Busan in 1884: A tourist hotspot

A view of Benten Street in the early 20th century / Robert Neff Collection

In the winter of 1883, Percival Lowell, an American, paid a short visit to Fusan (modern Busan) while en route to Seoul via Jemulpo. According to him:

“Fusan is composed principally of one long street, turning half-way in its course at right angles to itself. The village has taken the form of a carpenter’s square, with the bay, or rather two bays, to mark its outside limits, and a steep hill, in what would be the inside angle of the square, to bar its extension inland. Down the middle of the main street [Benten-dori — now Gwangbok-ro] runs a canal a few feet wide, spanned at intervals by planking. Along its sides are rows of trees. At the outer corner of the square is the knoll from which the town takes its name; for Fusan — in Korean, Pusan — means ‘kettle mountain,’ and the name was given the place from a fancied resemblance in this knoll to a kettle upside down. A Japanese temple now crowns the top, and the whole is covered with trees.”

Lowell spent little time in the port — merely a short excursion of sightseeing and dining while waiting for his steamship to finish transferring cargo — so his description is rather anemic. However, other sources provide more detailed descriptions and indicate Fusan was in some ways more cosmopolitan than Jemulpo.

In October 1883, one foreign resident described Fusan as a Japanese settlement consisting of 600 houses, which were “for the most part substantially built specimens of Japanese architecture, two stories high,” and provided housing for the 1,800 카지노사이트모음 Japanese residents. The finest buildings were the Japanese consulate, the 1st National Bank, the offices of several Japanese traders, the steamship offices and the Kofukutai Hotel. In addition, the port had a hospital, school, post office and police station. The two-storied Korean Imperial Customs Service’s office was at the western end of the port and was also considered to be quite grand. In addition, a telegraph office was in the final stages of completion. He did not refer to Korea as the Land of the Morning Calm or even as the Hermit Kingdom, but instead deemed it the “Land of Promise.”

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