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Enjoy Busan

Busan's rise, fall and rise again

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The main building features two permanent exhibition rooms and one special exhibition room. Part of the collection includes dioramas depicting old Busan. 

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BMCHM Main Building(left) and Annex(right) 

 It is a truth universally acknowledged that a city possessing a valuable past must be in need of a history museum. This is particularly true for Busan Metropolitan City, which experienced several inflection points in the 20th century. 

 The Busan Modern & Contemporary History Museum in Jung-gu District was established to record and preserve the city's turbulent past. The museum encompasses the recently opened Main Building and the Annex one block over.

■ BMCHM Main Building

 The Main Building, which opened on Jan. 5, 2024, stands at the heart of the original downtown area, preserving Busan's rich past. Housed in the old Bank of Korea Busan Headquarters, the museum features exhibition halls, a children's library and a cafe stretched over 9,000 square meters.

 When the Bank of Korea Busan Headquarters relocated to a new neighborhood in 2013, the building site was designated as a Busan Metropolitan City Cultural Heritage. In 2015, the city bought the site from the Bank of Korea. After years of public hearings and planning, officials determined the site would become the Busan Modern & Contemporary History Museum.

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Visitors enter an old bank vault to view modern art. 

 Traces of the building's banking history are present throughout. The basement level contains The Vault Art Museum, which preserves the original structure and features of the bank's vault, including four chambers, a surveillance corridor, steel doors and iron bars. Despite looking like the setting of a bank heist film, the space welcomes visitors with colorful artwork. Until Feb. 26, the space hosts an exhibition titled "The Closest, Most Secret History," showcasing 51 works created by 14 artists.

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The former bank reception space now welcomes coffee lovers. 

 The original lobby, once bustling with customers, bank clerks and tellers, is now home to Casa Busano, a local espresso bar and tea franchise. Instead of financial transactions, visitors can enjoy an aromatic cup of coffee and various snacks, especially the "gold bar" cookies.

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A special exhibit on baseball in Busan is a must-see for sports fans. 

 On the second floor, "Baseball City, Shout of Busan" (마!쌔리라!야구도시 부산의 함성)" presents an exploration of baseball in the city with the most avid fans in the country. The show covers the introduction of baseball to the city and the history of the Lotte Giants, the local professional ball club. Baseball enthusiasts can see the exhibition until March 17.

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Digital books give context to historical events

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Miniature scenes show glimpses of daily life in the past. 

 History lovers will find plenty of reasons to return to the museum's permanent collection on the third and fourth floors. The third floor examines Busan's identity as the first port city in Korea and its evolution into a global hub city. The exhibition also confronts the city's somber history, including the exploitation, oppression and resistance citizens faced during the Japanese Occupation. The fourth floor covers Busan's role in the independence movement, the Korean War, industrialization and the struggle for democracy.

■ BMCHM Annex

 In a neighborhood of modern skyrises, the BMCHM Annex stands out with its row of arch windows. Built in 1929 by the Oriental Development Company, the building was one of the first structures in the city to use Modernist, Western-style architecture. The Japanese Empire established the ODC to control and exploit Korea and her resources.

 Following liberation in 1945, the property came under the ownership of the U.S. military. The U.S. used the site in various ways. During the Korean War, the building housed the U.S. Public Information Center and the U.S. Embassy. Then, it became the Busan American Cultural Center and the U.S. Consulate General in Busan. In 1998, the Consulate shuttered and ownership of the site transferred to Busan City a year later.

 In 2003, the building housed the Busan Modern History Museum before shutting down in 2021. Afterward, the site was folded into plans for the BMCHM and opened to the public in March 2023.

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With lots of sunlight, the Annex is great for leisurely reading. 

 The Annex has exhibition spaces, but it mainly functions as a library and events center. The first floor contains over 10,000 books, with sections dedicated to Busan-related works. Archives of government documents, historical newspapers and since-declassified confidential documents are also on hand.

 The building has several chairs, nooks and tables for studying, reading or quiet contemplation. There is a separate children's reading room on the first floor. The atrium also serves as a beautiful setting for live concerts, reading events and talks. The second floor has exhibitions that delve into Japanese exploitation and the history of Korea-U.S. relations. 

※ Busan Modern & Contemporary History Museum

•Address: 104 Daecheong-ro, Jung-gu

•Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Casa Busano is open until 9 p.m. Closed Mondays and New Year's Day.

•Admission: Free

•Instagram: @bmch_museum


<Voca Spotlight>

diorama: 디오라마(축소 모형을 이용해 특정 장면을 재현하는 것)

depict: 묘사하다

acknowledged: 승인된, 인정된

inflection: 굴절, 변곡 (*inflection point: 변곡점)

turbulent: 격렬한, 격동적인 (*turbulence: 난기류)

encompass: 포괄하다, 포함하다

Heritage: 유산

vault: 금고

surveillance: 감시

heist film: 하이스트 영화(무언가를 강탈 또는 절도하는 모습과 과정을 상세히 보여주는 영화)

aromatic: 향기로운

enthusiast: 열성팬, 열성분자

glimpse: 잠깐 봄, 엿봄

confront: 대면하다, 마주하다

somber: 어두운, 슬픈

exploitation: 착취

oppression: 억압

resistance: 저항

liberation: 해방

Consulate: 영사관

declassified: 기밀해제된

nook: 구석

contemplation: 묵상, 사색