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Everything You Need to Know About Ulsan

Fascinating Photos of the Past

It’s easy to look around modern South Korea and forget that within living memory, this country was wartorn and impoverished, and has within 60 years built itself up to become one of the strongest economies in the world.

KoreaBang has posted a number of really cool retrospective photo essays on Korea. It’s really worth taking a look at what the country was like only a few decades ago, to give you a sense of how different life would have been like for the parents and grandparents of the children many of us teach today.

This article on Korea’s rapid modernization has a number of photos from along the Cheon-gye-cheon (cheon = stream) in what is now one of the most vibrant downtown areas. Here’s a photo of the Cheongyecheon area today:



And from the KoreaBang retrospective:

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In another article, a former US soldier shares photos he took in 1964 in Seoul, Jeju and elsewhere. You can see how some of the traditions are still alive and well, like the dried fish hanging in the market, while other things have changed significantly.


(photo by Klaus T. Moser-Maync)

The following article shows just how horrifying war is, as it documents the Korean War of 1950-1953 (which is still technically on-going, as a ceasefire was signed, but no peace treaty has ever been reached). The contents are quite graphic, so be forewarned.

Downtown Daejeon, merely 60 years ago. (originally posted on

Daejeon, merely 60 years ago. (originally posted on

Daejeon today

Daejeon today (source

And finally, a series of colour photos of Seoul taken in 1949 – the year before the Korean war started. Rush hour looked a little different in those days!

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South Korea has come so far, so fast, it’s hard to imagine what the grandparents must think when they look around at their grandchildren’s lives in 2014.


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Thanks to for this fascinating look at contemporary Korean history.