At dawn, I walked along Busan’s Songjeong Beach. The sound of my feet kicking into sand was drowned out by the crashing of the waves. When the sun took its first peek of the day, everyone stopped in their tracks. The crimson sky tinted the color of the sea and soon filled the eyes of travelers in Busan.
168 Stairs Neighborhood With a ‘Story’
Choryang-dong, a hillside neighborhood by the sea, exudes a unique atmosphere that cannot be felt in most other cities. Refugees who fled to Busan during the Korean War settled in this area as there was not enough space to accommodate them in the flatter parts of the city.
The highlight of Choryang Ibagugil is the 168 Stairs, with a steep incline of 35-45 degrees. There are toy stores to visit and benches to rest on along the way. The stairs gained more popularity after a monorail opened in 2016: you can buy souvenirs such as stickers, maps, and handkerchiefs at the boarding platform. A sense of nostalgia is evident while one peers down from several observatories. Choryang Ibagu-gil, where “ibagu” literally means “story,” received the Good Place Award from the government in 2016.
Yeongdodaegyo Bridge Korea’s Only Drawbridge
If you’re on the subway passing Nampo Station, you will hear the following announcement: “This station is Nampo Station, home to Korea’s only drawbridge.” While Busan is home to many amazing bridges, Yeongdodaegyo Bridge draws large crowds given its exclusive status. Every day at 2 p.m., people gather and cars stop to watch the drawbridge rise. For a few minutes, one side of the bridge lifts to an angle of 75 degrees. The seagulls painted on the asphalt appear to be soaring into the sky.
Yeongdodaegyo Bridge, which has connected the city center to Yeongdo-gu since 1934, was designated as Busan City Monument No. 56 in 2006. It was closed in 2010 for refitting, but reopened in 2013, and rises up once a day. The lift mechanism is unique, even among drawbridges. As the country’s first and only drawbridge, Yeongdodaegyo Bridge holds great significance in the history of bridges in Korea.
Haemaru Conquering Dalmaji-gil Road
Dalmaji-gil Road, famous for its splendid ocean views, is a great place for a walk if the mercury isn’t too low. Free parking is available at each observatory.
The first observatory boasts a bird’s eye view of Haeundae Beach and Gwangandaegyo Bridge. Walking further upslope leads to Haewoljeong Pavilion, which presents a picturesque view of the surroundings. If the sun has not set, head down to the beach and take the nostalgic railroad trail built on old railway tracks.
Haemaru, lying toward the far end of Dalmaji-gil Road, is a prime spot for watching the sunrise and sunset. No need to rush to see the sunset as an equally beautiful view awaits when the city lights up.