Yeongdo was originally called Jeolyeongdo.
The name Jeolyeongdo which uses the character “jeol” meaning “to cut” or “to break away” and the character “yeong” meaning “shadow” – originated from Yeongdo island’s fine horses that are ‘so fast that could break away or outrun from their own shadows’.
Being an island, Yeongdo was a safe place for the inhabitants because it did not have any dangerous animals like the mainland did. The island had a mild climate and plenty of food to eat such as clams, fish and berries. Yeongdo was also famous for its free range horses from the Silla Dynasty Period to the mid Joseon Dynasty Period.
Situated close to the mainland and having optimal geographical conditions for grazing horses on pastures, Yeongdo always had a government-managed horse pasture and fine horses.
According to the Kim Yu-sin part in Samguk Sagi Yeoljeon, the biographies in Samguk Sagi which is a historical record of the Three Kingdoms of Korea: Goguryeo, Baekje and Silla, there is a record of Queen Seondeok the 33rd king of Silla Dynasty giving Kim Yu-sin’s grandson Kim Yun-joong a fine horse from Jeolyeongdo for Kim Yu-sin’s contribution in uniting the three kingdoms.
In historical records Goryeosa (History of Goryeo) and Dongguk Yeoji Seungnam (Augumented Survey of the Geography of Korea, written during the Joseon Dynasty Period), there are records about Gyeon Hwon, the king of Hubaekje or Later Baekje giving a fine horse to Wang Gun the founder of the Goryeo Dynasty.
During the Japanese colonial period, Yeongdo was called Makinoshima and this means an ‘island of horse pastures’ in Japanese.
After the independence from the Japanese rule, while reorganizing administrative divisions, the old name Jeolyeongdo was shortened to today’s Yeongdo.
Looking at the shell middens found in Yeongseon-dong and Dongsam-dong, Yeongdo is presumed to be one of the earliest human settlements in Busan.
Shell middens are piles of shells left by humans and these piles often preserve various relics that can be valuable materials for studying the lives in ancient days. And, Yeongdo, considering various living conditions, was a very livable place for ancient times.
Yeongdo was inhabited since the neolithic age but after the Japanese Invasion of Korea in 1592, the island was deserted by the residents. Yeongdo became a deserted island because many people moved to other areas fearing another Japanese invasion and because people did not want to move to Yeongdo which was close to Choryang Waegwan, a Japanese settlement established in Choryang.
Only about a hundred households remained in Yeongdo for fisheries but when a naval base called Jeolyeongdojin was established in 1881, the number of residents started to increase gradually. In 1914, Daegyo-dong was called Bukbinjeong. The name Bukbinjeong meant a village in the coast north of a village called Nambin which was situated in today’s Jagalchi area.
In 1931, when Yeongdodaegyo (Yeongdo Bridge) was opened, the village was named Daegyo-dong after Yeongdo Bridge and after Korea’s independence from the Japanese rule, according to Korean government’s policy for changing the Japanese-style names of places back to Korean-style names, the Chinese characters of Daegyo-dong was changed.
Daepyeong-dong was originally called Pungbalpo because of the strong winds in this region. During the Japanese colonial period, the northwestern coast of Yeongdo was reclaimed in 1931 and the region was referred to as Gapjeong. The letter ‘gap’ meant a hillside or a pointy land sticking out to the sea and this name was given after the geographical feature of this region before the coast was reclaimed. During the land reclamation period, Pungbalpo was renamed Daepungpo because of the strong winds and waves. After Korea’s independence from the Japanese rule, in 1947, according to Korean government’s policy for changing the Japanese-style names of places back to Korean-style names, Daepung was changed to Daepyeong and the region was newly named Daepyeong-dong.
Namhang-dong’s old name was Seokmalchu but the origin of this name is still unknown. In 1885, when Joelyeongdo’s deputy commander Lim Ik-jun was naming regions, he gave a lot of names related to Taoist hermits (sinseon) because people believed that the Eastern Sea is where Taoist hermits lived. So, he changed Seokmalchu to Yeonggye which means a ‘village with a valley of Taoist hermits’.
In 1931, building Yeongdo Bridge, the nearby coast was reclaimed and the region was named in a Japanese-style to Seokgyeonjeong. After Korea’s independence from the Japanese rule, according to Korean government’s policy for changing the Japanese-style names of places back to Korean-style names, the region was renamed Namhang-dong because it was next to Busan’s Namhang (south port) and it was where a lot of fisheries-related sites and maritime-related agencies were located at.
Yeongseon-dong’s old name was Naritga because there used to be small hill called Yongmisan where today’s Busan City Hall stands and below that hill was a naru (dock) where people coming to Yeongdo arrived at. In 1885, when Joelyeongdo’s deputy commander Lim Ik-jun was naming regions, he named this region Yeongseon after Yeongju which was one of three legendary islands in the Eastern Sea of Korea.
During the Japanese colonial period, this region was named Eoyeongjeong because it was a good place facing Japan and after Korea’s independence from the Japanese rule, the region was renamed Yeongseon-dong.
It is unknown which period it was established but in Sinseon-dong, there was a shrine called Hasshidang. This shrine was located in a forest near a private school called Okseong School (today’s Yeongdo Elementary School) but was damaged during a school expansion construction. The name Hasshidang is presumed to have originated from Asshidang which is a shrine dedicated to a female diety.
In 1885, when Joelyeongdo’s deputy commander Lim Ik-jun was naming regions, he named this place Sinseon (Taoist hermit) to mean a village where Taoist hermits live. During the Japanese colonial period, a mudflat on the northwestern coast were reclaimed and the region was called Sansujeong but was renamed Sinseon-dong after Korea’s independence from the Japanese rule.
Yeongdo is an island of one big mountain that has three peaks, Jobong, Jabong and Sonbong. The people referred this mountain as Mt. Gogalsan but Lim Ik-jun, the official who served as Yeongdo’s deputy commander for the longest period, named this mountain Mt. Bongnaesan to mean a ‘mountain where Taoist hermits live’. Bongnae-dong is at the All the villages in Yeongdo were originally referred to as Bongnae-dong because they were all formed below Mt. Bongnaesan, the central mountain of Yeongdo. But Bongnae-dong today finally became the only Bongnae-dong because it was the village located on the main range of Mt. Bongnaesan.
During the Japanese colonial period, the Japanese called degraded this region by changing the Chinese characters of Mt. Gogalsan to mean a ‘mountain with no food’ or ‘scrawny lizard’ but it was generally referred to as Hanjeong because it was facing Busan Port. After Korea’s independence from the Japanese rule, the region was renamed Bongnae-dong.
Looking at the shell midden dating back to the neolithic age found in this region, Cheonghak-dong is presumed to have been inhabited from the ancient days but after the Japanese Invasion of Korea in 1592 and government’s Gongdo Policy (governmental policy implemented to protect the people by encouraging or forcing the people to leave islands or border regions), Cheonghak-dong area was largely deserted by its inhabitants. Then later on, fisheries started to develop, generating coastal names such as Dduggeopbagu, Neokseombangwoo and Deongmeodeul, people started living in this region and a place called Jonaegi was established as well.
The name Jonaegi is said to have been given to this region because there was a lot of mudflats and jorak (puddles formed on mudflats) being formed due to tidal changes. Some say it was named Jonaegi when a diplomatic delegate named Joeom brought sweet potatoes from Japan and gave a report on cultivating sweet potatoes in this region. When deputy commander Lim Ik-jun was newly naming regions in Yeongdo, he named this region Cheonghak-dong saying that this region looks like Taohist hermit riding on a crane. During the Japanese colonial period, the region was renamed Cheonghakjeong but got its name back after Korea’s independence from the Japanese rule.
Dongsam-dong is comprised of 3 small villages; Sang-ri, Jung-ri and Ha-ri. Looking at the shell middens found in Dongsam-dong and Achi-do Island, Dongsam-dong is presumed to have been a culturally rich region since the neolithic age. Even when Yeongdo was deserted by many of its inhabitants after the Japanese Invasion of Korea in 1592, Dongsam-dong was still frequented by fishermen because of its fine marine resources and it was also one of the first places where villages were established before a naval base was set up in Yeongdo. Sang-ri in Dongsam-dong was referred to as Utseobal and Ha-ri in Dongsam-dong as Araetseobal after the fisheries in this region. Jung-ri was referred to as Geomjeongbangwoo and Gujinson area of it as Dongji after the geographical features of this region. At Araetseobal, there was a pond called Gamyeon, Gamji or Gamjeong which was regarded as the cleanest pond where Paljunma (‘The Eight Finest Horses’) came for water. When horse pastures started to be established at Yeongdo, the deputy general of Yeongdo, Lim Ik-jun changed Utseobal to Sang-ri. And, since Mt. Bongnaesan in Yeongdo was regarded as a place where Taoist hermits live, Dongji in Jung-ri where a naval base was located at was named Yeongju.
In 1931, according to Korean government’s policy for changing the Japanese-style names of places back to Korean-style names, the region was renamed Dongsanjeong until 1947 when it was renamed Dongsam-dong which meant ‘3 villages in the eastern part of Yeongdo.‘