Early Modern Brick and the Perforated Qing Cross

Before the rise of reinforced concrete, brick was the heart and soul of many an early modern building in Korea. Red brick architecture arrived in the 19th century, with some of the earliest (non-palace) examples being the Busan Japanese Administration Office in 1879, the Sechang Trading Company in 1884, the Beonsachang Armory in Seoul (1884-present),1 … More Early Modern Brick and the Perforated Qing Cross

The Comfort, Construction, and Social Views of Common Homes in Colonial Korea

The period of Japanese imperialism was one of architectural experimentation. As architects came to find out, some of the Western designs were misfit for the Japanese climate. Something similar happened in colonial Taiwan when, after realizing that termites were chewing up their wooden buildings, architects turned to reinforced concrete. This resulted in cement manufacturing years … More The Comfort, Construction, and Social Views of Common Homes in Colonial Korea

Hanok in Japan, Korean Architecture Abroad

Over the course of Korea’s colonization, the construction of thousands of machiya and other Japanese clapboard buildings altered Korea’s traditional cityscapes. Some believe this transfer of culture was one way, that Korea left little to no imprint on the Japanese who lived there and in the metropole during colonization. However, colonization was a shared and … More Hanok in Japan, Korean Architecture Abroad

Railway Quarters

The birth of Korea’s railways has been commented on by a number of Westerners living in Korea, including missionary doctor and US minister Horace Newton Allen. In his 1908 work Things Korean, Allen seemed to be rather proud of the American gauge railroad system in Korea, claiming he had heard “prominent Japanese deploring the fact … More Railway Quarters

Yeosu

Situated in the middle of Korea’s southern coastline, the micro-peninsula of Yeosu was heavily influenced by Japanese settlers and Western missionaries during the colonial period. Though the current city government of Yeosu likes to tout its Joseon legacy as related to Yi Sun-shin, this scenic getaway spot has a rich colonial history that deserves much … More Yeosu

Suncheon

At the end of the 19th century, the area around Suncheon had long been known as an important military and administrative center. Its early modern and colonial history is not widely known, but it was the events during this time period that led to its gradual urban reformation under Japanese rule. As the former Joseon seat … More Suncheon

Gampo

Korea’s eastern coastline is home to a number of port villages that were developed by migrant Japanese settlers during the colonial period. One such village was Gampo, a harbor that sits between present day Pohang and Ulsan. During the Japanese occupation, Gampo’s neighbors were Guryongpo (near Pohang) and Bangeojin (now within present day Ulsan). All three … More Gampo

Mokpo

A small ocean-side village sat on the tip of the South Jeolla province during the Joseon period. Estimated as having only eighty households in the late 1800s,1 this unimportant farming community would grow to become one of Korea’s most influential colonial port cities. Its name was Mokpo, and today it contains some of the most fascinating early modern … More Mokpo

Iksan

Iksan was established as a colonial town in the middle of the Honam breadbasket at the turn of the twentieth century. For a town that is off the radar for most tourists, it may be surprising to know that a significant portion of its early modern architecture remains. Unfortunately, its murky colonial past makes it … More Iksan

Jeonju

The decade prior to Jeonju’s modernization was fraught with turbulence and disorder. Like the entire nation of Joseon itself, Jeonju faced an uncertain future at the end of the 19th century. In 1894, Jeonju came into a chaotic time as the Donghak rebels took control of this provincial capital city. Joseon government troops then laid … More Jeonju

Gunsan

Gunsan was the most important port in the Honam region in the early 1900s. It developed so quickly that it easily rivaled Chemulpo (Incheon), Busan, and Mokpo, becoming a modern international trade center whose ships could reach both China and Japan. As a city mostly propped up by the colonial economic structure, it declined post-liberation.1 … More Gunsan

Ganggyeong

Ganggyeong-eup was an important colonial river port during the Japanese occupation. As industrialization swept the peninsula in the 1960s and 1970s, Ganggyeong was left behind. As its neighbor, Gunsan, developed in the 1980s and 1990s, changes to the waterway also contributed to the port’s disappearance. The result is a well preserved early modern Korean town … More Ganggyeong

Ulsan

Perhaps no other city in Korea has seen as much change in architecture and infrastructure as Ulsan, for only one of its historically significant structures remain intact. Almost no minor colonial buildings are left, let alone any Joseon relics. It wasn’t until the 1960s that the Ulsan we know today began to develop, but the … More Ulsan

Masan

Masan was a small agricultural and fishing village when it opened to foreign trade on May 1st, 1899. Though its neighbor, Jinhae, would later become an important Japanese naval base, modern Masan had a twelve year head start on its sister city. Development rights in Masan were eagerly sought by both the Japanese and Russian governments … More Masan

Samnangjin

Samnangjin contained one of the biggest docks on the Nakdong River during the Joseon period. Positioned just south of Miryang, it was an historically important passageway for travelers. An old walking road was made along the rocky shore line to the east of the present train station in a place called Jando.1 Remains of this old … More Samnangjin

Miryang

Miryang sits in a basin made by the Nakdong River which, though fairly mountainous, is just above an important plain that is still used for rice farming. The city was built up around the river’s winding “S” curve that contains two low-lying islands. One island is occupied by rice fields. The other was developed and … More Miryang

Jinhae

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 … More Jinhae

Cheongdo

Cheongdo The county of Cheongdo (Cheongdo-gun) was named centuries before Korea’s early modern period back in 1343. Its modern administrative system was established in 1895 under the district of the city of Daegu (Daegu-bu), only to fall under Gyeongsangbuyk-do’s provincial jurisdiction the following year due to the new administrative division system introduced under the Gabo … More Cheongdo

Gadeokdo

Despite being set apart from the rest of Busan, the island of Gadeok-do actually falls under the jurisdiction of the city’s Gangseo-gu district. There are two villages towards the southern tip named Daehangpo and Yangpo. The Japanese Army forced the locals out of the Yangpo area in 1905 in order to convert the valley into … More Gadeokdo

Busan (7)

Gangseo-gu In 1927, socialist writer Cho Myeong-hui described the Nakdong River as being “the mother’s milk of many lives” in his historical fiction named after the waterway.1 The river flows all the way from the northern Taebaek Mountains down to Busan and has played an important role in the development of Korean civilization since ancient times, … More Busan (7)

Busan (6)

Nam-gu The majority of the hill houses in Uam-dong and Munhyeon-dong appear to be from the 1960s, with perhaps a handful from the 1950s. As such, it is not a particularly noteworthy area with regard to old architecture. However, there are a handful of structures left spread throughout the two neighborhoods. A U.S. military map from … More Busan (6)

Busan (5)

Dong-gu Overview Choryang was a fishing village, which was reportedly ‘“difficult to walk about in the fishing season because of its stench.”’1 Though colonial era Japanese land buyers later sought property in Choryang, it was largely a Korean community prior to 1905.2 Much of the Korean fishing community was forced out and made to live in … More Busan (5)

Busan (4)

Seo-gu In the early 1900s, the West New Town project that was developed inside present day Seo-gu and part of present day Jung-gu was split into eleven neighborhoods (jeong in Japanese, dong in Korean). It was roughly a third of the size of the Japanese population in the Nampo concession.1 This West New Town could be … More Busan (4)

Busan (3)

Jung-gu Present day Jung-gu roughly occupies what was the exclusive Japanese concession in Busan. (This included Nampo-dong, which got its own blog post here as the first part in this Busan series. For more about the history of this area, see that post.) As the center of colonial Busan, Jung-gu had the greatest number of … More Busan (3)

Busan (2)

Yeongdo 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 … More Busan (2)

Busan (1)

A Word About Busan and the Events Surrounding Its Opening (1850-1876) Prior to the city’s official naming in 1910, the area would have been referred to as being that of the Dongnae prefecture or the port of Fusan (the Japanese settlement).1 The Busan that we know today was originally a series of unconnected villages and towns that … More Busan (1)

Daegu (2)

Jung-gu Continued… Namsan-dong About a block south of Seomun Market Station (Exit 3) on the Green Line is Namsan Elementary School. Though most of its buildings are newer, the original lecture was built in 1936. It has a beautiful French-styled mansard roof with a stately gambrel roofed bay over the center of its eastern entrance. … More Daegu (2)

Daegu (1)

Any discourse on the colonial modernization of Daegu must be centered around the construction of Daegu Station and the dismantling of the city’s fortress walls. However, its important to understand that it was not the colonial policies of the 1900s that made Daegu great. For almost three hundred years prior to the arrival of Japanese … More Daegu (1)

Jinju

Jinju is a very old city. Touted as having a thousand-year history, it used to be known as Goryeonggaya prior to 940. In 1896, it became the seat of power in the newly formed Gyeongsangnam-do province. The provincial capital then shifted to Busan in 1925. There are only a handful of colonial buildings left in Jinju. Okbong-dong … More Jinju

Daejeon (2)

Jung-gu As the railway fostered development around Daejeon Station and Jung-dong, the city also expanded west into modern day Jung-gu. Daejeon doesn’t have a lot of colonial period buildings left, due in part to the Korean War and recent city developments. As of 2010, just roughly one fifth of Daejeon’s historically significant structures remain.1 Daeheung-dong Taking … More Daejeon (2)

Daejeon (1)

Daejeon was a product of colonial modernization, becoming so important that it later replaced Gongju as the seat of power in the region. While cities like Seoul and Busan were already relatively important at the turn of the 20th century, Daejeon barely existed prior to 1900. The lack of convenient transportation, and even more importantly, … More Daejeon (1)

Tongyeong

Tongyeong is a small, but noteworthy, connective point along the southeast coast of Korea. Named after the Samdosugun Tongjesayeong (삼도수군통제사영) naval force stationed here during the late 16th and early 17th centuries, it wasn’t until after the installation of this force that Tongyeong really became an economic center in the region. By the 1700s, its crafts … More Tongyeong

Guryongpo

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 … More Guryongpo

Sorokdo

Sorokdo’s tragic past stands as a historic example of human rights abuse – particularly abuse committed under the name of medical modernity. At first glance, the island is deceptively beautiful and doesn’t resemble what we would imagine a leper colony to look like. As you cross over the suspension bridge from Goheung, everything is notably more serene … More Sorokdo