Discrimination Editor's Picks

Haeundae announces new name for ‘foreigner’ zone

Photo: Valentina Yachichurova/Flickr
Photo: Valentina Yachichurova/Flickr Licensed under the Creative Commons
Lee Tae-hoon
Written by Lee Tae-hoon
The photo shows the new Sun & Fun Zone sign on the Haeundae Beach on July 31, 2015 / Photo: Courtesy of the Haeundae District Office

The photo shows the new Sun & Fun Zone sign on the Haeundae Beach on July 31, 2015 / Photo: Courtesy of the Haeundae District Office

The Haeundae District Office has decided to rename a discriminatory “foreigner zone” as the Sun and Fun Zone and to allow anyone to use the area.

In late May, the office agreed to scrap its plan to have the Special Zone for Foreigners on Haeundae Beach and find an alternative name through a poll in collaboration with The Korea Observer.

The Office agreed to rename this zone as the “Sun and Fun Zone” which received the most votes on the poll.

“We plan to put up the new sign, Sun and Fun Zone, next week and will offer a small gift to those who suggested the winning name,” Sohn Jeong-sik, head of operations at Haeundae District Office, said.

He said they plan to allow anyone to use the area regardless of nationality or skin color.

“We were pleasantly surprised to find out that the Sun and Fun Zone received the most votes in the survey because it is the slogan of Haeundae Beach. The name accurately conveys the spirit of Haeundae Beach and the theme of the parasol-free zone.”

“Sun and Fun Zone,” proposed by Samanthi Kariyawasam and seconded by Susanne Bergmann, topped the poll with 124 votes, followed by the Parasol-Free Zone with 96, the Sports Zone with 49, the Sunshine Zone with 48 and the Activity Zone with 38.

Samanthi said she could come up with the name because she was in a “fun” mood and stayed in Busan early May. The expat from South Asia, however, said that she was not aware that her proposed name coincided with the slogan of the beach.

“Now I have another reason to visit Haeundae Beach,” she said after being informed of the Haeundae Office’s decision to name the area as the Sun and Fun Zone.

Both Samanthi and Susanne will receive a gift in appreciation of suggesting the winning name when they visit the district office.

The Haeundae District Office drew a great deal of criticism for its decision to have a foreigner zone with the excuse of securing a parasol-free zone claiming that they wanted to cater the needs of foreigners who prefer tanning or engaging in sports activities rather than staying under umbrellas on the beach.

Panicked by the snowballing attention over its alleged racial segregation policy, an official of the Haeundae Office told some local media outlets that it would name the disputed area as Sports Zone, one of the names that expats suggested on The Korea Observer’s website.

The office, however, realized that it failed to honor the pledge to properly consult with expats to weigh in on the most appropriate term to describe the parasol-free area and requested the Korea Observer to run a poll.

The office also paid close attention to the opinion of some expats who suggested not naming the area.

“Why name it at all? Why not just have an area that’s parasol free?” a netizen with the screen name Sassafraster suggested.

In this regard, Sohn Jeong-sik said that he agreed with the view of Sassafraster but the office will name it as the Sun and Fun Zone as it accurately describes the spirit of the beach and received most votes in the poll.

About the author

Lee Tae-hoon

Lee Tae-hoon

Lee Tae-hoon is publisher at The Korea Observer. He previously worked for the Korea Times and Arirang TV. You can reach him at lee@koreaobserver.com.

  • woonawoona

    I like how this site just tells it like it is. Every country has problems, including Korea. It only makes sense to highlight these problems in order for solutions to be found.

  • smithington

    This is what it took you 3 days to come up? Some claim that they were “panicked”? No mention of the fact that you guys ran the poll and never corrected it for 2 months after they already announced a name. Is there a single shred of evidence this is true? No Korean papers are reporting it, I can’t find any mention of it on the government’s site. I’m sure if this is true, they would have no problem putting a notice on their page right?

    The sun and fun logo that you butchered by resizing it has been on the Haeundae site for years.

    I also notice you stole the image from here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/48090400@N05/4907162843/ and have failed to properly attribute it as required, thus violating copyright. Nor have you indicated that your image is available under the same license as required.

    • Tae-hoon Lee

      Thanks, smithington. I didn’t know the attribution is missing.

      • smithington

        You’re still dodging the question and responsibility. What evidence is there that any of this is true?

        you still haven’t attributed this properly. If you can’t even follow simple copyright guidelines, how can we trust a thing printed on this website?

        “You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.”


        • Tae-hoon Lee

          Yes, the link was missing. Thanks once again and you were right once again.

          As for the evidence, you will soon see because Susanne Bergmann’s husband plans to visit the office to pick up the gift for proposing the name.

          And probably people will take pictures and upload it.

          If it is named as Sports Zone, my article must be wrong and misleading.

          But I think it is very natural to cast doubts about the credibility of the article as you indicated, Korean media outlets ran articles that the name will be changed as Sports Zone.

          • smithington

            The name you claim won is already a name associated with Haeundae. The government put out a notice indicating the name would be changed to sports zone on their website. In the absence of an identical notice indicating the name would be changed to Sun and Fun Zone, crediting the Korea Observer for the change, I wouldn’t believe a thing you posted.

          • ExposingtheKO

            Smithington, have you witnessed today’s other mess? This rag accused hongik university gym to its 24,000 Facebook followers this morning of being racist, based on a kid from Finland. After a Korea observer YouTube video is posted, it’s clear the gym was not banning foreigners. Rather freshmen of all nationalities. This disgusting and dangerous rag needs to be exposed for the cheap horrible mess it is. Also why is james hyams reporting on Korea from his bed in Australia. The list of negatives from these hacks is unending.

          • smithington

            Given the fact that I had to both point out that the office changed the name two months ago, and several times how to properly attribute the picture they were using and that they get most of their stories pre-done from facebook, reddit or craigslist, one has to wonder if either of these champions of the masses has to have someone come over and pre-chew their food. They seem completely incapable of doing anything under their own power.

            and still no posting from the gu office indicating the name will be changed again or that there was any kind of contest. I’m ready to call it.. the question is whether or not this was incompetence or intentional dishonesty and fraud.

          • smithington

            Tick tock Tae-hoon. Still no official announcement about the name change and the longer there isn’t one the further and further your credibility sinks.

          • ExposingtheKO

            The sound of silence

          • smithington

            Another day, and again no mention of this contest or name change that you claim Tae-hoon. The walls are starting to close in.

          • smithington

            Come on Tae-hoon it’s been a whole week and the government still hasn’t acknowledged your claim. They made such a nice press release about changing the name to Sports Zone, where is the press release about your contest and changing the name to match the existing haundae slogan? Your credibility is on the line here, what little of it you have left.

          • smithington

            Just thought we should have another update for any future readers that happen by:

            The government still has failed to acknowledge a single claim you’ve made here. How long does it take you to get your alleged contact at the district office to announce this supposed name change? hot tip to James, that is how you use the word “supposed” you know where there is great doubt to the veracity of the way something is characterized.

    • Broon

      Good job Smithington, I’m glad someone is holding this rag to account. It really annoys me all this foreigner click baiting bullsh#t and fake outrage that they publish. Every single article is either factually incorrect, a total misrepresentation, or entirely made up.

      KO is an epic fail of the worst kind and portrays foreigners in Korea as a bunch of constantly offended neurotics. Tae-hoon Lee, please stop writing this utter drivel.

  • Broon

    ‘Sun and Fun’ ….. Amanthi said she could come up with the name because she was in a “fun” mood.

    Wow…. Great journalism as usual!!!

    Why is the Korea Observer trying to turn this ‘name issue’ into a ‘racial segregation’ story? I lived in Busan for several years and it is not the American Deep South during slavery!

    Your reporting of phony outrage is simply an effort to shit stir and is a total embarrassment to every sane foreigner who does not pretend to be offended, simply to have something to complain about. This kind of political correctness is destroying the US so why bring it to Korea? Do you really think they were planning to turn Haeundae beach into apartheid South Africa?

    All this site ever does is rip into Korea (mostly unfairly) to provide click bait for dissatisfied foreigners.

    • http://whoismaja.blog.me/ Queen Maja

      Did you see what happened throughout several social media sites after they announced the “foreigner zone?” People from different parts of the globe felt it was extremely racially driven. I was extremely shocked by the “Chinese only zone” that screamed, ‘please keep the Chinese away from us.’

      I’m not commenting on the journalistic abilities of the writers here. I’m just stating that large amounts of international people were indeed extremely offended and upset by the original planning of these ‘zones’ (which you said was not true).

      • ExposingtheKO

        the ‘foreigner zone’ involved zero racism, zero. It was a slightly misguided attempt by Busan to improve the beach. Don’t bring your PC bullcrap to Korea, it will rightly fall on death ears.

        • http://whoismaja.blog.me/ Queen Maja

          Which I get, but initially people did not feel that way. And to just say no one felt that way because I didn’t, makes no sense. I was a part of the over 100 and something comment thread about the topic in two different FB groups. It happened, people were pissed and confused.

          This isn’t about being PC. This is about correcting your first statement that people didn’t feel that this was about race.

          • http://whoismaja.blog.me/ Queen Maja

            …because they did.

          • Broon

            People were not genuinely ‘confused or offended’. They were simply desperate
            to be outraged at something and used a click bait article from the KO
            as their excuse. Why do a bunch of PC sheeple have to turn EVERYTHING
            into a matter of race and discrimination? When they know damn well it

            Is ‘China town’ offensive? Is ‘Western food’ racist? Is ‘Han-u’
            (Korean beef) discriminatory?

            Many foreigners including myself referred to the left hand side of
            Haeundae beach as the ‘foreigner area/zone’ for years, before all
            this mock outrage started. Not because it was surrounded by barbed
            wire fences and guard posts and located next to the ‘Chinese
            ghetto’…… but because that was where most foreigners congregated
            to play volleyball and other sports.

            People are sick and tired of this PC outrage at everything and constant
            state of perpetual offence. Why come to Korea, one of the most
            ethnically homogeneous nations in the world if you just want to
            lecture them on multiculturalism?

          • http://whoismaja.blog.me/ Queen Maja

            You actually used the word ‘sheeple?’ Not interested and reading anymore of this. I was originally interested in your opinion.

          • Broon


            ‘An individual that allows the influences of different forms of media and group members to hold great sway in the formation of attitudes, behaviour and opinion.’

            ‘An individual that forfits their right to choose in favor of inclusion in groupthink and what is viewed as popular.’

            ‘People unable to think for themselves. Followers. Lemmings. Those with no cognitive abilities of their own.’

            …… I could not have picked a more perfect word. Bye!

  • ExposingtheKO

    So let me get this straight. The name ‘chosen’ by the poll voters is also the haeundae ‘slogan’. This sounds like a hatchet job, you must provide clear evidence that it was the name chosen by the poll and evidence it. Otherwise it appears that you have spent four days trying to find the best way to slither out of this sticky mess. Evidence is needed or I will start exposing this rag as far and wide as is possible.

    • smithington

      If you vote you can see the results, which match what he’s written, but, i only checked that now. I should have checked it 4 days ago, but I didn’t notice they had one option which matched an existing slogan. They may have spent the last 4 days using VPNs to artificially boost that choice and that’s why it took them so long to post about it.

      • ExposingtheKO

        Even If they are telling the truth, the fact remains that they fucked up. I wish that this issue had never been mentioned four days ago then the’sports zone’ signs would have been up and the KO exposed without time to fix it. They are THE worst publication out there.

        • smithington

          The sport zone signs likely are still up. Sun & fun is an existing slogan which is probably also around on some signage, which is why I wouldn’t believe any pictures from there claiming the name has been changed. The government went to a big deal to announce the name change to Sports Zone in May. I don’t remotely believe they’re going to change it again today for some crappy online blog.

          • ExposingtheKO

            It’s a monumental fuck up and Tae hoon has failed to admit this, instead creating an article that claims ownership of the existing slogan. This rag is incapable of checking details, following up on clear leads, and of investigation . James Hyams seems to be on gardening leave at the moment, but Taehoon seems to be taking over his mantle as the King of bullsh*t

          • smithington

            If this is supposedly all said and done, why is the poll still running? Why would they even let the poll run this long? The zone was named and opened long ago.

          • ExposingtheKO

            I just voted on it, so I’m guessing there must be another naming of the beach?
            Taehoon Lee, why is it still up and trunning?

  • smithington

    You hacks can’t even get an original name. is there anything you won’t steal? http://www.iks.or.kr/english/aboutko/introduction.asp

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