Tatsuno Kingo: The Face of an Empire

Early modern architecture in Japan went through a series of distinct phases. One of these phases was a certain kind of neo-Renaissance introduced by architects like Josiah Conder, Hermann Ende and Wilhelm Böckmann in the late 1800s. Separate from earlier mixed Western-Japanese buildings found around the bund at Yokohama, such neoclassicism became well-admired and common … More Tatsuno Kingo: The Face of an Empire

The Chosun Hotel

Once called “the Ritz Hotel of the Far East”,1 the Chosen Hotel was, for a time, the last word in luxury and comfort in Korea. Dignitaries, statesmen, royalty, celebrities, casual travelers, and locals graced its elegant spaces with their presence. Militaries occupied it as one would a barracks, and officers used it as their billet, … More The Chosun Hotel

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

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

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

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

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

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 (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 (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 (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)