|• Revised Romanization||Gunsan-si|
Kunsan Air Base
Location in South Korea
|Administrative divisions||1 eup, 10 myeon, 19 dong|
|• Total||377.72 km2 (145.84 sq mi)|
|Population (March 2012)|
|• Density||740/km2 (1,900/sq mi)|
Gunsan is a city in North Jeolla Province, South Korea. It is located on the south bank of the Geum River just upstream from its exit into the Yellow Sea. Gunsan is served by frequent railway service on the Gunsan Line from Iksan. It is also connected to the Seohaean Expressway.
Gunsan was a small fishing village on the banks of the Geum River, near to where the river spills into the Yellow Sea. It sits on the fertile western Honam plain where much rice is harvested. Gunsan became a port in the late 19th century largely due to pressure from the Japanese on the Koreans to ship rice to Japan. In 1899, Gunsan Port officially opened up to international trade. Gunsan City was largely settled by Japanese during the period of Japanese colonization. The old (now demolished) City Hall and the Customs House are of Japanese construction. After liberation from the Japanese in 1945, Gunsan began to grow slowly.
The Korean War of the 1950s left the Gunsan area relatively unscathed. The initial drive south by the Communist North Koreans pushed the United Nations and South Korean forces toward Busan so quickly that Gunsan was spared from protracted fighting.
Nevertheless a battalion of Korean Marines, entrenched in the hills above Gunsan Port, withheld overwhelming communist forces. Their bravery created extra time for the evacuation of the town and port. The action is commemorated with a monument on the ridgeline where the heaviest fighting occurred. ( )
The drive north by the United Nations forces occurred so rapidly that there was little direct confrontation in the area. After the cessation of hostilities, the United States Air Force occupied nearby Kunsan Air Base, which has had an impact on Gunsan City.
Kunsan Air Base was originally constructed, under Japanese direction, by reclaiming mudflats starting in about 1923. Kunsan Air Base has hosted a variety of USAF combat aircraft. The proximity of US service members to Gunsan City has provided some economic growth to Gunsan City, but the base's influence has waned since the 1990s as a result of a more powerful and diversified Korean economy. The downtown shopping districts that catered to US troops have transformed into areas that are indistinguishable from surrounding areas that serve Korean shoppers. Only a few remaining stores hint at the area's previous manifestation as an American shopping district. Still, a small town (Okku-Silver Town, or more popularly America Town) still caters to US troops. Located about 5 kilometers from the main gate of Kunsan Air Base, America Town hosts a multitude of bars, dance clubs, restaurants and souvenir shops.
Today, Gunsan's economy thrives on fishing, agriculture and heavy industry located west of the city in the reclaimed area known as the Industrial Zone. Perhaps most notably, GM Korea operates a factory here which assembles the Chevrolet Aveo worldwide and as the Holden Barina in Australia and New Zealand. Near the port the Tata Daewoo Commercial Vehicle factory is located which produces Daewoo trucks for the domestic and the exporting market. In the domestic market vehicles are sold under Daewoo brand however Tata brandname is used for export due to the dilution of Daewoo brand.
Gunsan's three most famous tourist attractions are Gogunsangundo, Eunpa park and Geum river. Gunsan Islands are a group of islands consisting of 16 inhabited islands and 47 uninhabited islands. Gogunsangundo Islands constitutes Shinsido Island, Munyeodo Island, Bangchukdo Island, and Maldo Island, and Seonyudo Island is the center of the islands. Among the isles, Seon-yu Isle has been long recognized as one of the Seon-yu Eight Famous Spots which are renowned for their natural beauty. A passenger ship to Seonyudo Island operates on average 6-8 times a day. Departing times differ each month depending on the differences in the ebb and flow of the tide.
Eunpa, meaning "Silver Wave" (because of its feature of shining water under sunshine), was originally a reservoir for agriculture, but designated as a National Tourist Place in 1985. In spring, a 1-km cherry blossom tunnel is formed from the entrance to the facility compound. In summer, people can enjoy wind surfing and boating in the acacia fragrance. In fall, people can enjoy walking along a promenade stretching from the meeting square at the entrance while picking up chestnuts. It is not only known as a local representation of Gunsan, but also as the nation's tourist place with a mixture of Mulbit(Water and Light) Bridge with 370m length and 3m width. A music fountain operates 8times, 20minutes per round. It was selected as one of the 100 Big Noted Tourists in Korea in the 'Creating a Good Place to Live' Local Resources Contest.
In 1990, a river mouth bank was constructed at the mouth of Geum Rivers, which was the gateway of Baekje. It is spotlighted as the largest migrant bird colony in Korea with reed forests. It has become nationally famous because of the grand sight of many uncommon migratory birds such as Baikal teals, wild ducks, mallards, wild geese, herring gulls, black head gulls, black head Kentish plovers, etc., and approximately 500,000 winter migrant birds of 40 types visit between mid-October and March. A 360-degree observatory offers detailed and close-up views of migrant birds of the Geumgang River area, and the Bird Watching Gallery is the best vantage point in all of Korea to view migratory birds.
|Climate data for Gunsan (1981–2010)|
|Average high °C (°F)||3.4
|Daily mean °C (°F)||−0.4
|Average low °C (°F)||−3.7
|Precipitation mm (inches)||32.5
|Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm)||11.0||7.7||8.7||7.6||8.2||8.9||13.3||12.5||8.3||6.5||10.0||10.6||113.3|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||150.0||165.7||191.3||210.0||213.7||176.6||149.6||179.9||186.1||192.4||149.4||147.0||2,111.7|
|Source: Korea Meteorological Administration|
Gunsan is well known for sliced raw fish, or hoe. In addition to the renowned Gunsan Seafood Hotjip right on the water is the old port area, a new hae center is being constructed to the east of the city, by the Geum River dam/bridge. Gunsan also boasts a first-class seafood market. Situated right on the water front, this newer enclosed market has many fresh and frozen fish, crabs and shellfish; salted fish and shrimp and dried fish. On the upper level are a variety of sushi restaurants.
Twin towns — Sister cities
Gunsan is twinned with:
- Tacoma, Washington, USA (1979)
- Yantai, Shandong, China (1994)
- Gimcheon, North Gyeongsang, South Korea (1998)
- Dong-gu, Daegu, South Korea (2000)
- Pimpri-Chinchwad, Maharashtra, India (2004)
- Jamshedpur, Jharkhand, India (2004)
- Windsor, Ontario, Canada (2005)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Gunsan, Jeollabuk-do.|
- Lee Yunho (April 25, 2008), Confirmation of formal designation about Saemangeum-Gunsan free economic zone (in Korean), Jeonbuk provincial office report data
- Lee Myeongb_k; Hong Sangtae (2006), A Study on the Construction Plan of the Joint Logistics Center in Gunsan Industrial Complex (in Korean), Korea Logistics Research Association Inc., pp. 103–125
- Gunsan City website (Korean)
- Gunsan City (2008), Visit Gunsan 2008, tourism guide for Gunsan city (Korean)
- Yu Heeyeol (January 18, 2008), A proposal for improving Gunsan port (in Korean), Gunsan Mirae
- Yeo Gitae (2002), A Study on Strategy for Development of Kunsan and Janghang Port (in Korean), Korea Academy of International Commerce, pp. 209–232
- "Integrated preservation study on the oceanic environments in the Saemangeum area" (in Korean). 2007. Retrieved July 1, 2008.
- Go Seokjung (November 23, 2007), Creating a Good Place to Live, Local Resources Contest (in Korean), Newsis
- Gunsan passenger ship terminal (Korean)