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Special Exhibition

Gyeonggang – From Gwangnaru Port to Yanghwajin Port
Title Gyeonggang – From Gwangnaru Port to Yanghwajin Port
Period 2018-11-09 ~ 2019-01-27
Location Special Exhibition Hall A, Seoul Museum of History
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Gyeonggang – From Gwangnaru Port to Yanghwajin Port


Gyeonggang – From Gwangnaru Port to Yanghwajin Port

The area where merchants traveled back and forth on Hwangpo sailboats

-  Introducing Gyeonggang – a part of the current Hangang River; was the gateway to the capital, which was the largest market in Joseon - that used to be the place for   Gyeonggang merchants who took lead transforming Hanyang, the commercial city in the late Joseon Dynasty


- Exhibiting a replica of the 9-meter life-sized Hwangpo sailboat, and 150 Gyeonggang commerce related relics


- Exhibiting images of Gyeonggang in sections by harbor or port, the center of livelihood and business spot of seafood, rice, and ice, as well as daily necessities. Also, introducing stories about Ttukseom Island, Seobinggo, Gwangheungchang, and etc. 250 years ago


□ River that runs through Hanyang

- Gyeonggang refers to the course of river from Gwangnaru Port to Yanghwajin Port that ran through Hanyang during the Joseon Dynasty. Gyeonggang not only was a wholesale market providing markets in the capital city with grains, wood, fish, and salt, but also a central market that regulated commodity prices across the country. Gyeonggang was the center of marine transport where all commodities of the nation converged.


□ “It place” for Gyeonggang merchants

- Gyeonggang areas was the “it places” where segok (grains paid as taxes) and merchandise in Hanyang were gathered and lots of people come and go. As segok transport increased after Daedongbeop tax reform was implemented in the late Joseon Dynasty, and payment in goods of forced labor became possible, the population of Hanyang began to rise amid an influx to the capital of residents in provinces who substituted for other people’s forced labor. Gyeonggang then grew to be the center of commerce as they settled along Gyeonggang.


- Gyeonggang, the center of commerce and transportation, was inhabited by Gyeonggang merchants who amassed wealth through commerce, marine transport, shipbuilding, ice storage, and sales and refrigerated carrier businesses. Also, there were diverse classes of people, including scoundrels who dreamt of making quick money through fraud or trickery, A-frame coolies who carried freight on their backs to warehouses, barmaids who sold liquor to sailors and shamans who prayed for safety of seamen.


□ Ports and docks: place of jobs and life

- The exhibition makes an introduction of stories separately about Gyeonggang residents at different ports and docks so that visitors can start from Gwangnaru Port, the upper stream, to Yanghwajin Port that is downstream.

  ▶ At the center of the exhibition room is the Hwangpo sailboat with a 9-meter-long sail up to the ceiling. The sailboat was built by shipbuilding master Kim Gwi-seong, Gyeonggi Province intangible cultural property No. 11, who had built ships near Hangang River over two generations. Visitors will have a more pleasant experience because they are able to get on the boat in person.


- In the late Joseon Dynasty, Gwangjin, Ttukseom Island, Seobinggo, Hangangjin, Yongsan, Seogang, and Mapo looked quite different although their names remain the same as what they are now. Specialized types of business thrived in each area, around ports and docks, and disputes over business rights lingered.

  ▶ It was Ttukseom Island where lumbers piled up like a mountain after timbers from Gwangnaru (Gwangjin), the first gateway to enter Hanyang from the upper stream of Hangang River, and Jeongseon flowed downstream in the form of rafts.

  ▶ The ice storage and business became very popular as ice was broken from Hangang River and transported to Dongbinggo and Seobinggo. The resultant rise in demand for ice caused privately-owned icehouses to enter the market, resulting in the emergence of private ice storage and sales merchants in Mangwon and Hapjeong. Consequently, refrigerated carriers appeared one after another, prompting seafood to be marketed in the form of fresh fish.

  ▶ As cargo vessels flooded Yongsan and Seogang, Gyeonggang residents affiliated with Unbugye (group transporting luggage) and Magye (group taking care of horses) who transported segok from vessels to warehouses increased as well. The daily wage for loading and unloading was merely 2 jeon, and those in the sector were wage earners who sustained themselves in Mapo.

  ▶ Mapo, which had been home to the first “Gaekju” merchants, was the biggest center of logistics and commerce where seafood, rice, and salt were in circulation.


- Stories regarding diverse class of people who spearheaded dynamic changes during the late Joseon Dynasty, emerging from a discourse led by the king and nobility, are featured intriguingly through old documents, drawings, and videos to help people’s understanding.

  ▶ There are also rarely-seen relics such old documents as Jangbingdeungrok, Jeongjobyeongosohoideungrok, Geumreungjip, Jonjaejip and Upodocheongdeungrok and merchants’ documents and certificates like Imchipyo, Chulchapyo, Seondorok, Supyo, and pots for salted shrimp in Mapo.