Wakan (倭館)

Wakan (왜관) was a foreign settlement for Japanese people established at the Southern area of Korean Peninsula from the medieval to modern period of Japan, or in the Yi Dynasty Korea period (Korean Dynasties period). Prior to the Bunroku-Keicho War (Japan's Invasion of Korea, it is called Jinshin waran and Teiyu sairan in Korea) there were several Wakan. In the Edo period, Wakan was restricted to only Busan Metropolitan City, where the Tsushima-fuchu Domain of Japan conducted diplomacy and commerce with Korean side.

Medieval wakan

Unlike Ming established in 1368, Yi Dynasty Korea, established in 1392, did not prohibit commerce ships other than Choko-sen (ships used especially for paying tribute) from entering its ports, and it imposed no restriction to the port of entry. Therefore, the number of Japanese daimyo (feudal lord) and merchants trading with Korea rapidly increased, but because some of them turned into wako (Japanese pirates) once they found unfavorable terms of trade, the Korean government eventually restricted the port of entry for koriwasen (ship for trading with Korea) only to Busanpo, Tongne Prefecture (present Busan Metropolitan City), the location where Local naval officer of Gyeongsang left-sided Prefecture was, and, Naijiho, Jinhae Prefecture (present, Jinhae City, Gyeongsang-namdo Prefecture), the location where Local naval officer of Gyeongsang right-sided Prefecture was, around 1407. In 1410, the port of entry for the Japanese official ships to dispatch envoys was also limited to those two.

In 1426, Saemontaro SODA from Tsushima, who had great interests in the foreign trade of Korea at that time, pleaded to the Korean Government for free trade at any place in left and right sided provinces of Gyeongsang. Although that request was turned down, as an alternative, Enbo (port of En) of Ulsan (present Ulsan Metropolitan City) was added to the port of entry.

At first, those ports were nothing more than designated ports to accept Japanese ships, but gradually, many Japanese began living in these areas, and the Korean Government could not stop it. These ports were called Sanpo Wakan (consular office in Sanpo).

Unnaturalized Japanese residents in the Korean Peninsula were called kokyowa, and they were self-governed headed by their leader. Some kokyowa breached the limitation of wakan to live there, engaged in fishery or agriculture, conducted illegal trade, or became wako (Japanese pirates). Since the Korean Government was at first unable to exercise on Japanese the right to collect taxes nor the right to judge criminal cases, it pressured them in an attempt to put them under its control. In 1510, the Japanese became discontented with the Korean side, partly due to troubles in trade, which caused a big-scale insurgence, with reinforcements from Tsushima. The insurgence, called the Sanpo War, was eventually suppressed by the Korean army and Sanpo Wakan was closed, part of which was resumed afterward.

Fuzanho Wakan (consular office in Fuzanho)

Later, this was also called Busan-po Wakan (consular office in Busan port). Located in the present-day Jaseonda, Dong Ward, Busan Metropolitan City, Fuzanho Wakan was administratively under the control of castle of Tongne Prefecture in the north, and militarily under the control of Local naval office in the west. In 1494, approximately 450 Japanese resided there. After temporary closure due to the Sanpo War in 1510, Seiho (port of Sei) was resumed by the treaty between Tsushima and Korea in 1512, and then Busanpo Wakan was also resumed in 1521. Busan Wakan existed until the invasion of Korea by Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI in 1592, and was the one where Japanese had resided for the longest period among others in Sanpo Wakan.

Naijiho Wakan (consular office in Naiji port)

It was also called Seiho Wakan (consular office in Sei port) and located in the present-day Kairi village, Hotokudo Cave (薺徳洞槐井里), Jinhae City, Gyeongsang-namdo Prefecture. At that time, it was under the jurisdiction of Ungcheon Prefecture in the north. This was the biggest wakan in Sanpo with 2,500 Japanese residents as of 1494.

Although the Korean Government extradited the Japanese who infringed the agreement between Japan and Korea restricting the number of residents, the population would go up again after a while. In 1510, the Sanpo War erupted after the Korean Government imposed trading control as sanctions. After being closed once, Naijiho Wakan was reopened by the treaty between Tsushima and Korea in 1512, but again closed due to the Wako Incident in 1544 and was never reopened.

Enbo Wakan (consular office in En port)

It was located in the present-day Enbodo (塩浦洞), Jung Ward, Ulsan Metropolitan City. Being on the shore to the south of the old town area of Ulsan across the bay, the location of Enbo Wakan is now the premise of Hyundai auto plant. At that time, it was under the jurisdiction of Ulsan County office and Heiba Setsudoshi (Regional Commandants of army) of Gyeonsang-jwado Prefecture in the old town area of Ulsan. Enbo Wakan was opened in 1426, and its population of Japanese residents stood at around 150 in 1494. After being closed due to the Sanpo War in 1510, it was never reopened. Enbo Wakan was the smallest wakan in Sanpo with the shortest duration.

Wakan in Seoul

In the Hanseong (present-day Seoul), the capital of Yi Dynasty Korea, there was also a facility named 'Dongpyoung-gwan,' or commonly called wakan, that was used to entertain Japanese Daimyo and merchants asking for commercial intercourse. The sole purpose of the facility was to entertain guests, and it was not meant for residential location. The name of the place where this wakan was located later became Waegwan-dong (倭館洞) in Seoul, which remained until the early 20th century. The place was renamed Yamato cho in the Korean colonial era, and now is Chung Mu Ro, Jung Ward, Seoul Special City.

Early modern wakan

The Bunroku-Keicho War beginning in 1592 severed the diplomatic relations between Japan and Korea, and just after the war, there were many envoys who were dispatched to Korea by the Tsushima clan to ask for trade resumption but they never returned to Japan. However, thanks to desperate efforts by the Tsushima clan, including extradition of Korean captives, the first Chosen Tsushinshi (the Korean Emissary) arrived in Japan in 1607, leading to the recovery of Japanese-Korean diplomatic relations. The Tsushima clan was appointed in charge of diplomacy with Korea by the Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun), and was also bestowed the exclusive right for commerce with Korea at the newly-established wakan in Busan. Based on the Kiyu Treaty concluded in 1609, Korea bestowed government posts on the Tsushima clan and a few others, and granted them privileges as Japanese envoys. However, visits to Seoul by Japanese diplomats were not permitted except once. Also, the Japanese were prohibited from going out of the wakan.

Dumopo Wakan

Dumopo Wakan was the wakan that was newly constructed near the present-day Jwacheon-dong, Dong Ward, Busan Metropolitan City in 1607, having an area of approximately 33,000 square meters. It was also called Furu Wakan (古倭館). Inside it, with the reception office for envoys at the center, the house of the manager, a building for visitors, Toko-ji Temple, the Japanese guard house, liquor stores, and some other Japanese-style houses were constructed by the Tsushima clan. In 1647, the manager appointed by Tsushima clan began residing in the wakan. However, since its space became insufficient as the commerce had been thriving, combined with its poor transportation conditions, the Japanese-side repeatedly asked the Korean government for its relocation. In 1673, the relocation was finally approved and it was moved to Choryang-dong Wakan.

Choryang-dong Wakan

Choryang-dong wakan was the Japanese residential area that was newly constructed all around Ryuto-zan park in Nampo-dong, Jung Ward, Busan Metropolitan City in 1678, having an ample area of 330,000 square meters. Is was 25 times as large as Dejima island in Nagasaki, Japan (Dutch trading post), in the same age which was approximately 13,200 square meters. It was also called Shin-Wakan. In its large premises including Ryuto-zan mountain, there were the house of the manager, Kaiichi-daicho (trade hall) (also called Koekiba), a courthouse, Hama bandokoro (guard house for the coast), shrines such as Benten-jinja Shrine, Toko-ji Temple, and residences for Japanese (Tsushima people).

Other than the manager of the wakan dispatched by the Tsushima clan, among Japanese who were allowed to reside in the wakan were officers such as local governors (governors in charge of trading), Yokome (job title in samurai family, the job involves watching over officers), the secretary, translators; their respective employees; and also merchants like haberdashery shop owners, tailors, and liquor shop owners. Some overseas students who studied medicine and Korean also resided there. Since Korea was the pioneer in the medicine field at that time, a number of doctors, both town doctors and doctors working at a public clinic, came to wakan to study internal medicine, surgery, acupuncture, and moxibustion, and so on. In addition, in a Korean language school newly established in the Tsushima Domain by Hoshu AMENOMORI in 1727, its top performers were allowed to study at wakan. Around 400 to 500 people were estimated to reside in this wakan at any time. Needless to say, the number of its residents would jump after arrival of the trading ships from Tsushima.

Manemon SODA was among the constructors who were involved in the construction of the wakan from 1772 to 1780.

Commerce in wakan

In the Medieval Period wakan trade, Japan exported copper, sulfur, and gold, and also resold the products of the south seas like sappanwood, a red dye, and spices like pepper to Korea via the Ryukyu Islands. Imports from Korea were mainly cotton. In Medieval Japan, full-fledged cultivation of cotton had not yet begun. Finally, in the Edo period, it became unnecessary for Japan to import cotton. In the public trade with the formal missions for friendship, a lot of Korean books including Daizo-kyo Sutra (the Tripitaka) were imported into Japan.

In the Modern Period wakan trade, Japan exported silver, sulfur, gold, and other products of the south seas to Korea. Korea exported to Japan not only Korean products including Asian ginseng and tiger leather, but also Chinese products including raw silk thread and silk textile, which were its biggest exports in the early Edo period. It was because at that time, Japanese favored Chinese silk as luxury garments over low-quality Japanese ones. While Korea was able to obtain those Chinese products through the tribute trade and border trade, Japan could not do anything but wait for the Chinese smuggling ships, as Japan had been denied entry to Ming. The Tsushima clan made huge profits from this relay trade of Chinese products, with its stipend was estimated as over 100,000 koku (approximately 18 million liters of crop yield).

However, advancement of Japanese silk production technology in the 18th century diminished the imports of Chinese products, which had devastating effects on Busan trade. Also, Asian ginseng seeds, strictly prohibited by the Korean government, were secretly brought to Japan, resulting in the success of cultivation of Asian ginseng in Japan. At the same time, since the amount of silver produced in Japan was sharply decreased, the export of silver was prohibited and instead copper and gold became Japan's major export products. As a result, wakan trade had dwindled after the 18th century, although it was not terminated.

Demise of Wakan

In 1867, a Karo (chief retainer) of the Tsushima clan who visited Busan Wakan notified the Heungseon Daewongun administration that the new Meiji government had been established, but the Korean government rejected receipt of the Japanese sovereign's message, saying Japan's new sovereign identified himself as 'Emperor.'
When the Haihan-chiken (abolition of feudal domains and establishment of prefectures) was carried out in Japan in 1871, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs took over the right of trade with Korea, a right that had long been consigned to the Tsushima clan since the Edo period. In 1872, Yoshimoto HANABUSA, Minister for Foreign Affairs, arrived in Busan and confiscated Choryang-dong Wakan to rename it as the Japanese diplomatic mission. In response, the Korean government adamantly demanded Japanese withdrawal, which subsequently escalated into a diplomatic problem between Japan and Korea, leading to the rise of Seikanron (debate on subjugation of Korea) in Japan. Causing the Ganghwa Island Incident in 1876, Japan demanded Korea to open the country by gunboat diplomacy, and compelled it to allow Japanese diplomatic envoys to stay in Seoul by concluding the Treaty of Ganghwa in the next year. This ended the 200-year history of wakan in Busan.

Extant Geographical Names of Wakan

In Chilgok County, Gyeongsang buk-do Prefecture, Korea, a large village of Wakan (waegwan) still exists, also representing the station name of Gyeongbu Line, the interchange name of Gyeongbu motor way, and the location of Chilgok County Office, all of which were named because the place was once the army provisions storage in the Bunroku-Keicho War.

Chilgok Village does not exist today, since it was incorporated into Daegu Metropolitan City which was promoted to be a government-ruled municipality in 1981.

[Original Japanese]