The Japanese occupation is the painful history of the Republic of Korea. Busan, which was a bridgehead for Japan’s invasion of the continent, still retains the traces of the suffering left by Japan. Busan Modern History Museum tells the tumultuous history of Busan, urging us not to forget the brutal experiences.
Even though the modern history of Busan is difficult to remember, the “Oriental Development Company” still sounds quite familiar. The company, the current Busan Modern History Museum, was established by the Empire of Japan in 1929 to have Busan in its clutches. After the liberation, it was used as the U.S. Cultural Center in Busan for 50 years without permission and was returned to the Korean government thanks to Busan citizens’ persistent demand for its return. It truly has a very long story.
The building, constructed with reinforcement and concrete in the 1920s, shows the architecture trends in those days when the Western style was introduced. Nowadays, few buildings of this style remain across the country. The Busan Modern History Museum—recognized for its historical value and architectural form—was designated as the Busan Monument No. 49 in 2001.
Since its opening on July 3, 2003, the Busan Modern History Museum has served as a space for understanding and remembering the modern and contemporary history of Busan through its relics and exhibits related to Busan. It also provides special exhibitions and educational programs on various themes for citizens to experience their history more effectively.
The museum largely consists of the 1st and 2nd Exhibition Halls and the Modern Street in Busan, with special exhibitions occasionally held. The 1st Exhibition Hall is designed to show the historical timeline of Busan, from the opening of its port to modernization through the Japanese occupation. On the other hand, the 2nd Exhibition Hall describes the Oriental Development Company and the history of the Korea–US relations. The Oriental Development Company plundered the land and collected rent in kind—most often rice from tenant farmers in an attempt to compensate for the damage of Japanese farmers. Before the liberation, the tenants had to suffer from the endless Japanese colonial exploitation.
Modern Street in Busan is a reproduction of the Daecheong-dong street during the Japanese occupation. The street is lined with shops that show what the commercial center of Busan was like at that time. Moreover, the installed model of a trolley that used to run in downtown Busan makes you feel like you are traveled back in time.
If you want an unusual outing in Busan, you should visit the Busan Modern History Museum, where the traces of its modern history have been fully embodied together.
**Notice Regarding the Temporary Closure of Busan Modern History Museum
Period: June 29, 2021 ~ June 30, 2022
Extension of opening hours to 20:00 on Culture Day, the last Wednesdays
Narration can be reserved for group visitors (refer to the website)
Please keep quiet in the museum.
Photography is allowed only with the flash off.