Places That Hold Memories of the Korean War

Visit the Korean War heritage sites in Busan, South Korea's provisional capital

1. Provisional Government Complex

(now Dong-a University's Seokdang Museum)

In August 1950, right after the start of the Korean War, the South Korean government designated Busan the provisional capital and used Gyeongsangnam-do Provincial Hall, built in 1925, as a government building. The former provisional government building is a historic site where political events, such as the one known as the Busan Political Crisis, took place. But it was also where the government took measures to provide support for refugees and request economic aid for the country. In 2002, the national government designated this site Registered Cultural Property No. 41, in recognition of the fact that it witnessed so much political and social change over the country's turbulent modern history. Today, it is a museum belonging to Dong-a University.

2. Provisional Capital Presidential Residence

(now the provisional capital memorial hall)

The presidential residence sits behind the provisional government building, and had previously been the home of the governor of Gyeongsangnam-do Province. Its exterior walls are made from brick, and some of the interior is decorated with Japanese-style wooden structures. Visitors can take a tour inside the residence. 

3. The US Embassy and Information Service

(Past the Busan Modern History Museum)
During the Korean War, the US used this building as its embassy and information center. It is a reinforced concrete structure built in 1929 to house the Busan branch of the Oriental Development Company, which was established for the purpose of colonial exploitation during the Japanese imperial era. After the war, the building functioned as a space where the people of Busan could experience and learn about US culture. It was returned to the South Korean government in 1999 and was subsequently transformed into the Busan Modern History Museum.

4. UN Memorial Cemetery

UN Command built this cemetery in April 1951—almost a year after the Korean War broke out—to bury soldiers who had died in battle. The remains of approximately 11,000 UN soldiers from 21 countries who died in the war were once buried in this cemetery. Some countries later recovered the bodies of their fallen soldiers, but the remains of around 2,300 soldiers from 11 countries are still buried here. The UN Memorial Cemetery is a heritage site that serves as a reminder to the world: a reminder of the noble values held by all those soldiers from different countries, and the sacrifice they made in giving their lives to maintain peace on the Korean Peninsula.

5. The Central Meteorological Office

(now the Busan Regional Meteorological Administration)

Founded as a meteorological observatory in 1934, the Busan Observatory was taken over by the Central Meteorological Office during the Korean War and used as a weather station. Even during the war, the Central Meteorological Office provided useful weather information to the military, as well as shipping companies and fishermen, through the weather observations it made 24 times a day. In recognition of its historical and architectural value, the Busan Metropolitan City government designated it Monument No. 51.

6. Gukje Market

This market was called Shinchang-dong Market after independence from Japan, but was changed to Gukje Market after the Korean War. During and after the war, residents and refugees traded military supplies such as clothing, cigarettes, and chocolate, along with other goods that flowed out from the US military bases. Refugees would sell whatever they could to make a living. Some traded all kinds of goods, and even contraband, that came in through Busan Port from abroad. This market was where refugees from all over the peninsula came to make their living as street vendors during the war.

7. Bosu Book Street

This small alley in Busan's Bosu-dong neighborhood is lined with bookstores. Vendors would trade books from the US military bases, old books that refugees had brought with them, and books left behind by the Japanese. There were government agencies and schools for refugees in the Bosu-dong neighborhood, so there was a constant demand for books. Many refugee intellectuals and artists bought and sold their book collections here, either to read or make a living.

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