Introduction to Nampodong Area
Nampodong was once considered as the downtown of Busan, South Korea. Now it shares the fame with Seomyeon and Centum City in Haeundae, but it is still one of the busiest areas in Busan with many attractions: BIFF Square, Gwangbokro Culture and Fashion Street, and more.
BIFF Square (BIFF 광장)
15-1, Nampo-dong 3(sam)-ga, Jung-gu, Busan, South Korea
Take subway Line 1 (Orange Line) and get off at Jagalchi station (자갈치/116). Exit 7.
Admission (Entrance Fee)
BIFF Square, The Birthplace of Busan Movie Industry
While this area was the heart of Busan’s movie businesses once, the fame is not as glorious as before due to Dureraum in Centum City and many multiplex cinemas over the whole city. And yet, the square is definitely worth visiting because of its energetic atmosphere, proximity to Gukje Market, Kkangtong market and Jagalchi Market, and, of course, Ssiat Hotteok.
Among several ways of public transportation to come visit BIFF Square, subway would be the easiest. Take subway Line 1, the orange line, and get off at Jagalchi station.
Go out through Exit 7. You will get to BIFF Square.
Beginning with Busan Theater, a couple of cinemas started to open in Nampodong after Korean Independence in 1945. Later the number reached to about 20 in the 1960s. That was the beginning of Nampodong Cinema Neighborhood. When Busan International Film Festival started in 1996, the area got a new name as BIFF Square (BIFF 광장).
At BIFF (Busan International Film Festival) Square, the “BIFF Square Ground Opening” is held on the eve of the festival each year including handprintings of movie celebrities.
Busan Theater (부산극장) is the very first movie theater in Busan.
The hands of recognized people in the film industry have been printed and commemorated on the BIFF Square, including Ennio Morricone, Jeremy Irons, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe, and Lee Jangho.
Gwangbokro Culture and Fashion Street
Gwangbokro Culture and Fashion Street has been one of the most fashionable places in Busan. When people mention Nampodong as the original downtown, Gwangbokro has always been a part of it. The name translates as “Independence Road,” which you may assume that the name was derived from the historical background of Korea.
The place had kept its fame as the most busiest and crowded part of Busan for a long time. Now, it seems that the center of Busan has moved to Haeundae and Seomyeon, didn’t someone say, “a diamond on a dunghill is a precious diamond still”?
The street is still dotted with a good mixture of well-known global brands, Korean fashion brands, K-Beauty shops, hair salons, and more. It’s not surprising that this is one of the most visited places in Busan by international visitors. Shopping through the long street in a cheering mood is another experience from shopping at department stores.
Gwangbokro Fashion and Culture Street and Nampodong area attract a big crowd especially during the holiday season with its annual Christmas Tree Festival. The area sparkles with Christmas lights and gets filled with Christmas music and holiday spirit.
Kakao Friends Flagship Store in Busan
62, Gwangbok-ro, Jung-gu, Busan, South Korea
Take subway Line 1 (Orange Line) and get off at Nampo station (남포/116). Exit 1 and walk about 400 meters (1,300 feet). Or, get off at Jagalchi station (자갈치/116). Exit 7. And walk all through BIFF square and Gwangbokro bound to Lotte Department Store Gwangbok.
Everyday12:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Website: Kakao Friends Stores Page
If you are interested in life in South Korea, you have probably heard of KakaoTalk or KaTalk (카톡). It is the most used messenger in South Korea by far – its market share reaches almost 87%. The company behind this super successful messenger and other popular apps is Kakao. Kakao Friends are the characters that the company created and has promoted, and apparently, they have become quite popular among younger generations. The characters originally started as emojis on KakaoTalk but they are virtually on everything related to Kakao as their popularity grows.
You can buy Kakao Friends goods and items online (link) or at its 27 stores (link). Busan store in Nampodong is one of its three flagship stores. It is a 4-story building and literally filled with Kakao Friends goods from daily accessories and AirPods cases to pajamas (yes, pajamas.) On the 4th floor, it has a cafe named after one of its characters, Apeach. If you are a fan of something cute and colorful, the store is worth stopping by.
Arirang Street near BIFF Square
Arirang Street was born during the Korean War as refugees from other regions started to sell things and open shops in this area. In the beginning, most of the businesses dealt with military goods or smuggled items. Later, tailor shops and jewelry stores boomed until the 1990s. Nowadays, the street still keeps its popularity thanks to many local specialty stores and the popular food kiosks, especially serving bibimdangmyeon (비빔당면/chewy spicy glass noodles).
More Things to Do in or near Nampodong
BIFF Square and Gwangbokro Culture and Fashion Street are at the center of points of interest in the so-called Wondosim (원도심/the original downtown area of Busan). Right next to the BIFF Square two famous traditional markets welcome visitors: Gukje Market and Bupyeong Market. These markets are the important parts of Busan’s modern history and they still carry them. If you watch a movie, “Gukjesijang (국제시장/Ode to Father),” it could help to understand the story behind it. If you are a fan of fresh seafood, you cannot miss Jagalchi Market right across the street from BIFF Square. It is the largest seafood market in South Korea.
An escalator will lead you up to Youngdusan Park (용두산 공원) from Gwangbokro. The escalator is 87 meters long and will make your short trip even more enjoyable with neon signs. You can also visit the Busan Modern History Museum (Currently Closed). The building was originally used as the Busan Branch of the Oriental Development Company during the Japanese occupation, but later it was recreated for the museum.