Busan, facts, figures and Boogi
First opened to international trade in 1876, Busan is Korea’s leading port. Now, the city hopes to host World Expo 2030. As part of that dream, Busan is building the world’s first sustainable floating city, a joint project with OCEANIX and UN–Habitat. The environmentally friendly sustainable city aims to provide solutions to coastal cities with severe land shortages caused by climate change.
Busan is the world’s second busiest transshipment port and cargo hub after Singapore. More than 20 million TEUs are processed annually, accounting for 75% of Korea’s annual container traffic.
At the start of the Korean War(1950-1953), North Korea quickly seized control of most of South Korea, driving all the way to the Nakdong River just three months after its initial invasion. As the largest city that remained outside of communist control, Busan served as South Korea’s temporary capital for 1,023 days. The city also took in large numbers of refugees, resulting in a unique urban culture and distinctive local cuisine that includes milmyeon, a chilled noodle dish derived from North Korean naengmyeon.
Busan has the only UN memorial cemetery in the world. The park is the final resting place of 2,311 soldiers from 11 countries who fought in the Korean War. Every year on Nov. 11, a siren blares here for a minute at 11 a.m. for the “Turn Toward Busan International Memorial Ceremony” to commemorate the fallen. Busan was the UN’s last stronghold in the early stage of the war, so it was the only place the allies could bury their dead. The port also allowed the UN to easily send fallen soldiers back to their homelands.
Busan was home to 880,000 people during the Korean War, double its pre-war population of 470,000 due to the large influx of refugees. Today, Busan is the second largest city in the country after Seoul, with a population of 3.4 million.
The Gyeongbu Expressway was Korea’s first national highway and the foundation of the country’s miraculous economic development. The 416-kilometer (258 miles) road connecting Seoul and Busan opened in 1970. In addition to being the cornerstone to Korea’s industrialization, the expressway also boosted tourism, especially by drawing people to Busan’s beautiful beaches in summer.
The World Expo in Busan in 2030 is expected to draw 34,800,000 visitors, far more than the 3 million people who visited during the 2002 World Cup co-hosted with Japan, or the 1.4 million who visited during the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics. The World Expo is a six-month event, whereas the World Cup lasted for 30 days and the Winter Olympics 16 days.
The Busan World Expo 2030 is expected to have an induced economic impact of $46.9 billion, far more than the 2002 World Cup’s $13 billion and the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics’ $22 billion.
Korea first participated in a global exhibition during the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Korea’s booth resembled a traditional tile-roofed house, or giwajip, and displayed items such as objects decorated with najeonchilgi, a handcraft technique of inlaid mother-of-pearl, furniture, guns and armor. The booth also hosted performances of traditional Korean arts.
Korea temporarily ceased attending international expos after the Korean War broke out in 1950 but returned for the Seattle World’s Fair in 1962. Korea became an official member of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) in 1987. Two BIE-certified expos have been held in Korea — the Daejeon Expo in 1993 and Yeosu Expo in 2012.
The biggest K-pop group in the world was named the official Busan World Expo ambassadors. The group held a free concert promoting Busan World Expo in October 2022 in front of over 50,000 people. BTS’s Jimin and Jungkook are sons of Busan. The BTS fan club ARMY has 18 million members worldwide.
Asia’s largest international film festival is the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), first held in 1996. TIME Magazine called it the best film festival in Asia and one of the five-most prestigious film festivals in the world. It also received the “Federico Fellini Honor Award” from UNESCO in 2007.
Busan hosts one of Asia’s biggest game expos, G-Star. First held in 2005, the trade fair opens every November. Busan BEXCO has hosted the event since 2009. Last year’s offline show drew 184,000 attendees, besting the rival Tokyo Game Show, which drew 138,000 attendees. Attending G-Star are the world’s major game publishers, including Korea’s Krafton, Kakao Games, Nexon, Netmarble and NCSoft, as well as global publishers like Blizzard, Unity, Epic Games and miHoYo.
The 101-story Busan LCT is 411 meters (1,348 feet) high, making it Korea’s second-tallest building behind Seoul’s 123-story Lotte Tower at 555 meters. The LCT was completed in 2019 and is one of the most expensive apartment buildings in the country.
Busan is Korea’s fishcake capital, home to over half of the country’s roughly 100 producers. Busan’s first fishcake company was founded in 1907, with the number of makers skyrocketing after the Korean War.
The Bupyeong Kkangtong Market is known for its many fishcake stores. The market is not only one of Busan’s three biggest traditional markets alongside the Gukje and Jagalchi markets, but it was also Korea’s first night market to open in 2013.
Busan is known for its seven major bridges along the coast that connects all the city’s major beaches, including Haeundae and Gwangalli.
The bridges are built above the sea and stretch 53 kilometers between Haeundae and Geoje, South Gyeongsang. The landmark project was completed when Busan Harbor Bridge was finished in 2014.
The seagull Boogi is the mascot of the Busan World Expo. Boogi is an acronym for Busan galmaegi, or seagull. The seabird has long been synonymous with the city of Busan, and “Busan Galmaegi” (1982) is a song beloved by Koreans.