Wednesday, October 16, 2013

KR&JP 2013 Travelogue Day 6: Art and theatre in Busan

After a hectic few days of history, I took a little break in Busan. A break from history, that is.

Busan is one of Korea's cultural capitals, and it's second largest conurbation. A hilly and verdant city with lots of apartment block clusters and bespoke towers (left) boasting a lot of great food places and quirky cafes (right), it somewhat reminds me of Singapore. It's also significant for its modern-era history, as it served as a Republic stronghold during the Korean War. The return of the sun made it a lovely place to walk around and take in the sights.

Like Gyeongju Museum, large parts of Busan Museum (top left) were under renovation, leaving mainly the History Experience Room and its Joseon-era relics (bottom), costume display (top right) and ritual reconstructions (middle left) to see. And, finally, a chance to dress up, albeit as a Joseon king (middle right). One of the English-speaking stewards of the place was very interested in, well, my interest in Korean history and culture; we had a nice chat as she showed me around and helped me with the costume.

After lunch, I spent pretty much the entire afternoon and early evening in the Busan Museum of Art. The vast, multi-storeyed building was hosting a featured exhibition of Shin Sang-Ho's Final Frontier exhibition, the bulk of which was composed of the Boldly Go series: sarcophagus-like figures sailing a fleet of riveted metal ships (top left). Inside, several rooms, large and small, housed special exhibitions by modern and contemporary artists, such as Kim Bong-Tae's Accumulation (bottom right). One thing I especially liked about not only Busan Museum of Art, but many other Korean museums as well, was their inclusion of children's sections that engaged young visitors while not patronizing them.

Earlier in the day, I had seen a poster (bottom left) for a local theatre group's production, Off-Stage, for which the very nice chap at The Man Coffee also helped me reserve a seat. I hurried over to the Actor's Theater in the evening to watch it. The theater, like many of the good things in Korea, is down a staircase leading to the basement. It's a little cramped in the corridor, but fairly spacious in the actual theater room, and had an elaborate set (top) in place for the play. The play itself was about the relationships between and among two invisible ghosts and two living humans in a backstage room. I did not understand a lot of it, having very little knowledge of Korean, but it was still fun to watch some good acting by the cast (bottom right).

I had a lot more time for food today. For lunch, it was the spicy pork bone stew called gamjatang (top left) and the stuffed dumplings called mandu (top right). I tried a couple of snacks too: bungeoppang (middle left), a sort of sweet-stuffed waffle shaped like a fish, and goguma twigim (middle right), a supremely delicious tempura-like sweet potato fritter. For dinner, I had another pork stew (bottom left) at a Chinese-Korean place. I also tried a couple of local beverages, such as the energy drink vita500, which is advertised using a cute jingle, and cold Dutch coffee, which seems to be very popular in Korea.

And the night was passed in bar-hopping and sampling local beers. Yes, that is Psy on the right.

No comments:

Post a Comment