Two Days in Busan

To only see Seoul on a Korean vacation is an absurd task. Like an all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue, you simply can’t experience all the city has to offer in the unfortunately short time you have. (And, also like the barbecue, you leave feeling bloated and confused, wondering where all your money went.)

Enter Busan. Busan is Korea’s second city: its Los Angeles, Lyon or Montreal, sitting on the southeast coast of the Pacific. There are five mountain ranges, six sunny beaches and noticeably few worthwhile touristy spots. This is nice. It means that, as a visitor, you can go to the country’s largest markets and be surrounded by locals who are there to actually shop; climb a mountain and you’ll be surrounded by Korean hikers. From a tourist’s perspective, it’s humbling.

I am, of course, biased, having lived in Busan for nearly two years and having visited Seoul precisely thrice. To be honest they’re both beautiful, graceful and bustling metropolises—but, as with any city that’s not the country’s largest, Busan just feels cozier. This two-day itinerary is meant to reflect that.

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A full two-day guide for GoMad Nomad – go on! Read it!

Miracle on the Han(ukkah) River

Jay and Keum-won Kronish were looking for flights out of Korea when the Israeli ambassador called. There was a problem, he told them. Keum-won knew immediately what was wrong—the ambassador had asked her, a Korean native and American resident who’d retired in Israel, to find someone in Busan to lead the city’s first Israeli cultural center. And she had done this—two years ago. Unfortunately, the person she recruited for the position had backed out, leaving the ambassador with a headless operation and many gears already in motion. So he asked her, flat-out, over the phone: Why don’t you and your husband do it?

Jay Kronish, now sitting in the newly-minted Israel House in the Centum City district of Busan, shakes his head in disbelief. “And my wife said yes.”

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“Somebody asked me, ‘How many Jews are there in Busan?’” Kronish recalls. “I said, uh… four? I dunno!”

Dude ran around Jerusalem to create a sort-of museum, saw Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech, then made the first Holocaust Museum in East Asia. For the full interview and story, look no further than Busan Haps

FROM MOVIEGOER TO MOVIEMAKER

CHRIS CIOSK MADE his first film in grade 7. It was for history class. The night before it was due, Ciosk was eager to work in any medium not involving double-spaced lined paper, so he grabbed a camera, enlisted his father and sister, and filmed a reenactment of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham—a bloody territorial fight between the French and British in Quebec circa 1759—with Beanie Babies.

He claims he got 100 percent.

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“You just walk out of this dull, dull, dull, dull day in Korea. Just dull as hell. I teach the same class for like three weeks in a row, so it’s just dull. And they have a beautiful screen, you see a wonderful movie, and you completely forget that you’re in Korea.”

A profile for Haps. At least, writing about people doing things!