Busan (Korean: 부산), formerly known as Pusan under the old Romanization, is South Korea's second most-populous city after Seoul, with a population of over 3.4 million. Officially Busan Metropolitan City, it is the economic, cultural and educational center of southeastern Korea, with the it's port being the country's busiest and the fifth-busiest in the world. The surrounding "Southeast Economic Zone" also known as the BusanGyeongnam Area (including Ulsan Metropolitan City and South Gyeongsang Province) is South Korea's largest industrial area.
The city is known for it's "second" status next to Seoul. There's the aforementioned population which is second after Seoul, and the population density is also the second after the capital city. Gimhae International Airport also has the second most international passengers after Incheon International Airport.
The meaning of the name Busan (Chinese Character: 釜山), which first appeared during the reign of King Seongjong of the Joseon Dynasty(mid 15th century), is translated as "mountain shaped like an upturned cauldron". Which specific mountain it refers to is still up in the air, but it does allude to the heavily mountainous nature of the city which was apparent even back then. Due to all of these mountains, a lot of the roads were paved on mountainside, making them curvaceous. There were also a lot of "daldongne" or shanty towns built on slopes, most of them originating from the refugees who fled from the north during The Korean War. While a lot of them are gone thanks to urban redevelopment, the ones that are remaining are now considered tourist destinations with unique charms from a bygone age, most notable example being the Gamcheon Culture Village. This lack of flat plains meant that during recent urbanization skyscrapers and high-rises were preferred over building low. Busan has one of the most skyscrapers in the country, comparable to the likes of Seoul and Incheon, and some say it even has the best, most recognizable skyline within the country. This discrepancy between fancy skyscrapers and mountain towns is somewhat reminiscent of Rio de Janeiro(although daldongnes are nowhere near as bad as fabellas), while the mountainous terrain and seaport is similar to Hong Kong.
Paleolithic remains found in the Jung-dong(Ward or Neighborhood) and Jwa-dong in Haeundae District shows a history of Busan beginning in the prehistoric age, though it is likely that they wete just staying there for a while and not permanently. The proso millet and foxtail millet grains found in this area were from BCE 5,000, which makes them one of the oldest archaeological grain samples in the Korean Peninsula. In addition, neolithic relics were discovered in shell mounds in Dongsam-dong, and a shell mound dating between the BCE era to the 3rd Century A.D. was found in the Dongnae District.
Mt Geochil (Geochilsan-guk) located at what is currently northern Busan is recorded as a chiefdom of the Jinhan Confederacy in the 2nd4th centuries. It was absorbed by Silla and was organized into a district (gun). Other historical texts mention a chiefdom called "Docko-guk" located nearby, but some scholars are saying that this was the same nation as Geochilsan-guk. The name Dokro is attributed as the origin of the name "Dongnae," which was used as the name of region for more than a millennia before the Japanese Annexation. The grave goods excavated from mounded burials at Bokcheon-dong indicate that a complex chiefdom ruled by powerful individuals was present in the Busan area in the 4th century, just as Korea's Three Kingdoms were forming. The mounded burials of Bokcheon-dong were built along the top of a ridge that overlooks a wide area that makes up parts of modern-day Dongnae-gu and Yeonje-gu. Archaeologists excavated more than 250 iron weapons and ingots from Burial No. 38, a wooden chamber tomb at Bokcheon-dong.
In 757 A.D. during the reign of King Gyeongdeok of Unified Silla, the area was renamed to "Dongnae-gun" and "Gijang-hyun" which is still used to this day. Buddhism was big in Silla, so naturally a lot of Buddhist temples were established during this era. Buddhism being popular also meant that bodies were cremated after death, so giant graves disappeared. This era is also responsible for the names "Taejongdae" and "Haeundae," which are names of locations in modern day Busan.
During the Later Three Kingdoms age and the subsequent Goryeo era, the region became politically irrelevant as it was far from the capital city of Kaesong(then known as Gaegyeong). It was relegated to "Dongnae-hyun" from "Dongnae-gun," hyun being the lesser administrative division of the two.
From the beginning of the 15th century, the Joseon Dynasty designated Busan as a trading port with the Japanese and allowed their settlement in an area called Waegwan. During the reign of King Taejong and Sejong, the government continued to sever and resume ties with the Japanese as a countermeasure against the "Wokou"(Korean: 왜구) or pirate infestation. But in 1443 along with other Japanese settlements in Ulsan and Jinhae which diminished later, Dongnae was semipermanently confirmed as trading posts open for Japanese merchants. It also consolidated it's position as a administrative center and military stronghold of the region.
The Busan settlement continued until Japan invaded Korea in 1592. After the war, diplomatic relations with the new Tokugawa shogunate in Japan were established in 1607, and Busan was permitted to be reconstructed. The Japanese settlement, though relocated into Choryang later, continued to exist until Korea was exposed to modern diplomacy in 1876. In 1876, Busan became the first international port in Korea under the terms of the Treaty of Ganghwa.
During the Japanese rule, Busan developed into a hub trading port with Japan. Busan was the only city in Korea to adopt the steam tramway before electrification was introduced in 1924.
During the Korean War, Busan was one of only two cities in South Korea not captured by the North Korean army within the first three months of the war, the other being Daegu. As a result, the cities became refugee camp sites for Koreans during the war.
As Busan was one of the few areas in Korea that remained under the control of South Korea throughout the Korean War, for some time it served as a temporary capital of the Republic of Korea. UN troops established a defensive perimeter around the city known as the Pusan Perimeter in the summer and autumn of 1950. Since then, the city has been a self-governing metropolis and has built a strong urban character.
In 1963, Busan separated from Gyeongsangnam-do to become a Directly Governed City (Jikhalsi). In 1983, the provincial capital of Gyeongsangnam-do was moved from Busan to Changwon.
In 1995, Busan became a Metropolitan City (Gwangyeoksi).
The 15 "gu"s or districts and one "gun (county)"
Busan is consisted of 15 gu's (구 in Hangul, 區 in Hanja), each of them having hundreds of thousands of citizens. This is the most gus among the Metropolitan Cities, which is to be expected given it's population. Each gu elects its own mayor. The gu's are divided into "dong"s or neighborhoods, and their are 98 of them in Busan.
- Gijang The only "gun" or county among the administrative divisions, Gijang is the largest by far, occupying a whopping 218.32 square kilometers, which is about two seventh of the entire city. Despite only being a county, it has a population density higher than some of the other cities nearby, and it is the county with the most population in the entire country(165,016 as of 2019). It being a county, it is still the most rural part of the city, but it's underdeveloped nature attracts a lot of massive projects that couldn't fit in the already developed city, so the county has a lot of future potential.
Busan in media
In general, the portrayal of South Korea in foreign media was pretty rare due to it having two influential neighbors, and even if it was portrayed, most of it was Seoul which made Busan's presence in media virtually nonexistent. But luckily, as of 2010s, just like the capital city, the situation is getting better as the city is getting a bit more coverage and recognition, which includes being the setting of a couple of works.
- Busan is featured quite significantly as the early setting for Black Panther. Quite a lot of action sequence takes place.
- D.Va from Overwatch has Busan as her base of operations. A stylized futuristic version of Busan also appears as a Control map in the game.