Singing and Dancing in Busan Harbour, 1995.

Shortly after arriving in Korea I made a long-weekend trip to Busan with two acquaintances. One of them had heard that it was possible to get a harbour tour by paying a bit of money to fishing boat owners that weren’t busy. We got to the harbour and, although none of us could speak any Korean, we managed to explain to the man in the photo through gestures that we wanted to have a boat ride.

He took our money and patted the air while saying one of the few Korean phrases any of us understood. “Just a minute! Just a minute!” And off he flew down the docks. After an uncomfortable number of minutes we started to wonder if we had been ripped off, but he returned with the woman above and a picnic of raw seafood, vinegar chilli paste, and a couple bottles of soju.

We got into the boat and he did a semi-circle of the harbour. Then he turned off the motor near a fleet of rusting ships and got out the picnic. I don’t like fish or alcohol, but everyone else did and the party got into full swing. I got bored and after a while I think my companions got bored as well. Meanwhile, the man and the woman seemed to be getting drunker and drunker. I got out my dictionary and looked up the word for “go”. I had no idea how to conjugate verbs at that time, so I just kept saying, “To go! To go!” like an idiot. Finally the man started up the motor and away we went. Straight towards a large ship coming into the harbour. I pointed and shouted. “To look! To look!” The guy said what I assume was, “Yeah, whatever. Like I don’t know about it.” But he sure didn’t seem to know about it.

We avoided the ship and got back to the dock in one piece and above water so everything worked out fine. The adventure was slightly terrifying at times, but it did make an interesting memory of my early days in Korea.

6 thoughts on “Busan Harbour Boat Tour

      1. I see. Whenever I visit Korea I never leave without filling myself up with 막걸리. I like it so much I even pay extra to have it in Korean restaurants here in Taipei.

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  1. Great story. Well done for having a camera with you to record the husband&wife. Any boat people I’ve come across seem to a much more relaxed attitude to life (and death) than I find comfortable – particularly when I’m on their boat.

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    1. Thank you. I think the camera was some sort of Pentax point and shoot that I got from my parents’ house at some point. Or was it a gift? I can’t remember. Anyway, it was fine for snapshots, which was all that I was interested in at the time.

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