Discover Incheon Chinatown
Incheon Chinatown is located just in front of the Incheon station, you can see the Chiatown entrance opposite side of street when you get out No.1 exit. Chinese restaurant and souvenir stores are lined in the streets. The Incheon-China Day Culture festival and Jajangmyeon festival are held in September and October every year.
Let’s look into the historical background of this place from now on. It was formed in 1884 as the Overseas Chinese coming to this Concession(租界地) after the opening of Incheon port in 1883. Most Chinese who lived in Incheon Chinatown at the time came from Shandong in China. It was at the Im-O Military Revolt(1882年壬午军乱) that Chinese people began to coming into Korea from Qing Dynasty in China at the end of Joseon. When Im-O Military Revolt was broke out and the situation of Joseon Dynasty was changing suddenly, Qing Dynasty dispatched the navy of Oh Jang Gyeong(吳長慶) who was stationed in Shandong province in China even though there is no request from Joseon Dynasty. More than 40 Chinese merchants came into Korea following the 4,500 soldiers under the commander of Oh Jang Gyeong and they began to do business near the Yongsan where they were stationed.
Both countries envoys were on visiting each other from ancient, and Chinese traders often stayed in Korea through the “Market Openning(開市)” due to public trade, but this was the beginning of long-term stay. Jemulpo was selected as a Opening Port candidate area after the Japan-Joseon Ganghwa Treaty in 1876, but it took six years to be selected as a actual Opening Port area. Joseon Dynasty was reluctant to opening a port just right next to Seoul, and therefore, Japan also took time to searching for other candidates area. Jemulpo was selected as the opening port by the “Jemulpo Treaty in 1882,” Quing Dynasty, Japan and other western powers flocked ahead to Jemulpo. It was formed as the each foreign countries Concession (租界地) by conclusion of “Incheon Jemulpo clause of each countries concession (仁川濟物浦各國租界章程)” in 1882. Japan established a consulate immediately after the Treaty of Jemulpo, and Qing Dynasty also established the Qing Dynasty Government Office(靑國理事府). In 1885, Qing Dynasty set up a line of telegraphic that’s linking to its home country. The Qing Dynasty also signed on the “Joseon-Qing Trader Sea & Land Trade Pact (朝淸商民水陸貿易章程)” and began trade through Jemulpo. On March 7, 1884, the “Incheon Chinese Trader Concession Pckt (仁川華商租界章程)” was concluded, and as Qing-Joseon Dynasty autonomy has been determed, lots of Chinese came settled down. The present Chinatown is stemmed from the Concession (租界地) at the time. In 1910, the size of Korean Overseas Chinese was 11,800, of which 2800 were lived within this Concession area. Today, about 2,000 Chinese live in Incheon, and about 120 household live in Chinatown. Since its Opening Port in 1883, facilities of Chinese religious has been built within Chinatown. It was said founded by Buddhist monk named Hwang Hab Gyeong(黃合卿) and built a Temple the Temple (廟宇: Shrine where deity is held) called Uiseondang (義善堂). This place, which shared ups and downs with Overseas Chinese, was placed in the crossroad of abolition 1970s, and opened again after the massive repairs in 2005 with the support of the Chinese government and the fund rising of Overseas Chinese. Currently, this is the cultural heritage No.1 designated by Overseas Chinese Association in Incheon Metropolitan City.
Concession(租界地) – The area where have been set up so that foreign residents can usually resident in the port area and where to enjoy extraterritorial rights.
The boundary stairway between Qing and Japanese concession (淸•日租界地境界階段): It was designated as Incheon Metropolitan City Monument No.51 on December 23, 2002. The designated area is 840 square metter and it is owned and managing by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MOLIT). This was a boundary area between the Japanese concession established in 1883 and the established by Qing Dynasty in 1884. And This stairway is connected to the Freedom Park.
Ganghwa Treaty – On Sept. 20, 1875, Japan’s brand new warship “Un-Yang-Ho(雲揚號) was shelling Chojijin in Ganghwa Island and overwhelmed with explosion sound. Then Japan putted forward a treaty of peace on February 10, 1876. And this was the “Ganghwa-do Treaty.” The Ganghwa Treaty was an unequal treaty concluded in accordance with Japan’s coercion with military power, and it was the first treaty that Korea made with foreign countries in the modern era.
Jemulpo Treaty – The Japanese empire dispatched “Hanabusa Yoshimoto(はなぶさ よしもと),” a diplomatic minister in order to under the pretext of demand compensation for damage at the time of Im-O Military Revolt(壬午军乱), and landed at Jemulpo under the protest of the powerful Navy. It was the Qing Dynasty that was the most nervous to news of Japan’s military expedition. The Qing Dynasty listens to opinions of Yun Shik Kim who was a foreign student in China, promptly dispatched military commended by “Oh Jang Gyeong” as a justification for protecting tributary. At this time in the Qing Dynasty, worried about the expansion about the situation, and to calm on the Japanese minister, while relaxed attitude of Joseon government and held talks in Jemulpo between two countries and concluded the “Jemulpo Treaty.”
Jajangmyeon (짜장면) – There were many southern merchant from Guangdong and Hong Kong who living in Concession (租界地), but the number of northern merchants from Shandong gradually increased. In addition, the Chinese workers started to enter the Incheon where the Opening Port was held du to the construction boom. Most of them were from Shandong Province. Restaurant owners and farmers also came into Korea follow them, and sell the food to them and farmers supplied vegetables to restaurants. Around 1905, Jajangmyeon based on home cooking in Shangdong Province was made and sold. It is the food which the unloading workers who crossed from Shandong province, were simply ate as mixed with noodle and Chunjang (black colored sauce) in order that fill their stomach during work in the port. Since then, there have been many Chinese restaurants selling Jajangmyeon opened around Qing Concession (租界地), and “Gonghwachun” is known as original Jajangmyeon restaurant which most first opened in 1905.
Gonghwachun (共和春) is originated from the establishment of Shandong Hall around 1907 by the Overseas Chinese “Woo Hui Gwang (于希光:1886~1949)” who moved to Incheon from Shandong China. Shandong Hall which is not a place with the current “Gonghwachun” but opened elsewhere, was a shop called guesthouse (客棧) that provided lodging for the merchants who migrated from Qing Dynasty. Shandong Hall changed the name of the establishment to “Gonghwachun” in 1912 with the meaning of the “Spring of the Republic has came” to the motherland, when birth of People’s Republic of China after stopped Qing Dynasty imperial politics by the Shinhae Revolution of 1911 (辛亥革命).
Freedom Park (仁川自由公園) – Around 1888, this freedom park was established as a name of “Global Nations Park (萬國公園)” for the inhabitants of the foreign settlement in Incheon that was designed by Russian civil engineer “Céline Sabatine.” It was the first large-scale public facility in Korea, and it has been called “Western Park (西公園)” at the time in the Japanese colonial period. And after liberation, it was called as “Global Nations Park (萬國公園)” again, and Kim Jeong-lyeol who was took office as the mayor of Incheon in 1957 changed name to “Freedom Park,” with building a statue of General MacArthur to commemorating his Incheon Landing Operation during the Korean War. And it has long been as a representative place of Incheon so far, with retaining the pain of Korean modern turbulent history.