Sunset over bridge in Busan, South Korea

Busan, South Korea Through the Eyes of the ISA Resident Director

By Katya Kuhns, Site Specialist, Japan, South Korea and Thailand

Students planning on studying abroad in South Korea may limit their program search to its capital city, Seoul, but they don’t have to. Learn about Busan, the trendy coastal city in South Korea through the eyes of a Busan native, ISA Resident Director Yeseul Park.

ISA student at a Lantern Festival in Busan, South Korea.
An ISA student at the Busan Lotus Lantern Festival.

Can you please tell us a little background about yourself?

Annyeonghaseyo! My name is Yeseul Park and I am the Resident Director for ISA in Busan. I grew up in Busan and graduated with a degree in Childcare and Family Counseling from Dong-eui University.

What’s your international experience? Tell us about your story and how you came to ISA.

During my freshman year at university, I was longing for new adventures. I traveled to the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Indonesia. During my senior year after these fantastic adventures, I joined my university Buddy Building Program that encouraged exchange students from Thailand to learn about Korean culture and the language. These experiences influenced me to seek out the position at ISA.

Busan, South Korea

As someone born and raised in Busan, please tell us what makes it different from other Korean cities?

Unlike other big cities in Korea, Busan is nestled in between valleys and is located right by the ocean. Its location gives Busan a unique romantic atmosphere, and it feels like the city is giving you a big hug. All you need to do is pack your bag and go to the Gwanganalli Beach. Looking over the calm waters at the beautiful Gwangan Bridge and drinking a cup of your favorite coffee make it a perfect day.

What are people in Busan like, and what do they like to do in their free time?

People in Busan tend to be very cheerful and enthusiastic. They are open and friendly, especially elderly people. When you take the subway or walk down the street, many elderly people will try to talk to you. Because Busan is a coastal city, people enjoy going surfing in their free time. As the waves are quite calm, it is the perfect spot for beginners learning how to surf. 

ISA student kayaking in Busan, South Korea.
An ISA student kayaking at Gwanganalli Beach.

What are the top 3 things that you recommend students see or do in Busan?

I definitely recommend that students go to Gwanganalli Beach. Gwanganalli Beach is a calling card of Busan. Many festivals and events take place there throughout the year, including the Busan International Fireworks Festival.

Another place that will grab your attention is Haedong Yonggung Temple. It’s unusual to find a seaside temple in South Korea, and Haedong Yonggung temple is one of the most beautiful of its kind.  

Lastly, I recommend students visit the Gukje Market (gukje means “international” in Korean). The Gukje Market is one of Korea’s largest street markets. Its history started with the Korean War when the refugees who had to flee to Busan opened stalls on the street to make a living. Nearby you can also visit the largest in Korea fish market – Jagalchi Market – where you can taste the freshest seafood.  

ISA Student on an excursion to an island near Busan, South Korea.
ISA students on an excursion to Tongyeong and Geoje.

Lastly, what piece of advice would you give to students going to study abroad in Busan?

Be brave. ISA gives you a lot of opportunities to experience new things that you have never tried before, and you might never try again in the future. Studying abroad in Busan will help you learn more about yourself and how much you’re capable of. All you need to do is take a leap!


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