Photo Essay

Busan (2)


After the port’s opening in 1876, the lands in the northern part of the island of Yeongdo, formerly known as both Makishima and Jeolyoung Island (Jeoryeongdo), may have been appropriated by Japanese colonists as early as the 1880s.1 However, some parts of the island were definitely occupied by 1885 when a concession was granted for the stated purpose of constructing a naval coal station.2 Makishima lay across the bay opposite of the old exclusive Japanese residential zone in present day Nampo-dong and acted as a kind of physical buffer between ships coming into port from the open sea and the mainland section of Busan. The new Meiji government in Japan, being imperialistic, was coming into contact with foreign countries more often. The spread of disease became a concern for Japanese officials as cholera had transferred to Japan via China.

For example, just one year after Busan’s port was opened, a Japanese sailor with the Takaomaru fleet took ill with cholera and was moved from the Japanese settlement in Nampo-dong to Yeongdo,3 presumably to limit his exposure to people on the mainland. The existence of a quarantine hospital on Yeongdo is confirmed by explorer Isabella Bird, who also noted that “waterworks have been constructed by a rate of 100 cash levied on each house, and it is hoped that the present abundant supply of pure water will make an end of the frequent epidemics of cholera.”4 Various quarantine, fumigation, and inspection protocols were invoked throughout colonial Japanese ports, partially because there was little the Japanese government could do back home. Treaties between Western powers and Japan from 1854-1858 limited what the Japanese Meiji government could do in its own home ports, thus port protocols would sometimes become more strict in all its occupied, colonial port settlements as a way to indirectly influence Nipponese ports.

Yeongdo’s history is still evident in the number of brick warehouses that remain. Many have been cemented over, but between cracked bits of concrete, the original red bricked frames can be seen. A few, like one pictured below, remain completely exposed. Another common feature of Japanese warehouse design was raised, gabled roof venting that allowed for air flow. However, there are more than just warehouses along Yeongdo’s coastline. The neighborhoods of Daepyeongdong 2(i)-ga, Daepyeongdong 1(il)-ga, Daegyodong 1(il)-ga, Daegyodong 2(i)-ga, Bongnaedong 1(il)-dong, and Namhang-dong retain colonial shops, Japanese homes, modernist corner buildings, and company houses.

yeongdo colonial building 1 yeongdo colonial building 2 yeongdo colonial building 2 close yeongdo colonial building 3 yeongdo colonial building 4 yeongdo colonial building 5 yeongdo colonial building 6 yeongdo colonial building 7

In addition to having a number of boat yards, ironworks, and foundries, a U.S. military map from the 1950s5 shows that there were at least eight salt refineries on Yeongdo. A Korean pottery company, the Pokto Twine Mill, Cheongseong (Chŏngsŏng) Rice Mill, and a “Fishery Experimental Station” were scattered along the northwestern coast facing Nampo.  It was also the location of the Standard Oil Company, Rising Sun Oil Company, and Ipaeok (Ipaŏk) Oil Refinery. The island also apparently had a previous history of “breeding horses of very small size” that extended, at least, into the 1890s.6

A number of the smaller buildings are now occupied by machinists, engineers, and mechanics. A handful may be offices, but many workshops were outfitted with vertically sliding garage doors. The neighborhoods of Daepyeongdong 2(i)-ga, Daepyeongdong 1(il)-ga contain modernist corner buildings, Japanese homes, and even a warehouse structure that appears to retain its original company logo on the facade.

yeongdo colonial building 13 yeongdo colonial building 14 yeongdo colonial building 11 yeongdo colonial building 12 yeongdo colonial building 10 yeongdo colonial building 8 yeongdo colonial building 9

Namhang-dong includes a row of picturesque colonial and post-liberation buildings. Once off the actual waterfront, facing inland, there are a few more structures. Of note is another house with a diamond window and a wood-paneled Japanese warehouse.

yeongdo colonial building 17 yeongdo colonial building 16 yeongdo colonial building 18 yeongdo colonial building 15

Later, in 1934, the bascule-styled Yeongdo Bridge was completed to physically link it with the mainland.

yeongdo bridge

To see the entire Flickr gallery, click here.

1Oh Mi-il, “The Spatial Arrangement and Residential Space of a Colonial City: The Spatio-temporality of Hill Villages in Busan, ” Korea Journal 53, no. 1 (2013): 187.
Hong Soon Kwon, “Formation of the Modern City of Busan: Focusing on the Space and Culture of the Japanese Settlement in Busan before 1910,” Korea Journal 48, no. 3 (2008): 5.
Jeong-ran Kim, “The Borderline of ‘Empire’: Japanese Maritime Quarantine in Busan c.1876-1910,” Medical History 57, no. 2 (2013): 229.
Isabella Bird Bishop, Korea and Her Neighbors (Fleming H. Revell Company, 1897),  23.
5This map is at the museum in Busan Citizens Park, the former location of Camp Haileah.
A. Henry Savage Landor, Corea or Cho-sen: The Land of the Morning Calm (London: William Heinemann, 1895), 1-15.

Building Locations

Listed in order as pictured above:

Red brick Western building by motel:

Two story Western building with Japanese windows and Semi-circular roofed buildings on Bongnaenaro-ro:

Japanese storefronts on Bongnaenaro-ro:

Red brick warehouse crammed between parking lot and hotel on Jeoryeongro 14beon-gil:

Two story Japanese diamond window house on Jeoryeongro 8beon-gil:

Colonial house at Daegyo-ro:

Pink modernist corner building with two vertical lines on facade:

Gray modernist corner building with three vertical lines on facade:

Japanese house with small garden, company warehouse with logo, and two story colonial building at this corner:

House with diamonds on facade next to Japanese wood-sided house with tarp and tires on roof:

Picturesque row of waterfront buildings:

Cemented/plastered over warehouse with roof vent:

Diamond window house and Japanese wood-sided warehouse, across the street from each other here:

1 comment on “Busan (2)

  1. Pingback: From the far side of Yeongdo Bridge - Synapticism

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