Victor Leung
Victor Leung
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Survival tips for non-Korean speakers in Busan and vicinity

April 12, 2015

Aluum-dabbed! This is how Koreans say "lovely." Koreans use this expression to describe the beautiful scenery of Busan, Gyeongju, and Jinhae, especially in the spring, when the cherry blossoms are in bloom.


Who doesn't enjoy travelling? Korea is one of those undiscovered nations where most visitors travel no further than Seoul. In the meanwhile, everyone has their priorities and travel preferences. And you're all familiar with me, right? I enjoy spontaneous travel because it allows me to get away from my regularly scheduled job life. It's a lot more exciting and hard to put yourself in a situation where you don't know the way, speak the language, and have internet connectivity on your iPhone. I dare to step outside of my comfort zone and face a new challenge.

Here are some of my Busan survival advice for non-Korean speakers.

Make new acquaintances in your neighbourhood - I met a savvy businessman, an amazing doctor, and a charming ajumma (Korean auntie) while staying in a guesthouse rather than a hotel. True, I can't communicate with the folks who do not speak English because of my limited Korean language skills. However, since nonverbal communication accounts for two-thirds of all human communication, a friendly smile and a warm welcome are universal, so don't be shy! We talked and showed images to each other for the entire afternoon. Koreans have an uncanny ability to make strangers into friends. They're courteous and nice, but most importantly, they're the kindest individuals I've ever met. To stay in touch, download the Kakao Talk app:)


First, a high-level overview - Get a sense of the city before jumping in and getting lost on every single street when you travel. The 120-meter-high Busan Tower dominates the cityscape. It's a delight to sit there and look out at the beautiful city. You'll have a spectacular 360-degree view of Busan from the top deck, including the magnificent Gwangan Bridge. I promise you'll enjoy it!


Relax and enjoy yourself - To say something is extraordinary is an understatement. Haeundae Beach is one of those places where the breathtaking ocean takes your breath away from the instant you see it. You'll see Oryukdo Island, which translates to "five-six islands": there are six islands, but only five surfaces during high tide. There is an aquarium and APEC Naru Park along the road. Are you fed up with walking? Visit TwoSome Place, Tom n Tom, or Caffeine Gurunaru, for example. Also, visit the lovely SpaLand centum city, located on the bottom level of Shinsegae, the world's largest department store. These magical locations are ideal for rediscovering oneself and experiencing complete relaxation.


Maintain an open mind - Busan's tourist attractions aren't the only things that attract visitors; merely wandering down the streets will give you a sense of what makes this city so special and unique. The city's huge marketplaces, which sell everything from pig guts to pancakes, offer a modern-day blend of Korean heritage and modernity. If you're ever in the mood for some wonderful street cuisine, the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) square is the perfect place to go. Aside from that, I'm addicted to the Seomyeon subterranean retail mall and the bustling neighbourhood near Nampo station. The Jagalchi fish market, Korea's most well-known and largest seafood market, will also provide a feast.


Continue to study the culture - Gyeongju, located north of Busan, was the capital of the Silla dynasty for approximately a thousand years. With grassy burial monuments for the various kings and queens that ruled, it is a heritage area. Bulguksa is at the top of most tourists' to-do lists. For only 4,000 won, you can enter the highly renowned World Heritage List temple as one of the most beautiful, must view destinations in the world.


Let the breathtaking scenery carry you away - Jinhae-gu, west of Busan, is known for its ten-day cherry blossom festival every spring; a strange mix of street entertainers and carnival vendors, its 1.5-kilometre flower streams are one of the must-see sights before you die. I eventually persuaded myself to visit after hearing so many of my friends extol the virtues of this location. My jaw drops when the wind blows, and the petals fall. It's weird and romantic, so don't be surprised if you see a lot of couples holding hands.


Now, grab your passport and my hand because Busan can make you feel like you're in the mood for a weekend getaway. Hopefully, this article has inspired you to visit Korea and immerse yourself in the culture! Let's be honest: my body has returned to work in the office, but my soul remains in Korea. Add me to your list of potential travel companions, even if we're hundreds of miles apart. I’m happy to discover additional gorgeous spots and blow your head. Korean expression of thank you very much: Kamsa-Hamnida.

About Victor Leung

Software development professional with expertise in application architecture, cloud solutions deployment, and financial products development. Possess a Master's degree in Computer Science and an MBA in Finance. Highly skilled in AWS (Certified Solutions Architect, Developer and SysOps Administrator), GCP (Professional Cloud Architect), Microsoft Azure, Kubernetes(CKA, CKAD, CKS, KCNA), and Scrum(PSM, PSPO) methodologies.

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