When It Opened In 1883, Inchon Port Embraced Western Culture

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When It Opened In 1883, Inchon Port Embraced Western Culture

The establishment of Inchon Port in October 1883 opened the door to Western culture. Most apparent were the Western architectural styles that changed the landscape, with the early hotels, banks and clubhouses providing local residents with new cultural perspectives.

The nation's first hotel, the Daebul Hotel built in 1889, Gonghwachun, and the first Chinese restaurant lent the city an international flair.

The No. 58 Bank, infamous for its role in helping to ruin Korea's economy under Japanese rule, was also built during this period. The buildings also provided new literary settings for early modern Korean novels.

The most famous trio of landmarks was the German-built Saechang building, the British Consulate and Inchonkak - initially known as the Johnston Villa in Mankuk Park and now known as Jayu or Freedom Park.

Most of the historic buildings were destroyed during the Korean War, except for the Jemulpo Diplomats Clubhouse located in Songhak-dong, Jungu. The Jemulpo Diplomats Clubhouse was opened on June 22, 1901, during Inchon Port's heyday. The clubhouse was a social gathering place for diplomats from all over the world. In 1913, the Japanese military took over the building, and later in 1934, it was used it as a social center for officers' wives.

During the Korean War, the Americans also used the building as a clubhouse. In 1953, finally freed from the clutches of foreign powers, the building became the Inchon City Museum.

Since 1990 when the museum was moved and rebuilt near the bottom of Cheongryang Mountain, the old clubhouse has been known as the Inchon Cultural Center.

The Jemulpo Clubhouse was noted for its luxurious interior, with a social hall, a library and a poolroom. This second story of the brick building covers 85 pyong (280.5 square-meters) and is larger than the first floor, which covers 32 pyong (105.6 square-meters). The library and the lecture hall are in a basement that has doors leading to the first floor. The main hall, at ground level, is regarded as the second floor. Old records indicate that there had been a tennis court and other sports facilities on the grounds. Apart from pediment decoration above the window, the building is not particularly remarkable. In July 1993, Inchon City decreed the building as the Inchon Cultural Asset No.17.

by Park So-young

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