Yoon Sang-eun at the Busan Modern History Museum

My wife and I visited the third of five museums in Busan, the Busan Modern History Museum. Of special interest for both of us was this special exhibition, due to close next week, about Cheongwoon Yoon Sang-eun (1897-1984). The founder of Gupo Bank, and a civic leader in business, dinance, and education, Yoon’s life spanned the old world of Joseon and the modern post-Park era. The exhibition, which blames the demise of Gupo Bank during the Depression in the 20s on the Japanese, includes personal artifacts and documents related to his various activities in Busan.

However, there’s some controversy about the cause of Gupo Bank’s demise.

The predecessor of the Gupo Bank was the Gupo Savings Inc., which was established for accumulation of trading capital by Korean people. We can understand the character of the Bank exactly by studying the change of its stockholders and management formations.

The Bank’s founders were as a whole landowners, merchants, and influential persons of Gupo and its region. The Bank name changed to the Gupo Bank in 1912, when Busan merchants on a large scale took stock in the Bank. And then, 1915 the main office moved to Busan in the name of the Gyeongnam Bank. After that, most customers were Busan merchants. Moreover, many landowners from Gyeongnam took stock in the Bank in order to do business corporations as a momentum of the amalgamation of the Japanese Bank to Korea in 1918. Those who were the large stocklholders and the managers of the Bank aimed at raising funds without a hitch in managing their corporations. However, they failed in bussiness by depression early in 1920s and quitted their business in Busan, so that they could be no longer stockholder. On the other hand, the big landowners from Milyang, Daegu, and so forth nearby Busan took over the reins of management as a large stockholder by raising the stocks and getting their membership of stockholder.

The Bank had some distinctions in management as follows. The Gupo Savings Inc. made a business of loaning to merchants and landowners of Gupo and its region. After being the Gupo Bank, the main business of the Bank was discounting a bill for traders from Busan. In profit of the bank, the business took a great position. And in saving account a current deposit was much more than a fixed deposit.

However, by depression and decline of Korean merchants early in 1920s, the Bank management became worse. As a result, the Governmemt-General and the Joseon Bank united the Daegu Bank and the Gyeongnam Bank in force. the Gyeongsang United Bank established the main office in Daegu and the branch office in Busan on 31. July, 1928.

A man whose career straddled a tumltuous century deserves an exhibition

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Filed under: Business/Economy, Korea Tagged: busan, busanmodernhistorymuseum, Korea, southkorea