Architecture in Korea changed a lot between 1850 and 1950. It was, in my opinion, the most interesting architectural period in Korean history. During the late Joseon period, Western and Japanese influence led to a greater variety of building designs. At first, this architecture came in the form of foreign government buildings, but the traditional Korean cityscape took on more American, British, German, Russian, French, and Japanese styles as the foreign population grew. Even the traditional hanok started to take on slightly different forms. Unfortunately, much of Korea’s traditional architecture was lost during colonization – especially its old town fortresses and thousands of hanok. Industrialization in the 1960s and 1970s only added to the destruction of early modern buildings. The tragedy is that the Korean government still does little to protect the country’s old buildings despite having already lost so much. Today, Korea’s traditional urban vistas are completely gone.

This blog is a series of photo essays that seek to document the few remaining early modern structures on the Korean peninsula. It is in no way an apologetic response to Japanese Imperialism. Rather, I simply want to raise awareness for Korea’s early modern tangible remains. Admittedly, the blog’s title is now a bit misleading as I sometimes cover information from before and after colonization. The historically significant buildings in Korea have been registered and protected by the government or private owners, but the rest – the ones that haven’t been demolished in the name of progress – often seem to remain by accident. While I can’t always find information on the histories of these buildings, I do photograph and map them out. It is my goal to document as many pockets of remaining early modern architecture as possible during my time here in Korea.

Building locations and info footnotes are at the bottom of each post. If you think you see an error somewhere, please comment or send me a message! 🙂

busan 1919Busan, circa 1919 (Flickr Commons)

seoul 1945Seoul, 1945 (Don O’Brien, Flickr Commons)

If you’re interested in using some of these photos for something, feel free to get in touch with me. To see the entire Flickr gallery, click here.

Contact: colonialkoreablog@gmail.com

4 thoughts on “About

  1. Just wanted to say thanks for doing the website! I stumbled on a few of these buildings in Busan myself and then found the site when looking for further information. It’s fascinating to read the history you’ve researched, the photos are beautiful and the detailed directions and maps are certainly appreciated! Looking forward to exploring more of these places over the coming weeks. Thinking of heading to Masan and Cheongdo, as well as more of Busan. Thanks again, keep exploring and updating please! ^^


    • Hi, Sam! Thank you for your kind words! I really appreciate it. Regarding Masan, there’s a lot more to be said about it and I should go back and rewrite that blog post some time. I’ve learned a lot more since then and that blog post doesn’t accurately reflect Masan’s importance. I was looking at a 1950 military map of Masan and comparing it to present day Daum Maps. The old waterfront has been completely overhauled so all the old structures there were wiped out. The buildings that are still in Masan are relatively spread out so it could take a few hours to visit each of the structures in the Masan blog post. Regarding Cheongdo, you could see everything around the town and Naeho-ri in a day if you’re fast. There’s a remaining Japanese county office in Punggakmyeon (in Cheongdo county) that I’ll add to the Cheongdo blog post when I get a chance to visit it. I’m currently rewriting the Jinhae blog post while also working on posts about Miryang, Samnangjin, Ganggyeongeup, Gunsan, Jeonju, Iksan, Suncheon, Bolgyeo, and Mokpo. 😦 There’s so much to be said about each place that it is difficult to do so quickly and accurately. If you have any questions or need help finding something (or want to add something to the blog that I missed!) then feel free to write me. Thanks for your interest in this part of Korea’s history, too. I’m always happy to meet a fellow early modern history enthusiast! Your comment encourages me to keep doing this! Cheers~~~


  2. Thanks for your reply!

    I look forward to the new posts and updates – I’m planning to head to Jinhae in the next couple of weeks, so if I could put in a request for that to be top of the to-do pile it’d be appreciated! 😉

    As for Cheongdo, I’ve also seen at nearby Singeo (a disused station) there’s a small ‘New Village Movement’ memorial/museum and an ex-Presidential train as well as the old station building itself to look round, which could hopefully be combined with the other buildings you mentioned for an enjoyable little day trip

    Have you started or do you know of any Facebook groups or similar for sharing/discussing stuff like this? I’m sure there’s probably a few other people that are or could be interested in stuff like this.

    If you can see my e-mail address when I post this, please feel free to send me any info or add me on Facebook if there is anything, or just post any links here.

    Thanks again for all the work you’ve put into the blog!


    • Yup. I’m revisiting Jinhae and Masan this weekend and should wrap up the Jinhae rewrite by next week, actually, so you should be good by then! There’s an older Jinhae post you can see right now, too.
      I totally forgot about Singeo! The bus passed it on my way from Cheongdo to Naeho-ri and I was able to get a glance of it and that train. I won’t be back to visit it any time soon, though. I’ve got too many other places to cover. 😦 Thanks for mentioning it! That’s awesome that you know about it. I didn’t know it was there until randomly passing it during that trip.
      I’ve found a few Korean individuals on FB and Instagram mentioning cultural heritage sites like this, but i haven’t seen any groups. Definitely no groups in English. Want to start one? I’m open to ideas. I do this to spread awareness so maybe forming a group would help promote. I want more people to see the value in protecting these places. Drop me a line! Thanks again for your kind words.~~~


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