Historical fortress keeps Busan's story safe
Busan is a modern city and became so in a relatively short time. But, Busan's history didn't just begin with the Japanese colonial era or the Korean War. The city has a rich and vibrant history that goes back centuries. One site evocative of Busan's long existence is the Dong-naeeupseong Fortress in Dongnae-gu (di-strict), a defensive structure built toward the end of the Goryeo Dynasty, which ended in the 14th century.
△ Dongnae was once its own city, but now the iconic Dongnaeeupseong Fortress that used to defend it is located in the heart of Busan. (Source: Kwon Seonghoon)
In the Joseon Dynasty during the 16th century, Busan was known as Dongnae, and Dong-naeeupseong Fortress was constructed to protect the government facilities, schools and commerce in the center of town. The fortress has six gates: one in each cardinal direction and the Insaengmun and Ammun Gate, where funeral biers would travel in and out. The gates constructed in the cardinal directions have names in Korean, except for the North Gate, which has remained simply Bukmun (North Gate) since the shameful fleeing of general during the Japanese invasion of 1592.
In fact, it would be that very invasion that would prove to be the initial doom of the Dongnaeeupseong Fortress. Although the Koreans were armed mainly with insufficient weapons, the resistance to the invaders was fierce. For as passionately as the defense fought, the fortress fell the following day, Dongnae's status in the eyes of the king disintegrated, and the fortress was left in disrepair for over a century.
It wasn't until 1731 that the fortress was reconstructed, but the iconic walls would fall again during the Japanese occupation of Korea throughout the first half of the 20th century, under the pretext of urban modernization.
Busan City Hall began restoring the fortress to its former glory in the 1980s. The gates and command posts were rebuilt, and now Dongnaeeupseong Fortress stands proudly in the center of the city. Today, the site is a gorgeous place for a learning experience and an autumn walk. Enjoy the weather, take in the evening lights and look upon Busan with pride.
- Phone: 051-550-6634
- Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (closed on Korean New Year's Day, Korean Thanksgiving Day, temporary holidays and Mondays)
- How to get there: Chungnyeolsa Station (metro line 3), exit 3. Take Dongnae-gu village bus 3, and get off at Bokcheon Museum stop.
△ The fortress used walls and gates to protect the lives of its people.