sound more aggressive, and that there is a nice beach there. During my time in Busan, I learned that Busan is just as rich culturally as the city of Seoul, but I also experienced the friendly nature of the Busan people, which was something I may not have expected but certainly appreciated.
The only United Nations Memorial Cemetery in the world is in the city of Busan (UNMCK, 2021). I got to see the gravestones in person, and it was a very sobering experience. Apparently, the gravestones were arranged in 22 separate places according to the nationalities of the deceased members of service (Clark, 1996, p. 78). After watching a short documentary highlighting this point, I was touched to see how unified human beings can be. I wish it didn’t have to be in the context of war, but it was touching still.
I think going to the Jagalchi Market instilled a sense of community in me. For one, I immediately felt a bit sorry for the street vendors, especially the hardworking ajummas, as they are addressed here in Korea because I felt like they would have had a hard time sitting or standing outside all day waiting for customers. My friend was always making it a point to say hello to them, which I thought was a little bit over the top at first but later came to appreciate it. The respect for elders is definitely different here in Korea from the United States, and I appreciate that as well.
I learned beforehand and during my trip that Busan is a huge port city. The sights of the ports overwhelmed me, to be honest. I was not aware of how close Russia is to Korea, but I later learned that Russia is very close to North Korea (CIA World Factbook, 2020), which I guess would make sense, given Russia’s influence on North Korea’s society and ideology. It was nice to be close to the ocean and see the lighthouses and ships; it was definitely not a sight I see regularly back at home.
Overall, I am grateful that I got a chance to go to Busan. It was a lot of walking, which was not easy! But I learned so much and experienced the friendly beautiful culture of Busan, for which I will always be grateful.
CIA. (2020). “Korea, North.” CIA World Factbook. https://www.cia.gov/the-world-factbook/countries/korea-north/
Clark, DN. (1996). “Part III: Smaller Foreign Cemeterkes in the Provinces.“ The Seoul Foreigners’ Cemetery at Yanghwajin. Seoul, Korea: Seoul Union Church.
UNMCK. (2021). “United Nations Memorial Cemetery,