Guryongpo

Guryongpo Culture Street

Just to the east of Pohang lies the community of Guryongpo. An eup under Pohang’s jurisdiction, it was at one point the largest fishing base around the East Sea, known for being a mackerel center after the Houjou Fishing Sailor Group’s success in the area in 1909.1 In 2011, the city followed in the footsteps of Gunsan and Incheon (Jemulpo) and began restoring an entire street of colonial era buildings. Before this, its Japanese-ness gave it merit as a film location for an early 1990s drama.

Following the curvature of the coastline, this preserved section lies behind the waterfront on Guryongpo-gil, now simply known as the Modern Culture and History Street (근대 문화 거리). However, a number of the structures here have been re-painted, re-windowed, and re-roofed over the last few decades. Before restoration, some buildings still had Japanese language newspapers lining the spaces in the walls, while the Hashimoto house still had old tatami hidden under its newer flooring.2 Therefore, some of the post-2011 reconstructions arguably detract from the area’s authenticity.

Similar to Jinhae and Jangseungpo, Guryongpo was developed along the western side of its harbor. Though the port didn’t significantly develop until around 1923 with the construction of a breakwater and harbor,3 Japanese migrants supposedly first arrived after over-fishing the waters around the Wakayama and Okayama prefectures.4 Commercial fishing began around 1902 as fifty snapper boats arrived from Yamaguchi, Japan, thus taking Guryongpo from a two household stead to a developing locality.5 Guryongpo took shape as a migrant fishing village when fifty households moved to the area between 1910 and 1912.6 One of the probable reasons for the development of migrant fishing villages across Korea was the issuing of policies, like the Charter of Fishing between Chosun and Japan” from December of 1889, allowing Japanese fishermen access to Korean coastlines.7 However, the caveat was that only residents living on the Korean peninsula would be given license to fish these waters.8 Therefore, Guryongpo may have been, at least partially, a product of colonial fishing policies. As it developed into a port of call between Busan and Ullengdo, it became an incredibly modern settlement with a cinema, billiards hall, two hospitals, restaurants, stores, inns, etc.9 Guryongpo also maintained water supply, oiling, and warehouse facilities.10

Like every Japanese community, Guryongpo had a Shinto shrine. The Yongwangdang Shrine was erected on a hill facing the port, now known as Guryongpo Park, but was supposedly demolished and rebuilt in 1956. The Shinto structure had managed to avoid getting torn down all the way up to 2008. Unfortunately, the shrine was deemed structurally unsound and replaced with a colorful hanok styled structure shortly after. While nothing remains of the original Yongwangdang Shrine, the stairs leading to it have an interesting story.

Constructed in 1944, Japanese settlers engraved the names of colonists who had contributed to the development of Guryongpo Port in stone and mounted them on either side of this staircase in their honor. Post-liberation, the local Korean residents cemented over the pillars and turned them upside down. Then, in 1960, while the Chunghongak martyrs shrine was being built, the names of Chunghongak sponsors were inscribed on these old pillars.

Also at the top of the staircase in Guryongpo Park is this curious pillar built for one Dogawa Yaseubro. He was a Japanese colonist who contributed to the infrastructure (port, breakwater, roads) in Guryongpo. The monument is silicified wood from Japan. Built in 1944 it was then cemented over by local residents after World War II, meaning we have no idea what was written here.

petrified wood monument guryongpo

Sitting at a small intersection facing the harbor is the former Hashimoto house. Unlike some of the other structures on this street, it has been beautifully restored – inside and out. Of note are the windows, doors, and woodwork, most of which appear to be original. The decorative, geometric railing along the full length windows on the second floor is stylistically typical of Japanese colonial homes. This design has been seen in windows and banisters across the peninsula. With an indoor two-stall bathroom and kitchen, this house is representative of the kind of wealth that some settlers were able to obtain while living and working in Korea. It now serves as the Modern History Museum of Guryongpo.

hashimoto house interior hashimoto house railing hashimoto house 2nd floor hall

To see the entire Flickr gallery, click here.

Footnotes
1Chung-Shin Park and Tai-Young Kim, “Formation and Transformation of Japanese Migrant Fishing Village Colonies in Korea,” Journal of Asian Architecture and Building Engineering 10, no. 2 (2011): 293.
2
소읍기행 포항 구룡포,” 서라벌블로그입니다 (2010).
3
Chung-Shin Park and Tai-Young Kim, “Formation and Transformation of Japanese Migrant Fishing Village Colonies in Korea,” Journal of Asian Architecture and Building Engineering 10, no. 2 (2011): 293.
4
Historical Tour Place Pohang – 근대 문화 거리, made by Exploring Korea, (YouTube, 2014)
5
Chung-Shin Park and Tai-Young Kim, “Formation and Transformation of Japanese Migrant Fishing Village Colonies in Korea,” Journal of Asian Architecture and Building Engineering 10, no. 2 (2011): 293.
6
Chung-Shin Park and Tai-Young Kim, “Formation and Transformation of Japanese Migrant Fishing Village Colonies in Korea,” Journal of Asian Architecture and Building Engineering 10, no. 2 (2011): 293.
7
Chung-Shin Park and Tai-Young Kim, “Formation and Transformation of Japanese Migrant Fishing Village Colonies in Korea,” Journal of Asian Architecture and Building Engineering 10, no. 2 (2011): 290.
8
Chung-Shin Park and Tai-Young Kim, “Formation and Transformation of Japanese Migrant Fishing Village Colonies in Korea,” Journal of Asian Architecture and Building Engineering 10, no. 2 (2011): 290.
9
Historical Tour Place Pohang – 근대 문화 거리, made by Exploring Korea, (YouTube, 2014)
10Chung-Shin Park and Tai-Young Kim, “Formation and Transformation of Japanese Migrant Fishing Village Colonies in Korea,” Journal of Asian Architecture and Building Engineering 10, no. 2 (2011): 296.

 


Building Locations


Hashimoto House (It sits on the street with all these houses, so if you’re visiting Guryongpo, you can start here and walk around. Bus 200 from Pohang drops you off near here):


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