Busan Map
Site Index
Contact
Random
Our Travel Books
Advertising / Press

Busan’s Chinatown – Shanghai Street

Book Your Cheap Flight To Korea Here

Straight across from Busan Station, a traditional Chinese-style gate welcomes you into Shanghai Street — the nexus of the city’s Chinatown. We visited this hectic and very un-Korean neighborhood during its annual celebration.

Chinatown Korea

The Chinese and Koreans have had a rocky relationship since long before the founding of either nation, but the contemporary Chinese presence in Busan only dates from 1884, when the city officially established diplomatic ties with Shanghai. A Chinese school and a consulate were established in the present-day Shanghai Street, which resulted in a number of Chinese settling here permanently.

A couple months ago, I would have never been able to tell the difference between a Chinese and Korean street, but now it was immediately clear. As soon as we passed through the Shanghai Gate, we found the street signs and restaurant names written in bewildering Chinese instead of the simple Korean characters we’ve learned to recognize. And mixed in among the Koreans wandering the neighborhood and partaking in the festivities was a noteworthy number of… Russians?!

Yes, even more so than the Chinese, it’s the Russians who now inhabit this area most prominently, particularly along a specific strip of Chinatown known as Texas Street. The name comes from the days when US soldiers used to prowl the neighborhood in search of cheap booze and cheaper sex. The Americans are now gone, and Texas Street has been thoroughly Russified, with advertisements for vodka visible among the numerous sex dens. I’m glad we were walking around the neighborhood during the day, as it can get pretty seedy and dangerous at night.

Russians on Texas Street in a Korean Chinatown. It couldn’t get much more internationally jumbled than that, unless they were all wearing lederhosen and eating burritos.

Because of the rain, we didn’t stick around the festival for long; just enough to catch the end of a musical performance, and the beginning of that ancient and revered Chinese ritual of noodle-speed-eating. This was fun, especially when one of the contestants began laughing uncontrollably, shooting noodles out her mouth and nose, all over the table. She didn’t win.

Location of the Shanghai Gate on our Map
-For 91 Days Google Plus Page

Dragon Alley Busan
Chinatown Busan Festival
Street Stop
Chinese High Five
Chinese Statue
China Town Lantern
Dragon Fight
Umbrella Party
Teaching Chinese
China Juice
Chinese Fish
Chinese-Dumplings-in-Busan
Steams Baskets
Tiger Dumpling
Cute-Cartoon-Korea
Dorky Chinese
Cute Chinese Korean
Korean-Dog-Owner
Moon Cake Lady
Sneaky Signal
Take Picture
Korean Veteran
No Arms Man Korea
Korean Beagle
Lion Face
Russion and Korean
Russians in Busan
Rainy Russain
Russian Cafe
Noodle Puking Contest
Noodle Puke

, , , , , , , , , , ,
July 2, 2012 at 12:36 am Comments (2)

Samgwangsa Under a Blanket of Lanterns

Learn Korean

Set at the foot of the Baegyangsan Mountain in central Busan, Samgwangsa is a massive temple with enough room for 10,000 worshipers. And there were approximately that many present when we visited on a balmy May evening shortly before Buddha’s birthday.

Korea Blog

We had initially toured Samgwangsa a few weeks earlier, while the lanterns were still being set up. It was the first Buddhist temple we’d been to in Korea and impressed us with both its size and location. As was the case in Sri Lanka, Korean temples seem to be set in places of extreme natural beauty. Samgwangsa boasts an incredible view over Busan, and hiking trails can be found in the mountain forest behind it.

Built in 1969, Samgwangsa is not the most ancient or traditional of temples, but that doesn’t make it any less inspiring. The main prayer hall is stunning; large and intricately decorated with hundreds of small Buddha statues lining the walls. There’s a nine-story pagoda dedicated to the future reunification of Korea, and a giant bell in the courtyard. Within the complex’s various buildings, men and women were either worshiping or working. I’m not sure if this is true, but Samgwangsa seems to house a large number of senior citizens; we passed a few rooms with older women sitting cross-legged on the floor watching TV.

I’m glad we had the initial visit, because the temple was unrecognizable when we returned during the lantern festival, buried under a blanket of light. The lanterns, strung up in unbroken lines throughout the complex are each paid for by a family, who get to write their names and wishes on them. This practice dates back centuries; in Korea, lighting a lantern symbolizes a dedication to committing good deeds, and shining a light on the world’s darkness. Whatever the reasoning, the glow emitted from thousands of colorful lanterns is majestic.

Location on our Busan Map
-Cheap Flights To Korea

Samgwangsa
Korea Tradition
Buddha Box
Buddha Lottery
Virgin Temple
Buddha Sign
Dragon Art
Busan At Night
Samgwangsa-Lantern-Temple
Visit Busan
Busan 2012
Busan Travel Guide
Night Walk Busan
Red Lantern
Photographer in Korea
Busan-Korean-Photographer
Busan Blog
Dragon-Festival-Busan
Dragon Fight
For-91-Days-in-Busan
Fruit Lantern
Korea Travel Blog
Tigger Korea
Festivals in Korea
Korean Buddha Offering
Stretch Photographer
Korea-Portraits

, , , , , , , , , ,
May 29, 2012 at 6:44 am Comments (4)

The Lotus Lantern Parade

Order Korean Food From Amazon

Though Christianity has recently become the dominant religion in South Korea, the country had been a primarily Buddhist land for nearly all of its history. Buddha’s Birthday, which fell on May 28th in 2012, is a major celebration across the peninsula. And the week-long Lotus Lantern Festival which precedes it is an engaging reaffirmation of the country’s traditional faith.

Neon Dragon

The festival kicked off with a host of events in Yongdusan Park, in Nampo-Dong. A collection of floats were on display — automated dragons, Buddhas, fire-breathing peacocks — and the park was packed with both monks and people out looking for a bit of fun. This wasn’t the most somber or conservative of religious festivals; one of the events was a B-Boy break-dancing competition.

A group of tents in the park constituted the Arts & Crafts center and, walking past, we were immediately targeted for participation by an overly-enthusiastic volunteer. She sat us down next to kids, where we created toy lanterns. Then she grabbed our arms and led us the “ink stamping” section, where we pounded out Buddhist designs. Then she pushed us over to the “wishing ribbon” section, where we wrote down our names and our dreams for the future. “My name is Mike, and I wish for a world free from the scourge of Arts & Crafts!”

The festival-closing parade on Sunday night was a colorful event. We were surprised how few onlookers were lined up on Daechung Road to watch it pass, but then… most of the city was in the parade. Group after massive group of waving, lantern-carriers passed by, along with neon-colored float and the occasional marching band. We followed the final group up to Yongdusan Park, where there was a fireworks show followed by a concert of traditional drumming.

-The Temple of the Tooth

Lantern Festival
Korea Nature Dance
Dragon Lantern
Bunny Lantern
Tree Lantern
Lotus Making
Buddha Stamp
LOL Dragon
Korean ButterFly
Busan Blog
Lotus Lantern Busan
Drummer Lotus
Lantern Fest
Buddhist Monk Busan
Angry White Tiger
Dragon Parade Busan
Lotus Army
Steaming Buddha
Lantern Street
Busan Guide
Lonely Dragon
Fire Peacock
Busan Dragon
Busan Laser
Extasy Busan
, , , , , , , , ,
May 26, 2012 at 3:05 am Comments (0)