Busan’s Tallest Peak, PIFF Closing Ceremony, 부산 불꽃 축제 (Busan Fireworks Festival)

October 19, 2009

Last Thursday, all of the first grade high schoolers had a class picnic, which meant that all of the first-grade teachers had the day off. And since my second graders were in Seoul all week, I had the day off too. And the logical thing to do on a day off from work is to hike the tallest peak in your city, right? Right. So I went along with three of my fellow teachers; a few hours and 801 meters later, we were there:

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My awkward stance in this next picture is due to the steep, craggy enscarpment a few feet behind me.

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Friday evening was the PIFF closing ceremony, held at the huge outdoor theater at the Yachting Center, and I was fortunate enough to acquire a ticket. There were some awards for some movies I hadn’t seen and a lot of celebrities I didn’t know, but I was just happy that everyone else was excited. The closing film was “The Message,” a Chinese espionage-thriller that takes place during the Second Sino-Japanese War. Here’s the trailer, which gives away way too much if you ask me, even if you don’t speak Mandarin:

The movie was spectacular, and I’d recommend that you see it if you ever have the chance. I did, however, have some problems with it. SPOILER ALERT! In the movie, it is discovered that somebody is leaking information to the “resistance” (pardon my vague terminology, as I’m not exactly an expert on the Second Sino-Japanese War. And since I think it’s safe to assume that you aren’t either, just use your imagination here). Somehow the military figures out where the leak is coming from, and they narrow the possibilities to about six individuals within the military hierarchy. They then bring all of the suspects together at a remote castle and keep them in captivity until the mole is revealed. This, however, is just an awful plan, and whoever came up with it  was probably playing way too much Clue. Sure, lock six people together in a castle, one of whom is a highly successful covert double agent, an expert at secrecy and manipulation, with no real plan at all, and everything is pretty much guaranteed to go horribly wrong. It does, however, make for a good movie. And the whole experience of viewing with thousands of other people at a huge outdoor, beachside theater, with the actors and director and plenty of other important people that I didn’t know in attendance, was pretty awesome:

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And then came Saturday night. As the saying goes, “when it rains it pours.” But because it rarely rains here in Busan, the appropriate expression would be more like “When there is a festival there is an abundance of festivals” (now that’s logic). And as the International Film Festival ends, the Fireworks festival begins at Gwangalli beach. I’m not really sure what goes on at the “festival” aside from the 50-minute opening night display. I was told that this is the largest fireworks display in the world, but I’m pretty sure that is a lie. Nevertheless, it was huge and enormously impressive. Note: the Korean word for “fireworks” is 불꽃 (fire-flower), which I like much better. Now brace yourself for a LOT of pictures.

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Note that these next four are in direct sequence.

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One of my favorites, which really captures the idea of a “fire-flower”:

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And afterwards:

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Aaaaand goodnight!

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