The last time I visited Busan, I accompanied a Seoul hardcore punk band (Shout out to Chadburger!) on their weekend tour. Not a musician myself, I came along for the adventure and offered my moral support. It was either 2008 or 2009, and I recall their show coincided with the Busan International Film Festival. After the raucous concert, the band and I went to Haeundae Beach to come down from the craziness that is a punk rock show. Haeundae Beach is a very crowded, famous beach during the summer, but it was ours for the taking that night. There was a beach chair thrown into the sea. It was also that night I ran into my friend Lex. Years before she became my great friend and urban exploration partner with Isaiah, Lex was an acquaintance I knew from my undergraduate days at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. I can point to this night as the moment where our friendship was set in motion. After that, I saw Lex more often, usually at Punk/Hardcore shows at Skunk Hell in Hongdae. Throughout the years, our life paths have gone in different directions, but we have always been able to reconnect. Our chance meeting on that Korean beach nine years ago meeting set the dominoes in motion to for me to get into urban exploration, explore photography, and eventually start this blog. I can’t wait to see Lex in person to thank her for all that she has meant to me all these years.
Fast forward a decade, I catch a glimpse of the album work of a Busan indie band called Say Sue Me. The cover of Where We Were Together offers many clues to where this place might be. A simple Google Maps search will retrieve the results in a few seconds. It took me a while to get down to Busan to see it myself. One reason, friends had visited and documented before, taking away some of the urgency to go there myself. Also, in the interluding months, the discoveries piled up. An abandoned Cancer Lab here, a few closed-down universities there. The water park got pushed down the list of priorities. But, alas, dear reader, I finally made it down. Here my photos from my visit in late August of 2019.
First, let’s take a look at the water park in better days. I am amazed that this place hadn’t been cleared ten years ago. What was state of the art in the 1970s, became obsolete quickly with the development of huge and more thrilling waterparks throughout the country.
Despite the Beachtown Apartments being over forty years old, the management maintains the bright exterior, juxtaposing with the faded colors, rust, and wild plant growth across the street.
Inside the building, on the top floor, I was surprised to find a long vacated English academy. The rooms were named inspiring words like “Hope,” “Wish,” and “Courage.” Someone had been squatting and binge-drinking in Courage. There were still Christmas decorations on the walls, and evidence of games played on the whiteboard.
Overall, this water park is worth a visit for just the external shots alone. Standing around the defunct waterpark, you can’t help but imagine all the fun moments shared by families at this place, unlike at an abandoned hospital. What motivated Say Sue Me to use the waterpark as the cover of their album? Do the members of the band share my sentiment of wonder at what this place used to be? If I had the chance to interview them, I would only ask them questions related to Where We Were Together.
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