Posted by: rbbadger | December 8, 2011

四十階段紀念館

Busan, near where I live, is rich in modern Korean history.  For those who follow me on Facebook, you’ve already seen these photos.  I thought others might like to see them as well.

As I mentioned, this area is rich in history.  Busan is Korea’s second largest city.  An amazing amount of freight passes through the harbour of Busan.  For a time, this city was also home to the provisional capital of the Republic of Korea.

When Kim Il-sung (金日成) and the armies of the DPRK invaded South Korea, they very quickly took over most of the country with the exception of the Busan area.  Many people fled to Busan to escape the fighting.  The entire government, then lead by President Rhee Syngman (李承晩) fled to South Korea.  Many refugees came to into the city.  Not far from where the Busan international ferry terminal is today is where people would gather to try and find family members separated in the chaos.  A veritable refugee encampment sprang up in this area.  In 2007, to commemorate this part of its history, the city of Busan established the 40 Steps Memorial.

They also put up a number of statues which reflect the times.

There’s also an old railroad crossing sign and an old pillar-style mailbox.  They certainly don’t make them like this anymore.  I think the ones we have now in Korea are made of plastic.

There is also a museum nearby, but it was closed when I visited.  I’ll have to go back.  Modern Korean history is a fascinating subject.  There’s another museum, namely the Busan Museum of Modern Korean History, which has a small but interesting collection of Japanese imperalist documents, leaflets, ads and the like.  I’ll post more about that museum later.  It is in a building once owned by the now-defunct Oriental Development Company, Japan’s answer to the old Dutch East India Company.  After the war, the US government took it over and it served as the consulate and later the home of the US Information Service.  I’ll write more on that particular building a bit later.

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