OWL Magazine Korea

Incheon, the Street of Historical and Cultural Significance: “Open Port Street”

Around Incheon Station, alongside Chinatown, you can discover the birthplace of modern history, the “Open Port Street.” This area, located in the neighborhoods of Songhak-dong and Jungang-dong in Jung-gu, Incheon, has been a diverse modern cultural heritage site developed from the late Joseon Dynasty to the Japanese colonial period. It is also often referred to as the “Open Port Nuri-gil.”

Connected to Incheon Chinatown and Songwol-dong Fairy Tale Village, it makes for an excellent day trip.

“Establishment of Open Port Street After the Ganghwa Treaty”

Open Port Street was established following the Ganghwa Treaty (Treaty of Ganghwa) in 1876, after Busan in 1880 and Wonsan in 1883. It was created in the Songhak-dong area around the freely accessible park surrounding the open port, in line with the diplomatic agreements signed by representatives of Korea, the United States, Britain, China, Japan, and Germany according to the Incheon Treaty Port International Agreement. The area, covering Songhak-dong, Songwol-dong, and Manseok-dong, was formed on a scale of 140,000 pyeong (approx. 463,000 square meters).

“Loss of Modern Buildings Due to the Annexation, Korean War, and Industrialization…”

Aligned with the fame of Open Port Street, numerous large-scale modern buildings, including embassies and residences of Western and Eastern diplomats, emerged. However, after the end of the Japan-Korea Annexation in 1910, most countries, except Japan, withdrew and sold their embassies, leading to a transfer of assets to Japanese ownership. Following this, during the Korean War in 1950 and the industrialization in the 1970s, most of the modern buildings were lost.

The current Open Port Nuri-gil represents the “Japanese Quarter,” while Chinatown represents the “Chinese Quarter,” with only a few buildings remaining. Incheon Metropolitan City is reportedly working on restoration projects.

“Various Museums and Japanese-style Streets in Open Port Street”

Today, in the Open Port Street area, you can find various museums. One side is decorated with a Chinese-style street, while the other side has a Japanese-style atmosphere, separated by Chinatown.

While some museums require individual entrance fees, there is also a combined ticket available for entry into all five museums. The museums covered by the integrated ticket include:

  • Jajangmyeon Museum
  • Han-China Cultural Museum
  • Daebool Hotel Exhibition Hall & Jung-gu Life History Exhibition Hall
  • Incheon Open Port Museum
  • Incheon Open Port Modern Architecture Exhibition Hall

Additionally, you can explore art zones like Incheon Art Platform and easily head to Chinatown or Songwol-dong Fairy Tale Village with just a short walk, making it possible to explore them all in one go.

“Incheon Open Port Street”