This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit Busan, a city at the southern tip of the Korean Peninsula along with fellow CIEE Seoul participants for our mid-semester excursion. The excursion aligned with the 24th Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) and CIEE provided us with ticket vouchers to see any 2 films of our choice, allowing everyone a chance to experience a major international film festival!
While Busan is only a 3-hour train ride from Seoul, in some ways it felt a lifetime away. Busan is by no means a small city, as it boasts a population of nearly 3.5 million, but the city is much less dense and not as bustling as Seoul. The locals were as warm and friendly as the Haeundae beach on a sunny day and took great care of us the entire weekend. Busan was a nice change of pace from the hustle and bustle of Seoul life and came as a great opportunity to experience a different part of Korea. As a port city, Busan is an excellent place to get fresh seafood, see the ocean, and maybe pick up some Busan satoori (dialect).
I put my BIFF vouchers to good use with my friend Natalie as we screened 2 independent Korean films, Ruby and Way Back Home, both of which were very moving and thought-provoking. Although I consider myself a casual film watcher, I could appreciate the artistry behind the films and felt grateful for the opportunity to experience a different side of South Korea's bustling film industry.
In addition to the film festival activities, my friends and I also shopped at the Shinsegae Department Store (which is the largest department store in the world) and explored local markets where we tried a variety of foods and browsed local shops.
Overall, my time in Busan was an absolute joy and I believe it is a must-see city for those planning to travel in Korea.
Until next time!