My first real PIFF (Pusan International Film Festival) in where else? Pusan or Busan, South Korea…

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This year was the 12th annual Pusan International Film Festival and since I missed it last year despite being down here in the local area, I wasn’t about to miss it again given that I live in the city. However, before I was able to see the 3 movies I saw today, my outlook was a bit dim. Friends of mine were saying “You have to wait in HUGE lines & it won’t be worth it. You’ll probably get a movie or two that nobody wants to see.” Others were mentioning how hard it was for them to figure out how to secure tickets.

Nevertheless, I woke up this early Sunday morning around 8:30a, which isn’t that early for such a HUGELY demanded event like this and took my 50 minute subway ride (with two transfers 😉 to Jangsan Station, the end of line 3 (the green line) here in Busan. Again, you can spell the city’s name with a “P” or a “B.” I believe it started to be spelled with the letter “P” since foreigners and linguists pronounced it with more of a “P” sound. However, in recent years, there’s been more emphasis on trying to get it to it’s original Korean phonetic spelling which is with a “B” — as you can see in Hangul, Busan is spelled “부산” where the consonant “ㅂ” usually stands for the letter “B.” There is actually a consonant in Korean for the letter “P” which looks like this: “ㅍ.” Hopefully, this clears up the mystery why you have both spellings almost everywhere…

When I arrived at the Primus movie theatres** at Jangsan Station around 9:25a, where they were selling the tickets to any of the movie venues, it was starting to get busy, but far from any chaos I was expecting. Koreans start their days late & it looks like even the fans from all over the world were also starting their days late in line with the Koreans. While I failed to do any research on the movies I wanted to see, I just looked for the ones that seemed to be available and back to back in the schedule & hopefully get as many of them in on this one day I have “off” per week.

I chose the theatre, which happened to be the Megabox theatre off of Haeundae Station***, which had the most consecutive movies I could watch today.  I wanted to get as many as I could.  I approached the box office & asked what movies were sold out before even wasting a minute on looking through the details on each.  The movies that had several theatres dedicated to them were mostly sold out.  So, I ended up picking “White Night” (a Denmark flick), “Beyond the Years” (a Korean movie about “pan sori“) and “Une journe’e” (a French movie actually translated as “that day” in English).  After pondering for a bit, I thought I wanted to get as much International exposure as possible and went back up to see if I could get a refun 5 minutes after I bought them & they said “no, you have to try to sell them” at a booth in front of them.  So, I registered my tickets for the sale of the 2nd flick and ended up buying tickets instead to “Daughter of Chorolque” (a documentary about women miners in Bolivia).

“White Night” was impressive.  It had a great plot and the acting was decent.  I’m no movie critic, but it was my favorite out of the 3.  The next movie, “Daughter of Chorolque” was well made by the first time movie producer/director, but I was tired & ended up sleeping through a bit of it.  The movie is quite timely given all the mine accidents that have been reported in recent weeks and months.  The graphic images of the accidents that occur to the female miners were really appalling and the stories of the men who left their wives were sad.  The last movie “Une journe’e” well really well made & I liked the way they recounted events in the movie through different perspectives of different characters.  My belief that French men are cheaters was reinforced, but at the same time, the story was sad as well.

**To get to the Primus Movie Theatres really easy, just get off the Jangsan Station (the last station on line 2 on the east side).  Walk out Exit 9 on the far west side of the subway station.  There is a set of flat escalators at the end of the exit.  Just take that up & pop out the left & walk into the building & take the elevator to the 7th floor.

***For the Megabox theatres, just stop at the Haeundae Station and get out exit #1 heading towards sFUNz, a large department store about 2 blocks away.  Before reaching the department store, you should see the Shee-weh (“outside town”)  Bus terminal on the immediate right of the exit.  Exit #5 & #3 go toward Haeundae beach which has a lot of festivities for the festival.


Filed under Entertainment, Globalization, Interesting..., Reviews

10 responses to “My first real PIFF (Pusan International Film Festival) in where else? Pusan or Busan, South Korea…

  1. keith

    hi there!
    i am planning my trip to the PIFF 2008 and this would be my first trip to South Korea and Busan.
    can i please get some good advices from you on how to get around the city?
    my email address is
    thanks alot!


  2. Not sure what you’re looking for exactly Keith, but I’m assuming you’ve already found the PIFF website ( In terms of getting around Busan, check out their city website: You can also check out our company’s local website: — it has quite of few links to stuff in Busan. Getting around, I’d recommend the subway (

    What else were you looking for?

    Make sure you buy tickets early for the good movies…they get sold out VERY QUICKLY!

  3. Hello, I was wondering if you could tell me how long does it take to travel between the two different PIFF sites of Haeundae and Nampo-Dong? Would PIFF provide a shuttle service? (The PIFF websites really isn’t much helpful beyond the most basic information.) I may have to travel back and forth when I go for PIFF ’08 and I have no idea how practical it is to do that …

  4. Well, it’s about 25+ subway stops apart which I’d estimate about 55 minutes from Haeundae to Nampodong by subway. A cab could probably do it in 35 mins? I don’t know if they have a shuttle service…when you get down here, you can ask…they have people to ask. However, you can also call the phone number on the website — I talked to someone in English the other day.

  5. Mui

    Could you please tell me how to book the tickets in advance? I wasn’t able to access to the website provided by PIFF. Since I live overseas, I cannot book accept online. Is there other ways or other companies that can help mebook with a fee?


  6. When are you coming? I could buy them for you, I guess…and meet you. However, it depends on the quantity you want & if you’ll be here before the movies.

    You can’t get the tickets now, but you can on the 24th — maybe it’s just because it’s too early:

  7. Sebastian

    Oh bugger, I wished I had thought to ask your help in securing tickets – didn’t even cross my mind. Now I’m reading about movies getting sold out and night-long queues at the theatres, which isn’t good as I had planned about 25 screenings over the week.

    Do you think I still have a shot at getting most of them if I go straight to Haeundae after arriving at Busan mid-afternoon? I’m not going for the opening or closing so that doesn’t bother me. It’s the general screenings, outdoor theatre and midnight passion screenings that I’ve planned that I’m worried about.

    Also, where is the best place to get the PIFF Cinema Ticket (a card offering 20+7 tickets)? And which of the cinemas would have a shorter queue, if I wanted to go to one where I can straight off secure as many of my planned screenings as possible? Primus?

    Sorry bout all the questions. I did try and call the Ticketing office but they weren’t too helpful, as they were struggling with English.

  8. It’s hard to get tix for the more popular ones coming straight in. However, you may want to give them a call at the Seoul offices (one gal speaks in English) about how to get a hold of one of the 30% same day sale tix.

    Don’t know where to get the card unfortunately. I was wanting one as well, but at the same time, I tried to buy 10 movies along with the Midnight movies, but only got like 6 tickets. It may be tough to get the 20+7 card. I wanted it too, but looks like lots of the movies sold out in the first 2 mins…

    No worries on the questions. Feel free to ask away…

  9. Paco


    can you tell me which station i would get off at on the subway to go the theaters in nampodong?

  10. Looks like Jagalchi Station, Exit 7 is your best bet. Enjoy.

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