Annyeonghi Gyeseyo, Busan!

Another 91 days has reached its conclusion and, as always, we’re shocked by how fast the time has flown by. Busan was an exciting, fascinating, foreign home to us, and though we’re excited to get back to the states and visit family before starting on our next adventure, we find ourselves sad to say goodbye.

Usually, by the end of three months in a new city, we feel as though we truly understand what makes it tick. Maybe we’re not experts, but just by spending so much time around the people, their food, history, music and nightlife, we have a good idea of what it’s about. That sense of familiarity, though, is not so strong after three months in Busan. I have a feeling we could spend three years here, and still not fully “get” the culture.

And that’s despite the fact that there are a lot of things about life in Korea that we’re instantly comfortable with. Baseball. Gadgets. Fast food. Pop music. Hiking and beaches (the things for which Busan is particularly well-known) require no special introduction. But as familiar as some things are, we’re never able to ignore how different the culture truly is. Like: we’d be at a baseball game but, instead of hot dogs, the family in front of us is munching silk worm larvae.

And strangely, Busan will endure in our memories as the place where we were treated the least like tourists. I don’t mean that we blend in at all — certainly not. But there’s a prominent population of foreigners who live here: English teachers, who number in the hundreds. And there’s no tourism to speak of. So when you see a white guy walking down the street, you can be 98% certain that he’s a local. Almost daily, someone would ask me which school I taught in. As soon as we arrived, we belonged to this “community”, even though we had absolutely nothing to do with it.

So, there’s a weird dynamic here. We’re visitors, but treated as locals. We’re familiar with some aspects of the culture, but mystified by others. We’re welcomed as guests by the community at large, but could we ever really be fully accepted into Korean society? Doubtful.

On the whole, we’re ready to get moving. We’ve had some unforgettable experiences in Busan, and made some wonderful friends. And we’ve fallen in love with the food! Bibimbap, kimchi, galbi, patbingsu, ???. Yum. Oh, and that last food-item? We’re not just showing off there. It’s pronounced “Mulmilmyeon”, which is so ridiculous that it’s easier for us to recognize its characters and point, than dare pronounce it. Turns out that written Hangul isn’t all that hard to master, and we’ve had a lot of fun familiarizing ourselves with the language.

Somehow, I doubt my skills in Hangul are going to help much in our new temporary home: Idaho, in the great American West. It’s a state twice the size of South Korea, with 30 times fewer people. Nature, parks, rivers, cowboys, Indians and wide open spaces await us… it’s going to be a radically different experience to living in an Asian metropolis like Busan. If you’d like to follow us on this new adventure, make sure to keep your eye on our Twitter and Facebook accounts, or subscribe to our RSS Feed.

This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. Adam Behrman

    Hey guys,I have loved reading about your adventures in Busan. I am excited about your next destination because I call Idaho home! I do the weather at a local TV station in Boise and if you need any suggestions about places to visit, feel free to ask! Happy trails!-Adam Behrman

  2. Dani

    Can’t believe that another 91 days are over already! You guys have covered so much of Busan, and I learned a lot of things that I had no idea about (the best and worst of K-pop for example 😉 ) Idaho will be quite different I guess – looking forward to your posts from there 🙂

  3. Tatiana

    I’ve loved the Busan posts as well, and am looking forward to Idaho. I’m in Alberta, just 400 km or so away, so I’m excited to find places to explore down south. I once had the pleasure of staying in Riggins, and it was such a spectacularly scenic place that no one’s heard of, that I can only imagine what else is out there.

  4. Preemie Maboroshi

    Thanks a lot for all the cool posts, guys! I really had a great time reading your blog. I’ll keep my eyes open for your Idaho adventures.

  5. jan

    Another 91 days gone.  I am looking forward to your posts from Idaho.  I really do not know much about USA at all, but want to.

  6. Juergen

    Thank you all for the comments. We just arrived in Ohio to visit family and friends. The flight back from Busan was rough and one of the longest trips we had. 

    We are surprised about our time in Busan and can’t believe we got to discover so many amazing things there. But even more I think we surprised a lot of people from Busan, showing that the city can easily stand-up against Seoul!
  7. castro

    Hi, Juergen and Mike. A surprising good news for you. 3 Korean Olympic players from Busan won 3 gold medals in the women’s fencing sabre, the men’s Judo 90 kg weight, the women’s pistol shooting. Surprisingly enough, it happened on the same day. At the moment, Korea won 7 gold medals, the third in the world in terms of gold medal winning. video will show 3 players from Busan at the moment of gold medal winning. all of these 3 players from Busan were the unexpected players for a medal, so their gold-medal-winning is really surprising news. Esp, a Busan player in the fencing sabre semi-final  defeated the US Olympic superstar, Zagunis, who had won gold medals in the last 2 consecutive Olympics and who was a flag bearer for the US in the opening ceremony. The Busan player came from behind (6-12) and finally won the semi-final to 15-13, which was a dramatic victory.

  8. castro

    Hi, Mike. I think you must be a soccer fan. Here is an amazing news for you.  The Koreans pulled out an epic victory over Great Britain in the quarterfinal match of London Olympic soccer game. The result was 5 : 4.  They had the penalties after 1:1. The Koreans are now enjoying a big cerebration since Korea defeated Great Britain in London, the capital of Great Britain.

  9. castro  (This shows the center of Gangnam district in Seoul, which is  the epicenter of “The Korean Wave”).  Gangnam basically means the south of the Han River, where 5.6  million Seoulites of 10.5 million Seoul population are living.  Today, it’s Gangnam that might better symbolize Seoul: it’s populated by the nouveau riche and reminiscent of lower Manhattan with its towering buildings. In any case, you must see both Gangbuk(north of the Han River) and Gangnam before you claim to have seen Seoul. Those who have only stayed in Gangbuk and those who have only stayed in Gangnam will probably have very opposing things to say about their impressions of Seoul.

  10. Map

    Hi — have lived in South Korea and Idaho. I will be interested in your comments on Idaho. There’s a huge difference between the southern part of the state and the Panhandle, as well as the area around Boise and Moscow.

  11. HY

    yiks, i can’t stomach the silk worm larvae….the way you guys write always make me laugh, so funny hahaha…

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