NK Orijent was founded in 1919 in Sušak, at that time predominantly Croatian, eastern part of the current city of Rijeka, as opposed to Fiume, western part of the city of Rijeka with a notable Italian minority.
According to the legend, during his time on journey to the United States, one of the club's founders saw a ship named Orient in the New York Harbor. After he came back, he suggested new club to be named Orient, which was adopted. As regimes changed, Orijent was often forced to change its name, so during its history it was known as Jedinstvo, Primorac, Primorje and Budućnost. Finally, from 1953 onwards, club carries the original name Orijent.
Although Orijent spend most of its history in lower tiers of Yugoslav and Croatian football, it was and still is popular among Sušak's population.
Club's greatest success came in 1969 when they were champions of Yugoslav Second League's Division West but were unable to win promotion through playoff. Orijent and city rivals Rijeka contested numerous derbies during the early 1970s. Other notable successes were quarterfinals of Yugoslav Cup in 1980-81 and 1982-83. Orijent played top tier football only once, during the season 1996–97 when they finished 14th and were relegated.
In June 2014, the club was liquidated due to its inability to service mounting debts. Shortly thereafter, the club was re-established as NK Orijent 1919, and admitted to the fifth tier of the Croatian league system in time for the start of the 2014–15 campaign.