Life in Busan: What It’s Like to Live in Oryukdo

Looking for an area to live in Busan? Our new series looks at locals in Busan giving the inside scoop on what goes on in their neighborhood.

In our second installment, American Kenneth May gives us a look at Oryukdo.

About the area

Tucked away in Yongho-dong at the backside of Igidae Park, SK View apartments in Yongho-dong, Nam-gu offer a nature respite from city life, while living within the city limits.

The apartments offer affordable housing which includes an indoor swimming pool, fitness center, sauna, and most of all, quiet.

Nearby, the coastal trail from Oryukdo to Igidae Park offers hikers a beautiful view of the sea and things to enjoy, like a former sea women’s shelter, the filming site of the movie ‘Haeundae’, a coastal suspension bridge, and more.

At the front entrance, Oryukdo Skywalk which opened in 2013, offers a view of the waves while looking down through the transparent floor.

The area is considered one of the best photo spots in Busan and Japan’s Tsushima Island can be seen on days with clear skies.

Oryukdo is named for the “five to six islands” that can be seen depending on the tides.

Image: Kenneth May/Instagram @busangroundfish and @liquidartsnetwork

The Basics

Name: Kenneth May

Occupation: Creative Director of the Liquid Arts Network and Assistant Professor

Where are you originally from? Indianapolis, Indiana

What area do you live in? Oryukdo, Nam-gu

How long have you lived there? Almost 11 years.

Why did you choose there? To cultivate a healthy lifestyle and find some serenity from the hustle and bustle of Busan while still staying within striking distance of the city’s festive areas.

Image: Kenneth May/Instagram @busangroundfish and @liquidartsnetwork

The Scene

What kind of people would you say tend to live in your area? The common misperception is that Oryukdo is an area for “silver seniors” but there is a mix of young professionals, families, and laid back international veterans who’ve lived in Busan for several years and moved out here for the same reasons I did. There is also a smattering of US military personnel. 

Do you know any of the neighbors or anyone in your building complex? When you live somewhere long enough as I have in Oryukdo, you end up knowing everyone and everyone ends up knowing you. I have friends and acquaintances throughout the entire apartment complex. It’s a very friendly area. I have regular dialogues with the market cashiers, the pharmacist, all the folks who go to the gym and sauna, the kids who ride their bikes and toss baseballs, and everyone who does their exercise walks around the same times as I do mine. I am Instagram friends with many of them.

What are the best local spots in your area? Oryukdo is a very beautiful and scenic area. Therefore, it is a common Busan tourist destination (even though it doesn’t feel like it). So, the best local spots are outdoors at the botanical gardens, in the woods, or along the coastline. I can put on my shoes and be on the Igidae National Park trails within five minutes. 

What kind of stores are within a 5-minute walk to your front door? Supermarkets, a variety of small restaurants, cafes, convenience stores, and all the other basic things like dry cleaners, in-home academies, etc..

What’s the view like from your living room? Sunrises can be spectacular and more often than not, these days, there is a clear view of the Japanese island Tsushima (Daemado in Korean) across the expanse of the ocean.

Image: Kenneth May/Instagram @busangroundfish and @liquidartsnetwork

Are there any restaurants or shops nearby in case you need a taste of home? There is one place near the entrance to Saint Mary’s Hospital. It’s called Gold Papa. They offer solid American diner fare. You can often see US military personnel dining there or walking out with large take out orders for the whole platoon.

Any recommendations on local restaurants in your area? Besides Gold Papa, not so much, and I like it that way. Living in Oryukdo is definitely a lifestyle choice that rewards those who like to spend time cooking in a nice kitchen. 

Are there any grocery shopping places nearby? Yes. There is a Home Plus Express and a small Top Mart, but with Coupang and Covid-19 as part of our modern reality, who needs to leave home for shopping?

Where could you pop out for a quick drink? There are two places that serve beer. The best thing to do though is open a bottle of wine, sit on your veranda, have the company you want to have, listen to the music you want to listen to, and take in the stunning views.

Is it a good area for kids to grow up in? It’s excellent and it strikes me as the place most similar to America that I’ve seen since moving to Busan ages ago. Kids can play in the numerous complex parks, ride their bikes, play catch, and run around without having to shout, “Car!”

Any good hangout spots to recommend? When you live in Oryukdo, the absolute best place to hang out is right at home, just as I described two questions ago.

Image: Kenneth May/Instagram @busangroundfish and @liquidartsnetwork

What are some of the stranger things you’ve seen in the area? Well, I have had a front-row seat to numerous typhoons. That’s always exciting. When the US aircraft carriers visit Busan, they dock at the nearby navy base, so watching a massive aircraft carrier back in to dock is rather peculiar. Sometimes fighter jets practice their formations and stunts in the sky outside my window as well.

How expensive would you rate the area? The common belief among the international residents who live here is that Oryukdo is excellent value. Many people consider it “too far” when it’s really not. You can drive along the Igidae National Park road and be on the Gwangan Bridge while only passing through two stoplights that are set to mostly be green.

Would you recommend your area to live in? I highly recommend it although it might not be for everyone. Living in Oryukdo promotes healthy habits and a strong sense of local community.

If there was any other place I could live in Busan it would be: When my last lease expired in 2016, I briefly flirted with the idea of moving to Marine City or Haeundae, but quickly snuffed the idea after realizing that I get more bang for my buck out here. So there is no other place I’d rather live.

Haps Staff
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