Survival guide: Keeping up at Pusan


For the average Pusan International Film Festival neophyte, its endless array of movies, events and parties can be quite overwhelming. Fortunately, The Hollywood Reporter is here to steer you right and help you through the initial excitement.

Most of PIFF occurs at three major locations: the Haeundae Beach area, downtown Nampo-dong and just east of Haeundae in Jangsan-dong.

For most international festival goers, Haeundae Beach will be their home, as the film market, most of the parties and other official events will happen there.

The area around Haeundae is also chocked full of restaurants and bars, from the noisy to the cozy, good for both entertaining and business. One of the most popular hot spots for after-hours schmoozing is Minami, a simple bar right behind the Grand Hotel specializing in odeng, or fish cakes. Despite the limited English of the staff, this watering hole has proven so popular that they opened a second branch down the street.

Looking for fun outside of Haeundae? For years, the downtown neighborhood of Nampo-dong was the home of PIFF, before many of the events moved to the beaches; but Nampo-dong is still home to many of the PIFF theaters and is popular for its strong character.

For fresh fish closer to Haeundae, try the Millak-dong Sushi Street, just 5-10 minutes by taxi (most taxi drivers know the location).

Close to Millak-dong is Pusan's hottest spot for nightlife: the entertainment district around Kyungsung University. Filled with young people and energy, the diverse area boasts dozens of live music bars such as Jazz Club Monk and the hip-hop clubs Vinyl Underground and Foxy.

For a quiet, Western dinner, PIFF organizer and Pusan native Ryu Eun-jin recommends the area near Hanhwa Resort, a towering complex of new condos just a few minutes west of Haeundae. In particular, she recommends the Italian restaurant Van Gogh's Terrace for its sweeping views of the sea and the beautifully illuminated Gwangan Bridge.

A night of fun is never an excuse to oversleep and miss the following day's screenings and business deals, and a good way to recover from a tough night is with a brisk jog. One of the best local tracks is a seaside path behind the Westin Chosun Hotel, on the western end of Haeundae Beach.

If you're too hungover to jog, try the city's traditional hangover cure: bokguk, or blowfish soup. A brief taxi ride away from Haeundae, Chowon Bokguk and Geumsu Bokguk offer well-known remedies, with soothing soup and plump fish. Definitely a Pusan must, even for those not suffering the deleterious effects of a hectic festival week.

Finally, as the weather can be a bit fickle this time of year -- usually warm in the daytime, but with a sea breeze that can make temperatures rather chilly at night -- don't forget a jacket or light coat before stepping out on the town.


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