The Port of Incheon lies at the mouth of the Han River about 40 kilometers west-southwest of Seoul, the capital of South Korea. South Korea's third largest city, the Port of Incheon is Seoul's main seaport and the site of the country's main international airport. Located almost 70 nautical miles southeast of the Port of Haeju in North Korea, the Port of Incheon is just over 30 kilometers south of the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas. It is also about 190 kilometers north of the Port of Gunsan. In 2005, more than 2.5 million people lived in the Port of Incheon.
Traditionally an industrial city, the Port of Incheon has the status equal to a province. It is a metropolitan city under the direct control of the national government, although it is considered part of the Seoul metropolitan area. The Port of Incheon's industries include chemicals, salt, manufacturing, lumber, oil refining, iron and steel production, plate-glass making, and high technology. The 21st Century Port of Incheon Free Economic Zone (IFEZ) was created on reclaimed land and included a new planned high-tech city, Songdo. The IFEZ covers almost 21 thousand hectares and includes three regions: Songdo, Cheongna, and Yeongjong Island.
Archeological evidence suggests that humans have lived in the area of the Port of Incheon since the New Stone Age. The first written record of the Port of Incheon dates to 475 AD during King Jangsu's reign when it was called Michuhol.
After the unification of the Three Kingdoms, the future Port of Incheon was renamed Soseong. In the 11th Century, King Sukjong's maternal family came from the Port of Incheon area, and the king granted higher status to the city, naming it Gyeongwon. The Port of Incheon area was further promoted by King Injong in the 12th Century and renamed Inju. However, a rebellion seriously weakened the family's status, and it was demoted by King Gongyang in 1390. From the late 14th Century, the Port of Incheon was a fishing port.
The Port of Incheon got its current name in 1413 AD during the reign of King Taejong. Located on an estuary of the Han River, its location made a good harbor. Over the centuries, the city underwent several name changes. By the time the modern port was established in 1883, it was called Jemulpo, and less than five thousand people lived there.
In 1883, the Port of Incheon became one of three treaty ports under the Ganghwa Treaty (also called the Japan-Korea Treaty of Amity), and it began to develop as an international commercial port. Japan occupied Korea and the Port of Incheon in 1910, and held it until the end of World War II in 1945. During the war, a Japanese POW camp was located at the Port of Incheon. During Japanese occupation, Port of Incheon facilities and industries were developed, and the Japanese constructed tidal basins to surmount the extreme tidal variations.
In 1948, the United States released the Port of Incheon from American military administration, and the Incheon Maritime Affairs Department of the Bureau of Transportation took over management of the Port of Incheon.
In 1950, United Nations forces landed at the Port of Incheon, effectively stopping an invasion by North Korea in the Battle of Incheon. Today, a large statue of General Douglas MacArthur overlooks the port to commemorate that event.
In 1955, the Incheon Regional Maritime Affairs Office was established to manage the Port of Incheon, and in 1961, the Incheon Maritime Affairs Department of the Bureau of Transportation was created.
The Port of Incheon was granted Metropolitan Status in 1981, giving the central government direct control of the city. In 2008, the Incheon Regional Maritime Affairs and Port Office was established under the Ministry of Land, Transport, and Maritime Affairs to operate and manage the Port of Incheon.