The Legacy of Incheon Harbor: Incheon’s Former Daehwajo
Built about 120 years ago, one machiya (traditional Japanese wooden house) still remains near Incheon Harbor. It once housed a cargo company called “Daehwajo,” which was established around the time of the opening of Incheon Port, where poor Korean laborers went back and forth to work every day. This was the center of the Japanese settlement in the area, where the consulate, police offices, post offices, and other public offices were concentrated. Now, 120 years later, Daehwajo has been turned into a café. After the café owner bought the old building, its historical value began to draw increasing attention and recognition. It had always been assumed that Daehwajo had been constructed in the 1930s, but that assumption was proven wrong when an image of the building was found on a postcard from the end of the 19th century as well as when the name of the shipping company’s owner was discovered in the records of the Japanese Government-General of Korea from the 1910s. As it is the only Japanese machiya that remains in the Incheon Harbor area, experts recommended that the Daehwajo building be restored rather than remodeled, after carrying out extensive historical research. Daehwajo is a place of significant historical value that, to this day, still contains traces of Korea’s past in its very walls.