Photo Essay


Strategically placed in the middle of a natural harbor, and even further protected from possible Russian naval attacks by the island of Geoje-do, the location of Jinhae has long been considered a valuable naval position. Prior to 1906, the area that Jinhae now occupies was previously known as the county of Ungcheon (Uncheong-gun). Masan, a city perhaps less than ten kilometers away, had already opened its port to foreign trade in 1899. However, by 1905 the Resident-General seemed to have deemed the construction of a dedicated naval port a necessity. A boundary was set up on the prospective land in the western and central townships of Ungcheon-gun, called Seomyeon and Jungmyeon, in September of 1906. The official from the Masan branch of the Resident-General, Mimashi Gumiyoshi, and an official from Changwon, Kim Seogyu, were in attendance and perhaps oversaw the boundary drawing.

The modern city of Jinhae was then designed by a man named Yamata Ushitaro in 1912, making it the first planned, Western-Japanese styled city in Korea. While most Korean cities were occupied and then transformed from within, Jinhae was a totally new city. Its successful construction from the ground up is perhaps evidence of the incredible amount of money the government surely invested in its development. Indeed, photos from the early twentieth century show that Jinhae exuded civilized, urban order. It was, and still is, a well-organized town. Unlike other cities today, Jinhae’s colonial framework is very much intact. Its wide, sweeping streets, a defining characteristic of it both then and now, are striking to those of us who are used to the tiny alleys and crevices that usually pass for roads in Seoul or Busan. It would have been very easy to build inward post-liberation, and had Jinhae’s population grown more over the last century this might have happened.

Yamata designed Jinhae around what we now call the Jungwon Rotary. Eight streets shoot out in every direction forming an eight spoked wheel that centered around a large tree (pictured below). Chŏnasi-chŏn, a small waterway now called Yeojwacheon, was presumably built for drainage as it runs north-south along present day Jungwonseo-ro from the mountain edge all the way down to the bay. This stream can still be seen next to the historic Sooyang (Suyang) pagoda restaurant. The stream’s northern section in Yeojwa-dong is now used as the couples photo zone during the cherry blossom festival in March. Yeojwacheon stream also had two off-shoots, one of which ran east-west along Chungjang-ro in front of Jinhae Station. The other mostly followed Yeojwa-ro in a sort of southeastern direction before connecting with its east-west section along Chungjang-ro. I don’t recall seeing any canals when walking along Chungjang-ro, but I imagine the stream is still there under the roadway.

jinhae during japanese occupation

Built in 1921, Jinhae Station doesn’t look very true to the period now given that various elements have been redone over the years, but the basic structure is clearly colonial in style. The canopy attached to the right side has Japanese styled woodwork while the main building has a Western roof with dormer windows. Note just how wide the pavement is here. This is more or less the width of Jungwon-ro, which, from Jinhae Station, leads directly to the Jungwon Rotary. Jinhae Station was first used solely by the military on a rail line between Jinhae and Changwon that was known as Jinchangseon. The rail line’s name came from the joining of the two city’s names Jin (from Jinhae) + Chang (from Changwon), making the name Jinchang. Judging by early pictures of the station area, it had a large welcoming gate to the city as well.

jinhae station gable roof

Yeojwa-dong was also the home of a girls’ school, some petty officers’ quarters, and a transformer station. The Yeojwacheon stream also may have connected to an inland, man-made fishery pictured on this 1946 US military map. The section marked as “Fortress Headquarters” on that same map was, in fact, some kind of Japanese military headquarters that was then later used as a war college by the Korean military. Daum Maps has the entire area censored on their street view because it is still under military jurisdiction. Google Maps only reveals the roads, not any of the structures. However, a quick trip to the location was very rewarding thanks to a photographer who shared how he got inside here.

Once inside the walls, a three-hundred meter long straight road that passes a church leads right up to the old Army War College. It is a colonial era structure that was used by the Japanese military between December 9, 1913 and August 11, 1941.1 It appears to have been built in a similar style as the Jinhae Post Office, though it is markedly less decorative. The crumbling hipped roof has been recovered with newer shingles, and, unfortunately, the windows and doors have been replaced with metal-framed glass. The porch steps are obviously covered with newer granite sheets. However, the west entrance has a wooden gabled overhang that is definitely original and in good condition. Old vents along the foundation (pictured below) have been covered over with newer tile. In fact, all of the brick along the base of the facades seems to be relatively new.

jinhae army war college jinhae army war college jinhae army war collegejinhae army war college

Unfortunately, little of the building’s colonial interior seems to remain, but it is still pretty fascinating because it shows what the place may have looked like between the 1960s and 1990s. A few of the windows have their interior wooden frames, which are probably original. Some doors are also wooden, but look more like they could be from the 1950s or 1960s. The remaining Chesterfield-inspired, leather-covered doors show just how plush the interior was even in the second half of the twentieth century. Interestingly, the building was heated with old Western-styled radiators stamped with “A” emblems. At least one was in the hallway, and each room was built with wooden-covered radiators that lined the base of the walls. You can still see the old covers, most of which have been torn out. (A peak through a window of another building in the area showed that radiators were used in many of the military buildings). The biggest room, perhaps a commander’s office, has a decorative geometric design above the door.

jinhae army war college jinhae army war college jinhae army war college jinhae army war college jinhae army war college

The former Army War College was supposedly used from 1944 to 1950 as Jinhae Middle School.2 It served as an artillery school in 1950 and a military academy between 1951-1954.3 The Army War College was established in 1954 and lasted forty-two years in Jinhae before finally being relocated to Daejeon in 1996.4 For a structure that has only been unmaintained for twenty years, it is in surprisingly poor condition – yet it is still very much salvageable. Though it was possibly meant to be designated as Registered Cultural Heritage property No. 194,5 the area is currently slated for redevelopment. After the war college moved to Daejeon, this little section of Yeojwa-dong, which is a protected Greenbelt Zone, was going to be bulldozed to make way for a baseball stadium. When the plan fell through, a significant portion of the local population was upset that the city wasn’t going to get the economical boost the stadium would’ve brought.6 A recent plan will, however, transform the old military grounds into an industrial technology research park.7 The Cultural Heritage Administration has put up notices throughout the area, too, perhaps confirming that it really will be demolished this time. Given the public outcry following the cancelation of the baseball stadium, it seems unlikely that anyone will be able to convince the powers-that-be to not destroy the old buildings here. As a few others have noted online, it will be sad to see the former Army War College and its neighbors go. However, as of September 2015, it is still standing.

Here are a few more photos of some mid-century buildings near the war college. The first one was built in the modernist style but I don’t know what it was used for. The second building, like the first, seems to be a 1950ish structure and is labeled “S010007” on its exterior. It resembles old U.S. and U.N. military buildings from that period, anyway. The third building pictured below is the rear view of Victory Hall (필승관). I included it because of the old metal sheet tiles visible on the wall towards the roof. The last building below over looks a soccer field and sits next to what may have been a dormitory.

jinhae war college neighbor buildings jinhae war college neighbor buildings jinhae war college neighbor buildings jinhae war college neighbor buildings jinhae war college neighbor buildings

While on the subject of Jinhae losing its tangible history, there was a 1923 Japanese style temple in this neighborhood that was tragically demolished some time after 2012. Deokhwangwaneumsa (덕환관음사) was one of only a few Japanese style temples left in South Korea (the others that I know of being the beautifully preserved Dongguksa in Gunsan, the handsome stone-walled temple in Mokpo, and the lousily renovated temple in Gyeongju). For this reason alone, Deokhwangwaneumsa should have been protected by the local or national governments. The temple was said to have been well preserved despite a few changes to its facade. It is then incredibly infuriating that such historically significant sites can still be torn down so easily and with (seemingly) little protest. Indeed, there are no online news articles available regarding the temple’s destruction, perhaps showing that even the locals cared little for Deokhwangwaneumsa’s fate. If there had been public outcry, it doesn’t seem like the news reported it and, sadly, for a building that had such a meaningful and honorable construction, it met a rather humble demise.

Recent photo provided by the city of Jinhae. I did not take this photo.

Deokhwangwaneumsa was said to have been built in honor of those killed or injured in a fire during a movie screening on March 10, 1930.8 (Note that this conflicts with the supposed 1923 built date. If the dates are accurate, perhaps the structure was built in the 1920s, but then didn’t become a temple until 1930. This is unclear to me.) The temple was erected as a place to pray for those affected by the tragedy.9 A memorial stone was kept within the temple as well, which has supposedly been moved elsewhere.10 The temple was then used by a church. The temple’s destruction must then be considered a huge loss for the city of Jinhae, who has just this year begun to mark its historical sites with informational plaques and tourist maps. Unlike architecture that was lost during war, fire, or industrialization, Deokhwangwaneumsa was torn down only to be replaced by a tasteless, unremarkable, concrete sanctuary which, judging by Daum Map street views, was just completed this year around March or April. Though the temple is now being promoted on Jinhae’s tourist sign boards, nothing is mentioned about its destruction, which is, in my opinion, frustratingly misleading. Perhaps the church organization that tore it down wants to avoid negative press, or perhaps the mention of the temple is the city’s way of making up for its loss. Regardless, it is sad that Deokhwangwaneumsa is only now gaining a modicum of attention when it physically doesn’t exist anymore. After ninety years, the temple has been reduced to a few sentences on a tourist board. Below is a picture of its former neighbor, a 1950s or 60s structure, with the new concrete church on the left edge of the photo.

jinhae old temple neighbor building

On the Jungwon Rotary sits an old post office built in the Russian style. Completed in 1912, it is said that the Russian legation from the “earlier days” was located in this area. The front facade, with an entrance framed by Tuscan columns, has arches that even compliment the wooden sign board. The roof has rounded dormer vents, which was all done with copper plating. The Japanese stripped the roof at some point, presumably to use the copper for war. Fortunately, it was restored and re-plated some years later. It’s now a rather picturesque green-cyan hue. Early photos of the post office show a series of decorative spikes that formed something resembling a metal fence along the top of the roof. Its interior, which seems to be beautifully preserved, is off limits to the general public. However, photos of it can be found on this blog.

jinhae post office distance

During the early 1900s, the post office handled postal money orders via electric communication work, making the old bongsudae signal fires completely obsolete.11 Telegraphy was introduced to Korea by Japan across the Korean Strait in 1884, with China establishing a line from their border to Seoul only a year later in 1885. The Korean government, perhaps seeking autonomy, then ran its own line from Seoul to Busan in 1888.12 With the two major cities of Korea linked a full twenty-four years prior to the post office’s construction, it’s possible Jinhae was connected to the network as early as 1912.

In an older version of this post, I wrote that Russia must have had a significant influence in the area given the rotaries (which were desired by Russian city planners in Seoul)13 and the Russian styled post office. However, I was recently told that the post office was a not a result of Russian influence, but was rather just a part of Jungwon Rotary’s design in which buildings were constructed in the styles of different nations between the ‘spokes’ made by the streets extending out from the rotary. If this is true, then it seems that the post office is the only one of these buildings that remain. A Russian presence near Jinhae can be confirmed by one line in an article that explains “Japan started purchasing land in Jinhae, going so far as to forge the necessary documents, in a bid to weaken Russian influence in the naval port” around 1904 or 1905.4 For more about Russia’s interest in this area, see this blog post about Jinhae’s neighbor, Masan.

To the east of Jungwon Rotary is Jehwangsan Park. Though nothing remains of Jinhae’s colonial religious structures today, this mountaintop was the site of the city’s old Shinto shrine. At the foot of the mountain, next to the mountaintop lift, sits an old bomb shelter, presumably from the late 1930s or early 1940s, that has recently been marked by the city.

jinhae bomb shelter

Daecheon-dong and Gwanghwa-dong
Beotkkot-ro is lined by two eye-catching structures. The first is a rare, multi-leveled hexagonal pagoda structure that, according to the city of Jinhae, was built in 1938. It now houses Sooyang Hall Restaurant. The woodwork on the third level seems to be incredibly well preserved and its original circular stairwell is still intact. There were at least two buildings of this style, though it is said there was a third. The structures were important in that they came to symbolize Jinhae and its modernity. An old photo of the pagoda house can be seen here, which shows two kimono-clad ladies standing on a bridge over part of the Yeojwacheon infront of the building.

three story pagoda jinhae

Across from Sooyang restaurant is the Wonhaeru Chinese Restaurant, which appears to retain its original signboard. Its easily my favorite part of the building. Established in 1949, the interior seems to have been renovated in the 60s or 70s.

jinhae storefront with old signboard

wonhaeru interior jinhae

On Baekgu-ro, just off the rotary, is the Heukbaek Culture Space. Though it is has been here since 1955, the actual building dates back to birth of the city in 1912. It can be seen in its original form in the 1930s photo of Jungwon Rotary at the beginning of this blog post.

heukbaek culture space jinhae

This neighborhood has more renovated old buildings, but the structure pictured below really caught my eye. Its a decent example of what was probably a company house or factory of some kind. It features a second story in one section, and a ventilated area in another section. Its rear was impossible to photograph due to the way the city built up around it, but I was able to get one shot through some signs showing the vented part. Buildings like this one are becoming increasingly rare in Korea, though they were once a common sight judging by photographs from the 1940s of Korean cityscapes. This one sits at Taepyeong-ro 7beon-gil 4 (태평로7번길 4).

taepyeong-dong company house taepyeong-dong company house

Jungpyeong-dong and Geunhwa-dong
Fortunately, even with its wide streets, old Jinhae is rather compact and easy to walk around on foot between each dong (of which there are many considering how small an area it is). On Baekgu-ro, there are a few more very well preserved Japanese buildings, especially considering that they have been used all these years. The two pictured below are built back to back, with the first one retaining its gabled entrance and other exterior architectural elements. Its neighbor is a lovely corner store structure that, though sort of warping in on itself, is also pretty unique because of its shape and protruding entrance. It is currently serves as a print shop. The third photo below is at Jungwon-ro 34 (진해구 중원로 34).

geunhwa-dong 5-2

A block or two away from the print shop is a hospital that may date anywhere from the 1960s to 1970s. I’m probably just not looking in the right place, but I couldn’t find anything about the history of this one. Built of red brick and concrete, it looks like its been abandoned for awhile. An open window allowed for a quick shot of the interior. A front entrance still has the old light used for alerting staff of an arriving ambulance/patient.

1960s hospital 3 1960s hospital 1 1960s hospital 2

The most significant remaining structure in this neighborhood may be the former residence of the director of the naval hospital. Built in the 1938, it now serves as a restaurant. The structure is very Japanese. It contains a small garden and a second building with a brick chimney between the two. The interior retains much of its original design, including a really old electrical switch in the entry hall. The woodwork on the exterior is also well preserved.

jinhae naval hospital 1 jinhae naval hospital 4 jinhae naval hospital 3 jinhae naval hospital 2naval hospital 1naval hospital 2naval hospital 3

The street of Jungwondong-ro 10beon-gil is lined with a few more structures. The first one below has been altered quite a bit, but its frame and the entry gate show it to be a colonial or post-liberation building. The second was said (by a local on the street) to have been some kind of pub (suljip 술집). It’s in pretty bad shape. The third building pictured below was one of at least twelve brothels that were planned throughout the city. The roof and first floor exterior have changed, but the second floor shows its old wood siding, Japanese mini-balcony rails, mud walls, and decorative metal supports under the roof.

renovated colonia jinhae house whitesuljip jinhae colonial bar

This interesting colonial house with a small garden is near the bus terminal. It sits at Jungwondong-ro 10beon-gil 7-1 (진해구 중원동로10번길 7-1).

colorful colonial japanese house colorful colonial japanese house

Jinhae Naval Base
Generally off limits to the public year round, the naval base allows visitors to walk the main road annually during the Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival. The base contains four cultural heritage sites that date to the colonial period when the Japanese first established their naval base here. A row of officers’ homes off the main road also appear to date to the 1940s or 1950s, but I wasn’t able to get any photos of them. Because the structures are still used by high ranking officials, photography isn’t allowed. However, an officer and another guard let me get a few shots of two of the registered cultural heritage buildings from a distance. The first one is the former Jinhae Naval Port Command Headquarters. Its construction began in 1912 and was finished in March of 1914. It is stylistically typical of Japanese colonial Renaissance buildings.15 For example, this headquarters strongly resembles the style of the former Japanese consulate in Mokpo. The roof itself is particularly beautiful, with dormer windows on either side of its center. It now serves as the Naval Base Command for the ROK Navy.

jinhae naval base 1

The former Jinhae Naval Port Hospital was built in 1912 and sits just off the main road.16 It, too, is done in the Renaissance style with stone worked into the window and doorways. Again, unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to get any closer than this.

jinhae naval base 2

Lastly, the pavilion pictured below, while not protected a protected site, is the platform that remains of Tonghae Station.

jinhae naval base 3

The other two buildings are the former Jinhae Defense Unit Command Headquarters and its annex. The main road seen in the above picture of Tonghae Station allows for glimpses of the actual naval base, but so much of it is obscured by vegetation, fences, and strategically placed trees that I wasn’t able to get shots of the Defense Unit Command Headquarters, its annex, or the officers’ homes. To see a few more images of these four registered cultural heritage sites, go to the Cultural Heritage Administration website here.

The last significant old building I have yet to see in Jinhae is one of Sygmun Rhee’s old houses, built in 1949, that sits within the naval base. Despite being in an off-limits area, some Korean bloggers have shown that the house is visitable through organized tours that operate weekly. This would probably be another day trip, and when I figure out how to do it, I’ll post about it here.

This neighborhood sits on the coast to the southeast of the old city center. Sokcheon-dong might have then been a commercial, civilian harbor while the rest of Jinhae was for the navy. It had a customs house and a fish market that was previously connected with the rest of the city by rail, but I could only find one colonial era building left in the area. The structure is a typical two-story, wooden Japanese house that is remarkably well preserved. This house is outside of the main Jungwon Rotary area, meaning it probably has a bleak future as no tourists will be venturing down this way to see it. It now houses a seafood restaurant.

southeast coast japanese house jinhae southeast coast japanese house jinhae

As the rail line extends to the east outside of downtown Jinhae, it splits in two, with one section running parallel to Chungjang-ro. Here, we can see that everything south of Chungjang-ro is currently under military jurisdiction and off limits. This area was interestingly marked as “Airport (Probable Location)” in 1946 by the U.S. military. The eastern side of this bay was also used for salt farming. There are many old buildings in the area, but the vast majority of them have been completely renovated.

The first photo below shows how early modern buildings were constructed along the old rail line. The second photo is of what probably used to be a warehouse. It sits at Gyeonghwa-ro 6-1 (진해구 경화로 6-1). The third photo below shows a crumbling two-story Japanese structure, which can be found at Gyeonghwa-ro 7beon-gil 11 (진해구 경화로7번길 11). The structure in the fifth picture was a block or two north of the first. The pair of buildings now covered over with a new brick facade can be found at Chungjang-ro 321beon-gil 16 (진해구 충장로321번길 16). The last Japanese structure below, a typical two-story house whose second floor used to have open windows overlooking the bay, sits at Chungjang-ro 321beon-gil 22 (진해구 충장로321번길 22).

old railway on east jinhae jinhae garage japanese building traintrack japanese house traintrack japanese house side japanese hovel east jinhae tiled over japanese house jinhae two story japanese house jinhae east

To see the entire gallery on Flickr, click here.

This is a rewrite of an old blog post that has since been deleted. I came across new information and found a few more structures.

*Info in the beginning of this post about the city planning was just pulled from sign boards near the Suyang restaurant. The city has done a decent job of posting information about the city this year, though it is all in Korean.
1최환석, “진해만 근대건축물 요새사령부 사라지나,” 경남도민일보, 2015.
2“경남 진해 여좌동에 있는 육군대학 터” from Facebook Group “사진기자가 본 세상,” July 2015.
3“경남 진해 여좌동에 있는 육군대학 터” from Facebook Group “사진기자가 본 세상,” July 2015.
4“경남 진해 여좌동에 있는 육군대학 터” from Facebook Group “사진기자가 본 세상,” July 2015.
5점석전, 진해만 요새 사령부 건물, Pinterest Photo, 2015.
6“경남 진해 여좌동에 있는 육군대학 터” from Facebook Group “사진기자가 본 세상,” July 2015.
7“경남 진해 여좌동에 있는 육군대학 터” from Facebook Group “사진기자가 본 세상,” July 2015.
8“1930년 3월 10일 진해 대화재와 덕환관음사 이야기(허정도),” 조팡호의 진해뉴스, 2014.
9“1930년 3월 10일 진해 대화재와 덕환관음사 이야기(허정도),” 조팡호의 진해뉴스, 2014.
10“1930년 3월 10일 진해 대화재와 덕환관음사 이야기(허정도),” 조팡호의 진해뉴스, 2014.
11Horace Newton Allen, Things Korean (Fleming H. Revell Company, 1908), 83.
12Todd A. Henry, Assimilating Seoul: Japanese Rule and the Politics of Public Space in Colonial Korea, 1910-1945 (Asia Pacific Modern) (Oakland: University of California Press, 2014), 38.
13Daqing Yang, Kyeong-Hee Choi, Ms. Kyeong-Hee Choi, Henry H. Em, Do-Hyun Han, Joong-Seop Kim, Chulwoo LeeSoon-Won Park, Michael A. Schneider, Michael D. Shin, Clark Sorensen, Kenneth M. Wells, Mr. Daqing Yang, ed. Gi-Wook Shin, and ed. Michael Robinson, Colonial Modernity in Korea (Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2001), 161-188.
14Kim Byungryull, The History of Imperial Japan’s Seizure of Dokdo (Northeast Asian History Foundation, 2008), 74.
 Former Jinhae Naval Port Command Headquarters, Cultural Heritage Administration.
Former Jinhae Naval Port Hospital, Cultural Heritage Administration.

Building Locations

Jinhae Station:

Jinhae former Army War College (enter here)

Jinhae former Army War College (actual location)

Jinhae Post Office:

Three story pagoda Sooyang restaurant:

Chinese restaurant with old signboard:

Corner store print shop with protruding entrance:

Former Residence of the Director of the Naval Hospital:

Buildings along Jungwondong-ro 10beon-gil:

Note: There are more colonial and post-liberation structures left in Jinhae than the ones pictured. These are simply some of the ones that appear to be in relatively good condition.


6 comments on “Jinhae

  1. Pingback: Gunsan | Colonial Korea

  2. Pingback: Miryang | Colonial Korea

  3. Pingback: Suncheon | Colonial Korea

  4. Pingback: The Comfort, Construction, and Social Views of Common Homes in Colonial Korea – Colonial Korea

  5. Pingback: Early Modern Brick and the Perforated Qing Cross – Colonial Korea

  6. This waas a lovely blog post


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