10 Nov I arrived in Busan, which was called Pusan when I was stationed there in 1970. Then, it was a small harbor town, but the 2nd largest city in Korea. I had swum before at Haeundae Beach and there was nothing there. Now I was checked into a hotel there and the area was filled with tall buildings and one just one part of a very large city in which one could drive for an hour and be surrounded by tall buildings the entire time. And now Pusan is only the 5th largest city in Korea.
Walking on the beach, I saw expensive hotels and lightpoles with WiFi access points. All of the hotels were broadcasting their own WiFi. At the same time, down at the street level, the streets are filled with was as good as an acquarium. The lone octopus wandered around very low-tech food vendors and so many fresh fish that the market street bewildered.
11 Nov In the morning, I had to go to the Bexco conference center to give a talk. At lunch, we saw a wedding going on in the same building. Afterwards, I went outside, through the subway, to a Starbucks where young people dressed in costumes were making some kind of point. Along the way, I noted the mix of traditional and modern dress. And a great anti-smoking poster in the subway.
Coming back to the conference center, I saw high school students rehearsing a dance performance in the square. In this part of town, everything is very modern and except for the occasional Korean style of dress, one could be in any developed city.
That night, Elena Simperl organized a dinner.
12 Nov In 1970, I was in the 142nd Military Police Company stationed in Camp Hialeah, in then Pusan, Korea. This was originally on the outskirts of the city and there were no tall buildings around. GIs were rich by comparison to the local economy, and we could only legally possess military script as the Korean currency was not legally exchangeable. It was a different time. The first picture in this set shows a poster from that time that I saw the night before.
I had read on the Internet that the camp had been shut down in August, 2006. The camp was now in the middle of the city and surrounded by high-rises. The real estate was too valuable to be occupied.
I didn't know exactly where it was and wasn't sure it even existed now. It too a lot of map searching. But I finally figured out that the nearest subway stop was Bujeon-dong. Wandering around, I saw a large train station and figured I would be able to see the camp from one of the high pedestrian overpasses. I was right.
I found the camp and walked around the walls, starting at the motorpool. I found one pedestrian gate and saw through it that some heavy equipment was moving around inside. So I went to find the main gate. I found it.
Previously, out the main gate were very low modest buildings, which still existed along the walls where people still lived much as I remembered. But the streets in front of the gate and all around were broad and lined with tall buildings, some still going up.
The main gate had not been used in a while, so they they must be using the back gate. I knew where that was, having directed traffic there on one open camp day. I found it and tried the door on the guard shack. To my surprise, the door was open. I went inside and took a picture, surprising the Korean soldier inside. He explained that no civilians were allowed on the base since last year. As my picture shows, everything was on the wall just as the US 8th Army had left it.
So, then back to the subway and watching people there on on the street. That night, Prof. Han organized a dinner.
13 Nov I took off from the conferenence after my Korean friends gave me a recommendation for the most beautiful temple in the area. Hae Dong Yong Gung is on the coast and is a simple "must see". It is not big but it is very special.
That night was the main conference dinner, with fantastic Korean performance art. I caught the last minute of the last performance on my digital camera.
14 Nov On my last full day, my guide and teacher for the day took me to the most famous and largest temple in the area, Bemosa. This is a very large complex, that includes a museum, and we walked for hours. This was a unique experience, and my guide was very good at explaining the significance of the various statues and what people were doing. Some of the pictures show a man picking persimmons and a restroom and a telephone booth done in the same architectural style as the other buildings. Like the others, this is a working temple with a long history, and one can book a retreat here.
That night, Rose and I went to "Raw Fish Village" on the basis of repeated recommendations from Rose's hotel. We found our way there by subway, ending up on the beach, and walking to the designated area. A woman outside ushered us up to a lovely room where no one spoke English and we ordered by pointing to the lowest priced entree. We got what looked like a bunch of vegetables, but after I started eating them, they started moving. We left. The next day was my last in the Busan subway with its artificial gardens.
15 Nov I pack up and fly to Tokyo. Along the way, I see Mt. Fuji from the plane.