Post #8 – One-month-long festivities, fairs and concerts … Busan hosted during almost the entire month of October 2016 this phenomenal event – BOF – Busan One Asia Festival. I found out about it in social media and designed my second trip to Korea around it. Jung Yong Hwa, CNBLUE’s lead singer and a native of Busan, had been selected ambassador of the festival almost a year ahead of time. Was not quite sure what to expect, so I followed it online to see how it develops.
Each year such a festival is help in one major city in Asia, and Busan had the honors in 2016. The experience was worth the trip. I wish, for everyone else’s sake, that it would have been a bit more compact instead of spreading it over such a long time, mostly because tourists can hardly stay this long in one place. Fortunately I was able to see all the concerts, from the opening to the closing, by returning again to Busan after Seoul Fashion Week. The opening of BOF was held on October 1, a week before the beginning of the Busan Film Festival, one of the biggest ones in Asia, attended by celebrities from all over the continent and the world.
The finale of the BOF festival, on the 23rd, was scheduled to line up with Busan’t biggest annual festivities in October – the Busan Fireworks Festival, October 22nd, which has been hailed in the media as being the largest one worldwide. Since I don’t have a term of comparison, all I can say is that it was SPECTACULAR.
Building a trip to South Korea around festivals in fall makes a lot of sense, since there are so many of them. I was able to pack in 4 weeks two Fireworks Festivals, one in Seoul and one in Busan, one typhoon, Seoul Fashion Week, Taste of Busan Food Fair, 2 stadium concerts and 3 arena concerts, one Film Festival, a Fan Meeting by the famous actor Ji Chang Wook, aside from visiting all the palaces in Seoul, and all the museums I can possibly remember.
Busan One Asia Festival was kind to make tickets available in Hana Tours for foreigners a day or two before everyone else got to purchase theirs, so it was fairly easy to get them, albeit at impossible hours. It is good to sign up ahead of time with the website selling the tickets, and have a credit card that works internationally – had to try a few until one worked. Any website in Korean can be at least partially translated via Google Translator, so you can sign up for services with time. The selling site was in English.
Concert seats at festivals sell very fast, although there are always tickets available higher up. Floor tickets at the stadium were only sold locally, on the day of the event and were rather expensive. All other seats were $10 which was incredible. The food and cosmetics fairs were basically free and you could buy food and many other great Korean products, which are hard to resist.
Busan has a great underground system, so getting around is easy; also taxis are very affordable. When taking a taxi, it is best to know a significant landmark near your end destination, and then proceed on foot. Drivers don’t find addresses easily. My hotel had a Planet Hollywood nearby, so it was easy to return. Concerts venues are also easy to find.
Pretty much every famous k-pop group attended BOF… can’t even remember them all… but Soompi had them in their archive, so here they are:
10/1 – Psy, Sechs Kies, Girls’ Generation, MFBTY, INFINITE, BLOCK B, BTS, B1A4, APink, Girl’s Day, B.A.P., T-ARA, I.O.I, Lyn, DIA, LABOUM
10/2 – SE7EN, Kim KyuJong, U-KISS.
10/3 – Gummy, Hwang ChiYeol, Lyn.
10/4 – T-ARA, DIA, Song JiEun, ASTRO, KNK
10/23 – SHINee, EXO (Baekhyun, Xiumin, Chen), INFINITE, BTS, GOT7, MAMAMOO, AOA, TWICE, GFRIEND, and MONSTA X.
Getting a chance to live through so many experiences in such a short period of time is what traveling is all bout – live the arts and culture, meet local people, commute with them, taste the tastes of each place, hear the sounds of nature, learn new words, and hear new stories. And then, REPEAT.