The first human presence on the Korean Peninsula can be traced back as far as the Paleolithic Age. By examining other remains of the Paleolithic Age(such as the hunting stones) collected in areas known today as Cheongsa-po of Haeundae and the new urban development areas of Jwa-dong and Jung-dong, it appears that people were present in Busan by the late Paleolithic Age.
Most of the ruins and remains in the Busan area to date are from the period after the beginning of the Neolithic Age.
The well-known remains of the Neolithic Age in Busan are shell mounds and these are all consistently located near rivers or the sea. (locations such as Dongsam-dong, Yeongseon-dong, Dadae-dong, Amnam-dong, Geumgok-dong and Beombang.)
It appears therefore that our ancestors' life centered around fishing.
In particular, the Neolithic Culture of the southern coast region was formed around the Busan area. It was influential on the Neolithic Culture found in the Kitakyushu region of Japan.
Busan is geographically located in the south-east corner of the Korean Peninsula, and this might explain the late arrival of the Bronze Age there.
The ruins and remains of the Bronze Age are being discovered, in places such as Guseo-dong, Geumgang Park, Geumsa-dong, Sajik-dong, Bugok-dong, Goijeong-dong, and Nopo-dong.
The ruins being discovered are more numerous and significant when compared with the ruins of the Neolithic Age. Of particular note is the inland location of the ruins on hilly regions some distance from the sea.
Bronze Age communities in Busan used no patterned earthenware.
The Bronze Age had a great effect on the ensuing development of the Japanese Yayoi Culture.
Most ruins and remains from the Iron Age(throughout the Three Hans period, Gaya and the beginning of the Three Kingdoms) are shell mounds and old tombs.
Shell mounds and old tombs are found range throughout Jodo, Yeongseon-dong, Dadae-dong, Goejeong-dong, Dongnae Nakmin-dong, Oryundae, Hwamyeong-dong, Geumsa-dong, and Bokcheon-dong.
There are many more old tombs of the Busan region dating from the Iron Age compared to other regions. Since the place for refining iron was discovered in Dongnae shell-mounds, excavations have shown that Busan was the central production area for Iron. It is also apparent that refined iron from here was exported to Japan, Naglang ,Dabang and other regions by means of the Suyeong River. These facts are recorded in the "Wui History" chapter of the "History of the Three Kingdoms of China".
After this period, there was a historic shift towards the area around the Suyeong River and Oncheon stream.
According to studies of literature during that period, small territories such as Geochilsanguk and Dokloguk were influential.
In the middle of the 6th century the Silla Kingdom annexed Gaya. After the name for the Busan region was changed from Geochilsanguk to Geochilsangun, in the reign of King Gyeongdeock(757) it was changed again from Geochilsangun to Dongnaehyeon. At that time Dongnae appeared for the first time in historical records.
In the Goryeo Dynasty, the Busan region continue to use the administration system of Silla.
In the middle of the Goryeo dynasty, during the reign of King Injong, the family of Dongnae Jeong rose to a position of power in central politics but faced new challenges. A party feud and a sense of entrapment between the central political power and the Jeong family occurred, Jeongseo was demoted and forced to return home. After retreating to the Dongnae area Jeongseo set up the pavilions and composed the poem “Jeong-gwajeong-gok” that recited faithfulness and integrity. Jeong-gwajeong-gok is the one of the best poems in Goryeo Literature and is widely accepted as the origin of Busan literature itself.
On the other hand, Busan's military importance was emphasized more strongly. A fortress was built in Busan to station troops in defence against Japan's expanding power.
In the Joseon Period during the reign of King Taejo, the administrative boundary (jin) around Dongnae was established. Later, in the reign of King Taejong, the "Daeil Gyoyeokjang"(trading center) was also established, in 1470 thus expanding trade between Joseon and Japan.
At the same time, Dongnae’s role in defence and diplomacy was becoming increasingly important.
In 1592, the Imjin War highlighted the need to forge a new and better relationship for Korea and Japan. After the Imjin War, efforts were made at improving relations. This allowed for the establishment of a trading system and the sending of delegations between Korea and Japan.
During the late Joseon Dynasty, Choryangwaegwan was the only office trading between Joseon and Japan. It was also the place for establishing trade links between the Eurasian Continent and the Far East.
It should not be forgotten, however, that the combined spirit of the anti-Japanese struggle and national salvation bravely shown by citizens and soldiers alike has been handed down to us today and has subliminally permeated the collective subconscious of our rights as citizens.
In the 19th century, Busan's anti-Japanese struggle against an imperialist Japan was stronger than that of any other region. Many patriots, students, laborers and kisaeng entertainers alike, participated in the movement to resist Japan.
With the end of World War II, the restoration of independence took place on August 15th, 1945. At the start of the Korean War, Busan became an enormous city of refugees, and, as the last bastion of national power, the provisional capital. Busan was upgraded to a “Jikhalsi” (city under direct control of the government) in 1963 and a metropolitan city in January, 1995.
From the 1950s to the 1980s, Busan emerged as a leading base for the economic rehabilitation and democracy of our nation.
However, increased foreign competition in the 1990s and the Asian Financial Crisis forced Busanites to show their toughness in the face of economic adversity.
After passing through a long, dark tunnel, Busan is beginning to emerge stronger and better than ever.
For reference, please visit Busan Museum, Dongsam-dong Shell Mounds, Bokcheon Museum, Chungnyeol Shrine, Baeksan Memorial Hall and the many other historical facilities in Busan. Make the most of Busan's cultural heritage, to really enjoy your time here.