Busan definitely has a very interesting history. It has long been one of the principal ports into the Republic of Korea. The other main port is in Incheon, back where General Douglas MacArthur made his famous landing. During the Korean War, it had another important significance. Busan was one of the only areas not conquered by the Korean People’s Army from the North. After South Korea was attacked, Dr. Syngman Rhee, the President of the Republic and the government fled to Busan. Many refugees came to Busan during the War, including among them the conductor Chung Myung-hwun, his mother, and his sisters. His mother somehow was able to not only get her children to safety in Busan, but her piano as well. Maestro Chung is now one of the world’s most respected conductors. He is also a pianist. His sisters, the violinst Chung Kyung-wha and the cellist Chung Myung-hwa sometimes perform together. Their older brother Myung-so was a flautist. Their other siblings include a businessman, a professor, and a doctor. Their mother died in 2011 at age 93, having weathered not only the Korean War, but also the extremely rapid changes which would come to her country as a result of President Park Chung-hee’s modernization drive.
This house, located near Dong-a University in Busan, was for a time the presidential residence. After the Incheon Landing, Dr. Rhee and the government returned to Seoul, only to have Seoul retaken by the North. They spent the duration of the War in Busan. This house was once the Provincial Governor’s Office of South Gyeongsang Province during colonial days. The Japanese were quite skilled at Western architecture. Busan has a few old Japanese-built Western-style structures left. Unfortunately, historical preservation in Korea sometimes leaves much to be desired, though things are improving.
Here you can see a wax sculpture of Syngman Rhee at his desk.
Dr. Rhee was married to an Austrian woman, Fransizka Donner Rhee. After her husband’s death in exile, she returned to Korea. She and President Rhee never did have any children of their own, though they did adopt a Korean boy. I believe he is still living in Seoul, though he is quite elderly. Here are the women’s quarters.
Here are some more rooms in the house. It’s not extravagant, but it is a nice house. It is now a museum.
Korean government agencies sometimes use the mugunghwa or rose of sharon in their logos, as it is the national flower. This identifies the area as the neighbourhood of the provisional capital.
Finally, at Dong-a University, there was this tram I quite liked. Busan and Seoul used to have streetcars, though they don’t anymore. Both now have extensive subways.
For those who don’t read Chinese, this tram once served 西面 (Seomyeon), 東來 (Dongnae), 市廳 (City Hall), 釜山驛 (Busan Train Station), and 裁判所 (the Court).