Busan’s famous fish market prepares for its new pier

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Busan’s famous fish market prepares for its new pier

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The fish market smells like the sea, but it sounds like Gyeongsang province ― the machine-gun way of speaking here echoes off the walls. It’s the noise of middle-aged women picking up and slicing up fish while they chat with each other and with customers eating and drinking. Such is the atmosphere of Jagalchi Market, in Busan’s Nampo district.
The fishery market opened in 1946 and quickly became a popular tourist spot. Sixty years later, the fishery market will move to a newly constructed building in early July.
The building is designed in the shape of three flying geese, though the interior is still under construction. For two years now, the market’s 500 merchants have been doing business in a temporary building nearby while they wait for the new building to be finished. The old building, built in 1970, was in danger of collapse and had to be demolished.
The new building has a floor space of 25,000 square meters, or 6 acres, with seven stories above the ground. Raw fish restaurants and dry fish markets will be located on the first and second floors, while marine exhibition halls will be set up on the third and fourth floors, seafood restaurants on the fifth floor, cafes and bars on the sixth floor and a sky lounge on the seventh floor.
There will also be a small park in front of the building, as well as walking paths and benches.
“The old building sat close to the sea and many cars were parked around the building, which made it difficult for visitors to get close to the sea,” said Lee Sang-jip, an official of a fishery processing association in Busan. “The environment [at the new building] will be much better, with wider roads and parks.”
Lee Hui-beom, a Busan city official, said the city plans to promote Jagalchi Market, the planned Lotte World skyscraper and Busan PIFF Square in the Nampo district as new tourist attractions.
The merchants have high hopes for the new market.
“These days, it’s hard to make even 150,000 won ($158) in sales per day, with such a bad economy,” said Mun I-ja, a 65-year-old woman who has been in the business for 50 years. “I hope more young customers come visit.”
They also hope that the new market brings the Japanese tourists back to Busan. According to sources in the Busan tourism industry, 60 percent of the 500,000 Japanese tourists who came to Busan last year visited Jagalchi Market.
“The temporary building was shabby looking and was making it difficult to lure tourists, but the new market is neat and clean, and will be a lot more attractive,” said Lee Sang-jip.


by Kim Kwang-jong
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