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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Korea 2013: Busan Chapter 2

UN Memorial Cemetery in Korea

We awoke the next morning for a delicious breakfast provided by the hotel. By the time we managed to settle the boys and travel by taxi to our first destination, the UN Memorial Cemetary, it was already lunch time. But we were at once awestruck by what we saw. 

The Korean national tourism site provides some background information on the burial ground:

The UN Memorial Cemetery in Korea honors UN soldiers from 16 countries that were killed in battle during the Korean War from 1950-1953. This serene park spreads across a grassy plain area of 135,000 m2. Some of the sites and memorials include: Memorial Service Hall, Memorabilia Hall, 2 Turkish Monuments, Greek Monument, Australian Monument, British Common Wealth Monument and 2 ponds. The Memorial Service Hall and the Memorabilia Hall were constructed in 1964 and 1968 respectively. The citizens of Busan dedicated the Main Gate in 1966. There are many annual events held here, some of the key events include: April’s Tributary Ceremony of the Veterans of the Korean War, May’s American Memorial Day, June’s Korean Memorial Day, and October’s UN Ceremony Day.

Being a keen student of the Korean War, I was thrilled at actually stepping foot in a place which had so much historical significance. I remembered from my history classes that Busan was the city where the South Koreans made their final stand just before being rescued by the US-led UN forces. It was therefore particularly poignant to situate the cemetery here. 
The first hint of the solemness and serenity
accorded to the place.
What is war? After all at the end you would simply be buried in a row
alongside others who had fought with you.
Soldiers were buried according to their country
of origin. 
Here lies the names of all those who had died to preserve the sovereignty
of South Korea.
In memory of the fathers who gave their lives so that their children
could live.
Solemnly reflecting about the cost of war.
Memorial Service Hall.
The lovely stained glass windows depict the hope for the future.
Towards the end of our visit, the weather suddenly turned very cold and it started to rain. We were forced to head indoors where we spent the rest of the day at one of the branches of the Lotte Department Store. it was a fruitful afternoon, and we managed to book a slot for a family photoshoot at one of the studios we had found on the Internet.

Busan Tower & Yongdusan Park

We woke up bright and early the next morning. Eager to get outdoors after an afternoon indoors, we headed for Yongdusan Park, which according to the Korean Tourism Organization, houses one of the three "well-known" mountains in Busan. These are the details from the website:

Yongdusan in downtown Busan, is one of the 3 well-known mountains in Busan. Its old name is Songhyunsan, which means a mountain has a view of the sea through the dense fine tree forest. Later the name has changed into Yongdusan. It came from its shape, which is similar to dragon head and people thought it has a spirit to defeat enemies coming over the sea.

On the mountain were shrine built by Japanese people during Japanese colonial role, but now are Cheokhwabi monument (the stone monument to the exclusion of foreigners from the country), Chunghontap (memorial tower for Korean war victims), 4.19 Revolution monument (the student's anti-government revolt), the statue of General Lee Sunsin(the great commander in Joseon Dynasty period(1392-1910)) and Busan tower. 

During Korea war, displaced people built houses on it even on the top, but 2 times of big fires took all them away making it bald mountain. Since then, fierce efforts to plant trees have created such beautiful park. The name of the park was once Unam park in the time of the Liberal Party’s ruling but it went back to Yungdosan park after April revolution (1960). It is a place with beautiful scenery. Especially the night landscape from Busan tower is magnificent.


Mummy & Son enjoying the lovely walk up the
gentle slopes circling Yongdusan.
Daddy & the Boys.
Little Z was clearly in his element!
At the base of the Busan Tower there are couple
spots for those cutesy "lovey-dovey" photos.
Legend has it that if you lock your hearts together
at this fence, that you will be "locked" together
forever. If only love and marriage was so easy :)
After a leisurely walk up Yongdusan's gentle slopes, we finally got to the top and all ready to ascend Busan Tower. The view from the top was apparently quite a sight to behold. More on the tower here:

Busan Tower is a symbol of Busan that stands proudly 69m above sea level at a height of 120m. The top of the tower is modeled after the baldaquin of Dabotap Pagoda in Bulguksa Temple, Gyeongju. Beloved by Busan citizens and tourists alike, the tower offers a stunning night view and plenty to see, such as the Statue of the Great Admiral Yi Sun-shin, the Bell of the Citizens, a flower clock, the Museum of Musical Instruments of the World, and a bust of the Busan-based independent activist, Baeksan An Hee-je.
Quite a majesty view of the tower from below.
There is apparently a legend involving lovers and the
temple just below the tower. 
The large number of shipping vessels underscores Busan's origins as a
trading city and its importance on major shipping routes.
Busan is after all Korea's second largest city as is evident from the dense
population enclaves depicted here.
The littler one is carried by Mummy so he can also enjoy the sights.
A story of two brothers.

A Magical Christmas Surprise

By the time we descended from the tower and walked down the mountain, we were exhausted. We wandered into a restaurant frequented by the locals, and realised that they specialised in chilli pork and served few other dishes. Too tired to find another eating location, we tucked in and were surprised that the boys could manage the spice and actually enjoyed the meal. 

After lunch it was a nice walk in the direction of the Main Building and Aqua Mall of the Lotte Department Store. The world's tallest indoor musical fountain is located there and we knew that the boys would love to see it.


Enjoying some delectable street food on route to
the Lotte Department Store.
The streets were transformed before our very eyes as
daylight made way for eventide. 
The boys were mesmerised by the dazzling display
of Christmas lights. We even had performers
singing and dancing right in the middle of the street!
These little boxes were apparently gifts to the City of Busan from cities
all over the world. 
We were particularly enthralled by these lovely crystalline animals.
A most magical Christmas. A night we will always remember!
We managed to make it in time for the last show of the musical fountain and it was truly a performance to remember. Spectacular splashes of water and wispy sprays of mist were choreographed to haunting classical music and modern Korean tunes. The experience left all of us mesmerised. But the show was over all too quickly, and were left to eat our dinner, shop and then finally make our way back to our lovely hotel.

Next: The Lim family take time out for a family photoshoot.
Previously: Savouring Busan's best fried chicken and enjoying a walk on "Camellia Island".

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