busan international fireworks festival

i am the type of person that can get really concerned about things. though i go through my life mostly looking up i can experience moments of worry, moments that can keep me up at night watching action movies to stay distracted. i can settle into a life and start new very easily but fragments of doubt can shuffle up to me quickly and without notice. i was the kind of kid that was happy but also had the potential for unmatched levels of moroseness. despite my overall state of mental well being here in korea, i have spent a few nights wondering if i was doing all i could here. to offset creeping notions i spent this weekend in busan with friends for the international fireworks festival. sadly angela stayed in daegu due to a nasty sickness.

dongdaegu station
dongdaegu station

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the busan international fireworks is apparently a big deal in south korea. i hadn't really heard much about it and sort of assumed that when i did it was because i was just some westerner looking to appropriate some culture: with some "major" festival happening on a weekly basis around the country it can difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff: the onggi pottery show, for example, is coming up soon and is sure to be a hit. or not. but it sure is getting the shit advertised out of it. who knows? but when a foreigner hears of something like an International Fireworks Festival happening on the most popular beach in the country they sort of have to go. especially if they have awesome friends willing to put them up for free.

gwangalli beach, busan. before the crowds arrived in our area.

so ann, ryan, colin, kristen, sam, jesse and myself bought from a streetside vender a bunch of beach mats that look like the UV shields californians put in their parked cars: you know the type, foil on one side, vaguely padded, insulating. proud and feeling adventurous we took our newly acquired spacesuit material down to the beach. i was informed that there would be a lot of people there. what i wasn't ready for was the sheer amount of bodies. when i saw metallica many years ago i knew what i was signing up for. when i happily strolled into a crowd umpteen times larger and umpteen times more prone to exploding than that which was crammed into qwest field i was completely unprepared. we waded into the mob with another group of festival participants and got no further than 20 feet before we were utterly stuck in the quagmire. sam was up front and got thoroughly harassed and handled by a little old lady who seemed to have much more power than her hunched frame would have cared to admit. i was choking on my backpack and the five friends between us were beginning to lose their minds. the noise got louder and louder as those koreans behind us shouted to move forward and those in front of us shouted to move back. i cracked. screaming and panicked i turned around and tried to get back. more old ladies pushed me aside and i nearly fell over as the shoulder checks became increasingly violent. the last time i felt so enraged was 8 years ago when security guards didn't let me through the gates to see mudvayne. i thought those days were behind me but to my immediate horror they were staring me in the face, daring me to stand up straight and keep my knees from buckling.

eventually we all made it back out onto the street and were informed that down the beach a click we'd find a more open area. sure enough we found space to lay down our mats and then our bruised egos. it was 4:30pm. the fireworks wouldn't start for another three and a half hours.

full beach
close to show time, the space between individual mats becomes null

8:00. showtime.

from left: jesse, sam, kristen, colin, ann, ryan

so, am i doing all i can here? no. the answer is that simple. it will be impossible to do everything and get the sense of accomplishment that comes with living somewhere for years. i will never fully conquer south korea but as long as i make these efforts and spend time with friends and challenge myself there is no telling where the rewards end. maybe the notion of never being able to see everything is exactly what i need in my life, after all.And the rest of your post here


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