Busan: Books, Beach, and Basement Cinema

After I visited the Busan Museum of Modern History, I stumbled into Busan’s Book Alley.

The map shows that Busan is on the southeastern tip of South Korea

As a book lover, I was definitely stoked by the place (I used to visit secondhand bookstores almost every week in Taipei, even though I didn’t live in Taipei). I was impressed with how many books in English they had, and was tempted to buy some – then I reminded myself that I was travelling, I didn’t need more weight, and that there would be no shortage of English-language books in the United States.

I told myself I should return to Book Alley for a more thorough exploration, but that never happened. Fortunately, waterfalls and caribous wrote a really good post about Book Alley. Like me, they had visited just after Chuseok (the biggest holiday in South Korea).


One of Busan’s most famous spots is Haeundae. It’s the name of a district, a beach, and a popular South Korean movie about a tsumami which strikes Busan.

I returned to Busan a second time, and that’s when I went to Haeundae. I’m generally not a beach lover, but even I thought Haeundae was nice. My my was preoccupied with something (possibly working out my trip to Jirisan?) as I strolled through the beach.

I walked into the walkway over some rocks on the shore to a lighthouse. Haeundae is written as 海雲台 in hanja, which means ‘Sea Cloud Platform’. Near the lighthouse is a rock which has a Joseon-era poem including the words 海雲台 carved into it, and that’s how the place got its name. I didn’t take photos, and even though tons of people have written blog posts about Haeundae beach, the only once which I can find which mentioned the walkway or the lighthouse is this one.

I wasn’t there during the season of the Haeundae Sand Festival, so if you want to see giant sand sculptures, you’ll have to go to this blog or this blog or this one.


I had wanted to see the Busan International Film Festival, but due to logistical issues with my travel itinerary, that didn’t happen. However, I definitely wanted to see the Busan Cinema Center, which is one of the most famous works of modern architecture in all of South Korea. I saw it was only a few subway stops from Haeundae, so I figured I could walk there fairly quickly. HA HA HA HA HA. I had forgotten just how spread out Busan is, and the fact that this part of Busan is not pedestrian friendly didn’t help. The silver lining is that I didn’t reach the Cinema Center (which is near Spaland) until after sunset, so I could see it in its full LED glory.

Once I got there, walking around the Cinema Center at night was a cool experience.

I didn’t take any photos there, which is just as well, since the Southeast Asia Movie Theater Project describes the Cinema Center better than I can. There is also this video.

But just seeing the theater was not enough for me. So I saw Jimmy’s Hall. It was screened in a small exhibition room in the basement under the column which supports the huge roof. I think there were only about a hundred seats. I enjoyed the movie, and felt I could finally claim that I’ve *really* experienced the Busan Cinema Center.


About Sara K.

Sara K. is an aromantic asexual from California who has previously lived in Taiwan. She blogs at the notes which do not fit, has previously been a contributor at Manga Bookshelf, and has written guest posts for Hacking Chinese. She enjoys reading, travel, live theatre, learning languages, and gardening.
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6 Responses to Busan: Books, Beach, and Basement Cinema

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