Friday, July 7, 2017

Daegu Tour Stamp Trail Highlights: Jung-gu.

Daegu Citizen Press 2017

Daegu Tour Stamp Trail Highlights: Jung-gu

“Jung-gu” literally means the “central district”, and in Daegu that’s more than just a geographic reality – Jung-gu really is the hub the rest of the city spins around. From Dongseongno to Seomun Market, Jung-gu is Daegu’s go-to spot for shopping, and most of the city’s major department stores are there too. The subway lines and monorail pass through Jung-gu, and Daegu Station, one of Daegu’s two major train stations, is right in the middle of the district as well.

And it’s been that way for centuries. The ancient Daegu Fortress was located within the modern boundaries of Jung-gu. (Dongseongno, actually, was the eastern boundary of the fortress.)

I’m going to share a short list of some attractions in Jung-gu that appear on 2017’s Daegu Tour Stamp Trail. They’re all quite easily within walking distance of Jung-gu’s many subway stations and bus stops, and they’re a great diversion from the usual neon-infused streets through downtown. They key to understanding Daegu lies in understanding Jung-gu.

And don’t forget your stamp book! (Pick one up at the tourist booth next to Daebec or 7 other places if you need one.)

Daegu Modern History Museum

Located next to Gyeongsang-gamyeong Park, a few minutes from Jungangno Station, Daegu Modern History Museum takes a look at Daegu from the early 20th century till today. The building itself is an old Japanese colonial bank, one of the oldest surviving buildings downtown. Exhibits cover the independence movement, the Korean War, modernization and democratization – exciting times indeed.

Gukchaebosang Memorial Hall and Park

The Gukchaebosang Movement (AKA the National Debt Repayment Movement) in 1907-1908 was an early example of modern nationalism among the Korean people, a step toward the Korean identity we know today. There’s a large, beautiful park downtown to commemorate the movement, and in the park’s northwest corner an interesting museum dedicated to it as well.

The Old Residences of Lee Sanghwa and Seo Sangdon

Two houses near one another, both sharing the memory of early 20th century Korean activists. Lee Sang-hwa was a noted poet and supporter of the independence movement during the colonial period, while Seo Sang-don helped found the National Debt Repayment Movement (mentioned above). Their houses are presented in their hanok traditional style, though they have been adapted to serve as small museums as well.

KimGwangSeok Street

Gwang Seok Kim was a popular singer-songwriter in the ‘80s and ‘90s, releasing many well-received albums. He took his own life in 1996, but his music lives on along the narrow alleys of Bangcheon Market. Art illustrates Kim’s lyrics and the songs themselves are often piped from cafes lining the alleys. Worth visiting, for sure, but prepared to walk! 

Daegu Yangnyeongsi Museum of Oriental Medicine

Daegu’s Yangnyeongsi was once a massive market of herbs and plant goods from across the Yeungnam region (the broad valley area Daegu sits in). In fact, Daegu was a major crossroads for all kinds of stuff – merchandise, culture, politics and more. Stop by this museum to see how residents in centuries past viewed medicine, treatment and several other aspects of well-being and learn how it is often the opposite of Western medicine in reaching the same conclusions. Fascinating, really. And odd!

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