Merchants and shoppers haggle over prices at Jagalchi Market (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)
BUSAN -- Though there are many coastal towns in South Korea, the southern port city of Busan is one of the most treasured sites for renowned television and film directors and content creators. The city mesmerizes them with upscale luxury high-rise apartments, hotel buildings, vast natural landscapes, panoramic seascapes and, of course, the unique Gyeongsang dialect.
Visiting the city’s famous tourist sites will surely make for an exciting getaway.
Especially if you are a passionate Netflix watcher who binge-watches many of its Korean original series, you should spend some time to actually visit the beloved filming locations.
Haedong Yonggungsa (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)
Haedong Yonggung Temple
Haedong Yonggungsa differentiates itself from many other temples that are located deep in the mountains as it stands at the very edge of the seashore.
Kim Jin-min, who helmed the popular drama series “Marriage Contract” (2016) and “Extracurricular” (2021), featured the temple as the funeral home for drug cartel members in Netflix’s “My Name” (2021).
Haedong Yonggungsa, meaning “Korean dragon palace temple,” is a Buddhist temple in Gijang-gun, Busan. It has perhaps the most beautiful location of all temples in Korea, in close proximity to both a mountain and a coastline.
With a short stroll in a bamboo forest, the main entrance gate with two golden dragons on either pillar welcomes visitors.
Visitors will soon encounter a two-way road. Before heading straight toward the main temple courtyard, try a quick detour to the left.
Following the small pathway, an outdoor shrine dedicated to the Future Buddha and a golden statue of the Bodhisattva of the Afterlife are visible on the shoreline.
If you walk straight ahead, a stone bridge will appear, where you can toss a coin to wish for good luck.
The beautifully built main hall, colorful murals, dragon sculptures and the golden Podae Hwasang catches visitors’ attention, prompting them to take out their cameras.
If you climb the mountain on the stone stairs behind the temple, you will find a statue of the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy staring down at both Haedong Yonggungsa and the beach of Busan.
Many are struck speechless by the splendid view and the unending sea horizon. Meanwhile, faithfuls say their prayers.
“I see an increasing number of foreign tourists visiting Haedong Yonggungsa who are impressed by the amazing scenery around the temple,” Lee Young-mi, a woman in her late 70s, told The Korea Herald.
“I wish more people would visit the temple, learn about the beauty of Haedong Yonggungsa and enjoy the view to its fullest. The temple is truly a treasure of Busan!” Lee added.
Namhang as seen in “D.P.” (Netflix)
Jagalchi Market and Namhang
The port city of Busan’s vitality is best captured at Jagalchi Market, probably one of the best known fish markets in the country.
Though some people confuse the name of the market with jalgalchi fish, or “himegenge,” the name of the market is actually a combination of the two Korean words -- “jagal,” meaning pebbles, and “chi,” a Busan dialect for place.
After a five- to seven-minute-walk from Jagalchi Station Exit No. 10, the briny smell of the ocean hits visitors’ nostrils, signaling that the fish market is near.
The pebbles have been replaced by a seven-story building, but the vibrant energy of the merchants are still palpable.
Different types of fish and rare aquatic life are displayed on the first floor, where you can pick what you want to take home or eat at the dining area upstairs.
At the traditional fish market adjacent to the modern building, fishmongers show off their fresh offerings, calling out to shoppers. Shoppers and sellers haggle over prices and share their daily lives through small talk.
“COVID-19 definitely gave us a hard time. But I hope to see many local shoppers and visitors from outside Busan after most of the social distancing rules are lifted, making it a lively market again,” a Jagalchi Market merchant surnamed Park said, while cleaning a bass for her customer.
Just a small walk from the market, the port Namhang presents a typical view of a coastal city.
The ships are lined up in the harbor, and wooden boxes are stacked for fishermen to use for their next departure.
The dynamic energy of the seafood hub and Namhang are featured in the Netflix series “D.P.” (2021) and “My Name.” The makers of the American superhero movie “Black Panther” (2018) created a set inspired by Jagalchi Market.
Nighttime view of Gwangan Bridge (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)
Famous for its colorful nighttime view, Gwangan Bridge has become an iconic Busan landmark after being featured in countless films and TV dramas.
The bridge has caught the attention of many directors as a set for thrilling car chases.
But if you want to enjoy the bridge to the fullest, Gwangalli Beach is the ideal place to visit.
After listening to music performed by local artists, feeling the night breeze and walking along the seashore, travelers can update their Instagram with photos of the mesmerizing Gwangan Bridge.
By Lee Si-jin (firstname.lastname@example.org