Bridges across the world have played an important role as iconic landmarks of a city or country. And then some, like Gwangan’s Diamond Bridge, are just plain cool. One can only imagine the amount of babies conceived following a good viewing from the beach.
A Cool Bridge
By Bobby McGill
Photos by Robert Koehler
BUSAN, South Korea – Yah, you’ve seen it. Any Google image search on “Busan” will bring the “Diamond Bridge” right up at the top of your results, and if you’ve taken a gander in person on a clear evening, you have, as anyone else, emitted the requisite ‘oohhs and ahhhs.”
No argument here, it is a very cool bridge. But as science strives to reduce all things of beauty under the sun to the most basic nuts and bolts, we here at Busan Haps seek to do the same.
The bridge opened in 2003 and links 49 Plaza in Namcheon-dong, with Centum City near Haeundae. If you are looking for a quick escape back to Haeundae after a night in another city-spot, you will no doubt be questioned by the taxi driver with the simple word: “Bridgey?” To which you should, barring you are too cheap to kick in an extra buck, respond “Ne.”
At 7.42 kilometers from start to finish, the Diamond Bridge is the longest cross-sea bridge in Korea, as well as the first double-decker marine bridge on the penisula. According to the city, it took eight years to build, consuming the labors of 1.6 million workers with 28 different companies, at a total cost just under 790 billion KRW. The structure was designed to withstand a first level earthquake and, as demonstrated by Maemi and her 160 mph winds back in 2003, a category 5 typhoon.
While out on the bridge, you get outstanding views of the Gwangan Beach coastline, the Oryuk Islets, Mt. Hwangryeong, Dongbaek Island, and Dalmaji Hill. And, if you are witnessing it from the shore, you can “oohh and ahhh” at the over 100,000 lights, some of which change colors and hues in the evening to give a dazzling effect off the water below. One wonders how many children were brought forth into the world after a romantic night on the beach staring out at the bridge.
Last May, the city opened the span up to pedestrians, and upwards of 10,000 people made the trek across. There was even Busan’s New Prime Orchestra whipping out some tunes during the event. I have as yet been unable to confirm if they played any Simon and Garfunkel tunes concerning “troubled waters” but, suffice it to say, it was a hoot.
While the bridge serves the practical purpose of getting you through to Haeundae quicker than pre-2003, lets keep it simple: It looks really cool.
Since construction of the London Bridge, long span bridges across the world have played an important role as iconic landmarks of a city or a country. The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the Brooklyn Bridge in New York (which I understand you can actually buy) and the Diamond Bridge in Busan, play a role not only as transportation structures, but also something that government officials and ordinary citizens can brag about over drinks.
At present, the Diamond Bridge ranks 70th in the world for the longest span from tower to tower at 500 meters, so if you are drinking with someone from Japan, hold your bragging. The Akashi Kaikyo Bridge in Kobe spans 1,991 meters from tower to tower, outdistancing the number two Xihoumen Bridge in China by a whopping 341 meters. But hey, ours has prettier lights.