Today was our final day of scheduled activities, including a trip to the U.S. Consulate in Busan as well as Pusan National University. At the consulate, we met a U.S. diplomat who provided insightful background on present-day Korean politics from the U.S. Governemnt’s perspective and shared insight in U.S. goals in the near future to resolve Korean-Japanese tensions. One of the things that I thought was very interesting is that he said he has been both protested and praised while in Busan. Many elderly who survived the Korean War are extrememly grateful of the U.S. deploying in Busan and pushing back the enemy troops, while the younger, liberal political view in South Korea would like the U.S. troops to leave the country, and some have protested outside his office.
Next up was Pusan National University (In Korean it is a mix between the ‘b’ and ‘p’ sounds and while the city chose to be “Busan,” the university remained “Pusan”). The campus was full of hills and forest trees, and I hope for their sake they have a good shuttle system. With all that, it was all a very beautiful and natural campus. We received a quick tour of the mechanical engineering building, and it was filled to the brim with 3-D printers of all sizes, robotics, and metal/wood cutters and other tools. We walked in on a group of students testing their small robots with an arm-whacker to swing at red pillars and avoid blue pillars placed around a small arena. Our visit also included a detailed presentation on North Korea presented by a university professor who has personally been to North Korea. He went on to explain that North Korean leaders are not the negligent fools often perceived to be, but rather carefully maintaining a complete control over their nation and people.
Fast forward to dinner time, and I agree to go eat some live octopus near the fish market. Below is a short video where you can watch them squirm on the plate before we started eating. I will say it did not really taste like anything other than the sesame oil it was dipped in, but definitely a neat experience. (Make sure you chew right when you put it in your mouth or it will suck to your cheek, tongue, throat or whatever it can). While I did not run into any issues, one poor soul on our trip had one stick to his throat because he swallowed before chewing fully, and had to be ridiculed profusely.