Haeundae beach, Busan © 2010 David Richler. All rights reserved.

Blue Skies, Beaches, and Binoche in Busan

After spending three days in Seoul, we hopped on the train and headed for Korea’s second largest city, the southern port of Busan, sometimes referred to as Pusan (there is currently no standardized spelling of the Korean language using the the Roman alphabet).

Busan is a resort town known for its and lively nightlife, but also for its seafood, and particularly its raw fish. These photos were all taken by my faithful travel companion Geneviève while I was stuck inside the multiplex watching movies – part of the reason we were traveling there in the first place is because Busan hosts the annual Pusan International Film Festival, a prestigious showcase for Asian films looking to gain exposure and a chance at wider distribution. It’s a also a cinephile’s wet dream. This year was its 15th edition. Oddly enough, Oliver Stone was there to screen his new Wall Street film in the festival’s main competition.

While I was sitting through three or four movies a day, Geneviève got the chance to roam around by herself, and she produced some amazing images of Busan’s most popular beach, Haeundae, also home to the film festival’s outdoor stage known as “Piff Village” (seen below.)

Here is some sand art of the French actress Juliette Binoche, though it may be difficult to recognize her based on this bizarre rendering. She was a guest at the festival, there to support her fantastic new film Certified Copy, directed by the great Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami.

What struck me when I saw these photos was the mere fact of a blue sky and crisp white , something we had not seen in Seoul, which was perpetually covered by a thick cloud of greyish smog. Though I was in my element at the festival, I was jealous of for catching a glimpse of those and getting her feet wet in the ocean.

Unfortunately, the water was too cold to swim. I guess we’ll just have to hold out until Bali :)