The Busan Museum

Korean History Books

Opened in 1978 at the western end of the U.N. Park in Daeyeon, the Busan Museum takes visitors on a journey through the history of the city and its region, from paleolithic times to the modern day. We visited recently and found it to be the perfect rainy-day activity.

Busan Museum is quite large, well-organized and, like most museums in the city, completely free. Busan as a city has a relatively recent story; up until the late 19th century, it was a mere fishing village, nowhere near as important as nearby Gyeongju or Daegu. Not until 1876, when its port was opened to international trade, did Busan become a city of any importance.

But that doesn’t mean that its history isn’t interesting. Starting in the late Paleolithic period, with the first documented appearance of humanity around the mouth of the Nakdong, visitors are slowly brought to the modern age. There are two floors of fascinating exhibits which have excellent English translations and shed a light on life in the various phases of Korean history.

Our favorite section detailed the period of the Three Kingdoms (around 57 AD – 668), when the various tribes of the peninsula were organizing themselves for the first time. One exhibit showed how the people of that day used primitive body-modification techniques to give themselves flat foreheads or pointy feet. On the second floor of the museum, there’s a room dedicated entirely to the relationship of the Japanese to Busan, which is more even-handed (and therefore, more interesting) than the “Japan=Villain” equations of the Modern History Museum.

How much enjoyment you get out of this museum is entirely a function of your interest in history. Nicely presented, informative and with plenty of information in English, we thought it was well done.

Location on our Busan Map

Busan Museum – Website

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Preemie Maboroshi

    Nice photos, as always. My favorites are the dioramas, both large and small. My favorite dioramas are of the woman preparing the food, the two men talking over the food, and the young postman (?) walking his bike up the slope. I also like the strange mask of the guy with the gigantic nose. And I like that colorful dragon-headed warrior.

  2. castro

    Very good writing! I never heard about the ancient body-modification techniques. Looks like a proto-type of cosmetic surgery boom in Korea now. The relationship between Korea and Japan is so complicate and it has the historic roots which foreigners can not understand easily. One thing clear for Koreans is that the history and culture of Japan was introduced to the Western world exaggeratedly at the expense of the history and culture of Korea. Put it this way. “For 36 years Germany under the French military was isolated to the outside world. For the 36 years, France introduced all the German things (historic and cultural) to the outside world as the unique French things.”  Some scholars say that more than 95% of the things the Westerners believe as the  unique Japanese things are, as a matter of fact, the unique Korean things.

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