Reborn, regenerated cultural spaces of Busan

Written and Photographed by Travel Writer Mun Cheol-jin

Reborn, regenerated cultural spaces of Busan
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Traveling in search of attractive places has received a great deal of attention these days. The destination is even better if it is not just a pretty space but also a place where you can feel the local culture and sentiments at the same time. Let me introduce regenerated cultural spaces that have turned old and outdated alleys into fresh, sparkling venues. Let’s go and visit the regenerated cultural spaces of Busan that will make you feel “hip” just by being there!

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Mangmi-dong B-ConGround

A space that was once dark and gloomy under an overpass, barely used as a parking lot for locals, has been transformed dramatically after encountering culture, shopping and entertainment venues. Isn’t the expression “usefulness of space” something that we should attach to a place like this?

As you can see from the combination of “B” from “Busan” and “CON” from “containers,” B-ConGround is made of 180 containers, the idea of which stemmed from how containers symbolize the port city of Busan.

A colorful procession of containers spans some 800m in an empty space under the city highway that crosses downtown Busan. You cannot help but stop walking to look at the scene of containers shaped like Lego blocks filling the empty space under the overpass. You would want to find “hip” places like playing with a picture puzzle and enjoy taking pictures all day long.
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Once you enter a crowd of containers out of curiosity, a surprising world starts to unfold, including art galleries where you can enjoy artworks or that hold various cultural experience events in addition to a shopping ground with many different cafes, restaurants and shops, and a playground, which is an outdoor space to play. Across from Mangmi Intersection, you will find a community space used as a meeting place for residents, and a family deck used as a creative space for disabled artists.

As the empty space under the overpass, which once seemed useless to be used for anything, has been reborn as a cultural complex, the atmosphere of the village also changed. From a long-standing auto repair shop and an old public bath house near the playground to Japanese-style restaurants and a local bookstore, it is evident that this will soon become a place to which many Instagrammers will make a pilgrimage.


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Haeundae Daelim Mansion

To the passersby who have no clue as to what lies inside, it seems like a typical apartment unit. This single apartment building, located on Haeundae Beach where five-star hotels and luxurious imported car showrooms are situated, and its wooden door plate on a reddish brown-colored tile exterior make you come to the realization of the long history of the building. The building’s name is “Daelim Mansion.” No one is interested in an old and worn-out “mansion” but people with smartphones in their hands continue to flock to a space that even tourists would just pass by.

Without any signs or indications, “Daelim Mansion is hot these days thanks to cool shops that are hidden in some of the spaces in the apartment where residents still reside. It is fun to visit these shops as if you were hunting for treasures while moving up and down the corridors and stairs where the old vibes still remain. It feels like going to a friend's house during our childhood years. The imagination for placing commercial spaces in between residential houses is simply amazing. It is even more attractive because it is a space that only people who know about this hidden gem can visit.
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“NONFICTION,” a body cosmetic brand that has stood out for its efforts to visualize scents, opened two showrooms here. One of the showrooms is being managed by an employee but the other is operated unmanned. Once you pass through an old hallway and enter the showroom, a completely different world unfolds as if you have teleported to a different time and space. The interior was decorated with such a sensuous and sophisticated atmosphere that you will not believe it if someone told you that it is still inhabited by actual residents. The corner area with a mint-colored chair in front of a large whole glass window is particularly attractive. It is the perfect Instagram spot that is popular these days.

In addition, the pop-up store of the women's clothing brand “eunoia” and other local designer's brands as well as “Tart Hooligan” are also established on each floor of the apartment building. Although they are all located inside a building of the same shape, these stores exude completely different vibes. Comparing the interior designs that express different personalities of the shops is another fun thing to do at Daelim Mansion. This is a place that shows the trend of commercial spaces these days, providing experiences and increasing empathy instead of merely selling goods to people.


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Yeongdo AREA6

Yeongdo, where Korea’s first modern dockyard was built, flourished as people and money flocked to the region but eventually began to go downhill with the decline of the shipbuilding industry. As the center of Busan moved from Nampo-dong to Haeundae, the decline of Yeongdo accelerated further. Samjin Amook played a significant role in the re-rise of Yeongdo, which was remembered as the outskirts of Busan for a while. Samjin Amook, which has been making fish cakes in Busan since 1953, started to attract tourists by building a fish cake experience center and history museum, and Yeongdo took the center stage once again.

Samjin Amook has launched another project for the revival of Yeongdo. This project is “AREA6,” a cultural complex that opened right next to the main branch of Samjin Amook. The term “AREA” is a combination of “A” from ARTISAN, which means a master craftsman; “RE” from reproduction; and “A” from AVENUE, which means an alley. “6” refers to not only the six houses, which had existed there before this building was built, but also 6 PM when merchants of the neighboring Bongnae Market close down their stores for the day. It is the number showing determination that the building will continue to be lit up even after 6 PM to attract people. As its name suggests, AREA6 is a conceptual space where brands, products and master craftsmen who have been in the region for a long time seek and promote local revitalization as they work late into the night.
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The first store you see at the entrance of the first floor is Songwol Towel. It is one of the most notable companies in Busan that sells high-quality towels and bath products. Various items to remember the trip to Busan, including mini towels made with symbols of Busan, will grab your attention. The Busan-style premium dried fish brand, “Ineo Ajimae," a local traditional liquor curation space “Busan Judang," “Columnist,” which sells creators’ art posters, and the lifestyle brand, “CHI PROJECT," which reinterprets traditional Korean culture and crafts in a modern way, are also catching people’s eyes.

Located on the second floor is a gallery and the leather fabric brand “WSL.” “WSL” is operated in the form of a cafe where you can experience various leather products and, also, drink beverages. If you go up to the third floor following the stairs, a rooftop awaits you. A cool chair lies upon where the warm sunlight falls down. It is a perfect place to take a break while enjoying the surrounding scenery.

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  • Address

    B-ConGround: 49-1, Mangmibeonyeong-ro, Suyeong-gu, Busan
    Daelim Mansion (NONFICTION Busan Branch): 302, Haeundaehaebyeon-ro, Haeundae-gu, Busan
    AREA6: 37-3, Taejong-ro, 105beon-gil, Yeongdo-gu, Busan
  • Inquiry

    B-ConGround 051-714-4131~4
    Daelim Mansion (NONFICTION Busan Branch) 051-747-4096
  • Closing Dates

    B-ConGround: Varies by resident store
    Daelim Mansion (NONFICTION Busan Branch): Open all year round
    AREA6: Every Monday
  • Hours

    B-ConGround: Varies by resident store
    Daelim Mansion (NONFICTION Busan Branch): 11:00-20:30
    AREA6: 11:00-19:00
  • Service Fees

    B-ConGround: Varies by resident store
    Daelim Mansion (NONFICTION Busan Branch): Varies by product
    AREA6: Varies by resident store
  • Traffic Information

    B-ConGround
    Exit 2, Mangmi Station, Subway Line 3 → 1-minute walk
    Parking: B-ConGround Parking Lot (Underneath Suyeong Overpass)

    Daelim Mansion (NONFICTION Busan Branch)
    Exit 1, Haeundae Station, Subway Line 2 → 10-minute walk
    No Parking Lot (please use paid parking lot nearby)

    AREA6
    Exit 6, Nampo Station, Subway Line 1 → Yeongdodaegyo Bridge (Nampo Station) Bus Stop, Transfer to Bus Haeundae-gu 2 82, or 85 → Yeongdo Post Office Bus Stop, 5-minute walk
    Parking: Samjin Amook Parking Lot
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