Wednesday, May 16, 2018

From Philippines to Korea | 10 Reaons Why I Recommend Daegu

 When I first came to South Korea, locals asked me, “Where are you from?” I always answer them with, “I come from the tropical country of the Philippines, where Hallyu wave is in its peak of popularity.” 

When I was in high school, I love to study about Asian History particularly South Korea. My teacher Alexie, inspired me to love the beautiful history of Asia. In particular, I had a great interest of studying about South Korea which lead me to watch the first ever Korean movie: 100 Days with Mr. Arrogant. My curiosity and interest sparked more about how Koreans live, talk, dress. I actually fell in love with Korea, its culture and history.
On the upper pictures, it was when our dean and my thesis adviser placed my graduation cap and handed my diploma. On the lower left are my classmates from different countries and on the lower right is my sister, Cory, and my mother who were the representatives of our family, to give me moral support and cheer me on while I was receiving my degree on stage.

With this interest, I decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Asian Studies and conducted a research study on Korean War and their ideologies. And three years after graduating, I applied for a scholarship in Yeungnam University and I hit to birds with one stone. I got accepted and I was able to step foot in the Land of the Morning Calm.
The picture on the left is when my sister and I pretended to be Do Min Joon and Cheon Song-yi of ‘My Love from the Stars’ in Petite France. While on the upper right, my mom and my sister took a picture with the statues of Winter Sonata’s Kang Jun-sang and Jung Yoo-jin in Nami Island. Third photo is when my mom posed with Korean ladies wearing the traditional dress, Hanbok. The fourth photo is when we were strolling around the Gyeongbokgung, the main Palace during the Joseon dynasty.

Filipinos are one of the greatest fans of Korean popular culture, or hallyu wave. These are just a few of the reasons that Filipinos always include Seoul in their bucket list or go-to places. I have been to the most popular tourist sites in Seoul, but as the inner adventurer in me would prefer to explore more of the hidden gems in South Korea and that is why I came to Daegu!
These are the reasons that I WILL ALWAYS CHOOSE DAEGU.

Have you ever heard of the Korean term, ppali ppali (빨리 빨리)? If not, it literally means to be fast or quick. Mohandas Gandhi once said that: “there is more life than increasing its speed”. As an expat who has a regular nine-to-six job, it can be really stressful at work and the amount of pressure around your environment is high. However, it is always refreshing to see that your life here in Daegu is not in a certain time-lapse that you have to do everything ppali ppali.

Transportation is made easy and convenient for anyone to get around Daegu despite the fact that it is the 3rd largest city in South Korea. They only have 3 lines in their subway system and they have different modes of transportation such as buses and bullet trains that will not only link us to smaller cities but as well as to major cities of Busan, Seoul and Incheon airport directly. And oh, did I mention that Daegu city has its own airport?
Upper left: Daegu Line 3 – Light Rail Transit; Upper right: Dongdaegu Express Bus Terminal; Lower left: Dongdaegu KTX Stop; Lower right: Daegu International Airport

Every city in South Korea has their own festivals but only Daegu has unique festivals that you wouldn't find in any other city in South Korea. Festivals in Daegu are very artistic and culture-centric that really spark the interest of the foreigners to learn more about the city.
Speaking of these festivals, they have Lighting Cherry Blossom Festival in E-World Tower (late March-mid April), Colorful Daegu Festival (May) and Daegu Colorful Merrymaking at the Lantern Festival’s colorful parade (May), and International Music Festival (June – July).
 These are the pictures of me and my boyfriend during the Lighting Cherry Blossoms of Spring time in E-world.
The most awaited festival during summer is Chimek (치맥) Festival. Celebrated every July, Daegu invites everyone to try their own version of Chimaek. Chi () is short term for chicken (치킨) and Maek () is short term for maekju (맥주) which means beer in Korean. There are many more to mention so please keep posted with Colorful Daegu’s website for more related articles.

Foreigners want to live in South Korea but they always think that it’s expensive. While it is true that the cost of living in Korea is high, the cheapest meal in Daegu will only cost you around $5.
HEADS UP: Every Korean restaurant serves a lot of side dishes and unlimited drinking water. Take advantage of it to fill more spaces in your stomach and to save more money. Also, it’s very cheap to buy fruits and vegetables in the street markets than in marts. They are mostly organic and you will help more locals to earn a living.
The transportation starts only at $1 using their subway and buses. Using a T-money card will also give you a discounted price. For example, if you will buy a subway token, it will cost you 1,400 won. If you have the T-money card, you will only be charged 1,250 won.
There are also a LOT of CHEAP clothes sold in the MARKETS and SUBWAYS. You can buy cheaper T-shirt and shorts for $5 and even a jacket for only $7. But make sure to have a CASH on hand as most of the cheap deals don’t accept credit cards for payment. Always take advantage of their SALE PROMOTIONS! Daegu has a lot of sale offers depending on different seasons.
As for the housing, rent is way cheaper compared to other big cities in South Korea. When I was a student, I was only paying $200/monthly for rent of my apartment. While utility bills only cost me around $10 per month and $30 for my gas even though I cook a lot.

Daegu is a smart city that is open for a bright future that will lead the world. They aim to make a world a better place through innovation of heavy industries, electronics and technology. Did you know that Daegu City is actually the hometown of the technology giant, Samsung? Yes, it is! This is also the reason that Samsung Lions got their name.
These photos are the very first office of Samsung which is located in Dalseo-gu. Photos by Emyfer Flores.
I also noticed how Daegu can easily catch up with modernization and continues to improve the city through further research and studies. I also love how Daegu is committed to their goals of economic, safety, decentralization, education and public service innovation.
FUN FACT: Daegu has the fastest internet in the whole Korean peninsula. In a 2014 research conducted by PC Magazine, Daegu based internet and cable-TV provider T-broad, delivers 124.4 Mbps of download. If internet is a major factor in your life, you should definitely consider moving here.
Infograph from

Daegu is known for “self-proclaimed fashion capital of Korea”. As a woman myself, let's face it! We love making ourselves beautiful and confident not for the eyes of the others but because we our entitled to become one. Not only that, as women, WE LOVE TO SHOP! Raise your hands if you are guilty!
Daegu should be considered to your go to places because this city has now become the mecca of Asian textile and fashion industry in the global market! Did you know that you can actually get a hands-on experience in make-up, hairdo session and modelling in Daegu? Yes, YOU CAN! For more information, check out this website:
Dongseongno Street (동성로) or well-knowned as the “downtown” (시내) in Jung-gu, is full of different and affordable stores, outdoor markets, and boutiques. This area is called the central shopping district of Daegu. You can say that Dongseongro is the Myeongdong of Daegu, except that street food are more seen in night markets like Seomun Market. Daegu offers a wide opportunity of Korean fashion industry and shares them to all fashion designers, enthusiasts, and tourists.
FUN FACT: Daegu is actually a “town of beautiful ladies” and there have been a large number of beautiful artists who were born in this town.

When I was still in the Philippines, I started watching Kdrama while taking a break from studies or work. I am happy to discover that Daegu is also a hub of kdrama filiming sites. Boys Over Flowers (꽃보다 남자) was a hit in the Philippines and I was one of the crazy fans of Lee Min Ho at that time. As for me, I'm lucky that our office is located in Keimyung University of Daemyeong-dong campus where the first scene in Boys over flowers was filmed in 2009. All thanks to my amazing friend, Jae Hong Shin for capturing these beautiful photos of my French oppa and I inside the campus.

You can choose to recreate these scenes in Daegu:

a)  2004 - “Lessons to be a Priest” a.k.a. “Love So Divine” in Naksan Church
b)  2006 - “ Who Slept with Her?” in Gyesung High School in Jung-gu

c) 2011 - “The Musical” in Seomun Market, Dongseongro, Chilgok Kyungbuk University Hospital
d) 2012 - “Love Rain” in Keimyung University, Celavie Music Teahouse, Gyesan Cathedral
e) 2015 - “Oh My Venus” in Kim Gwangseok Memorial Street, Ayang Railroad Bridge
f) 2016 – “Train to Busan” in Dongdaegu Station

I'm a nature lover and one thing I enjoy about traveling in another country is to do sightseeing. Daegu is blessed to be surrounded by large mountains such as Palgongsan in the North and Biseulsan in the South.
We hiked Apsan Mountain and reached it’s’ peak. It was very fulfilling to finish the hiking course by ourselves and the view is breathtaking. Best season to go hiking is Spring.
Apsan is one of the famous mountains in Daegu that you can easily hike if you are a beginner. Depending on your capacity and interest, you can either hike, camp or do a templestay with these mountains. Daegu is rich with other natural resources such as different lakes, streams and rivers such as Geumho, Sincheon and Nakdong that flow through the city.
A photo of me and my love at one of the famous lakes in Daegu called Suseong Lake.
You can also enjoy strolling around Duryu and Dalseong Park with your family or try varieties of rides at E-world with your friends and loved ones. If none of these sounds interesting to you, why not try to pay a visit in their botanical gardens in Daegu Arboretum and in Hillcrest.  But wait, there's more! Check out the canola flowerfield in Hajungdo and azaleas in Biseulsan. Daegu is an eco-friendly city where everyone can enjoy the green space and healthy views of mother nature.

There's only one word to describe nightlife in Daegu, and that is - YOUNG! As they say, the night is young and literally, you can see a lot of young people roaming around EVERY NIGHT in Daegu and that is why I can say that this city is safe.
There are so many things that happen in Dongseongno Street. You can watch busking performances, enjoy night shopping and food trip, go to a pub, and sing at a noraebang. From teens to teens-at-heart, you can see everyone enjoying from sundown to midnight.
The typical night life usually starts after work when Koreans and expats get together and eat dinner in a restaurant, drink beer or soju after meal and go to a norebang (노래방) or karaoke.
While for some, they just go directly to different pubs, bars, and night clubs in downtown to have drinks with their friends and dance with the music the WHOLE NIGHT! That's because some of the bars here are open until late and convenience stores are open 24 hours.
You can easily make friends with the locals here because they are easy to approach and they are happy to welcome you in Daegu. The energy, vibe and hype that the night offers in Daegu cannot be found by any other cities in South Korea. So, let's CHEERS (건배) to that!

There are so many ways to express Korean life and most of Daegukins chose to express it creatively through the arts.Daegu’s art culture is a mixture of contemporary and modern arts. As part of Daegu’s effort in promoting its art, different activities, such as clothes making at Textile Museum and Natural Dye Arts Museum, are offered by the government.
There are a lot of art museums in Daegu where you can pay a visit such as Daegu Art Factory, Museum of Natural Dye Arts, Dongje Art Museum, Daegu Art Museum, etc.
There are different art exhibitions inside the Daegu Art Museum. Aside from paintings, there are so much unique and creative craftsmanship that your eyes will surely enjoy.
Daegu is also known for it's music and theater performance. Some famous artists were born in Daegu like the legendary Kim  Gwang-seok, Kpop singers, BTS's Suga and Monsta x's JooHeon. The beautiful ladies of Song Joong-ki, Song Hye-kyo and Taeyang, Min Hyo-rin also hailed from Daegu.
 Trying to sing along with the statue of legendary singer, Kim Gwang-seok.
There is so much to love about Daegu if only you will give it a chance. I highly recommend this city not just to my friends and families but also to everyone else who wants to travel South Korea. I have been living here for three years and I must say that I have had my best memories that gained my best of friends, the love of my life has found me, a job opportunity was given to me, learned how to become independent, achieved my goals of obtaining my master’s degree, and continue fulfilling them.

Nowadays, whenever I am asked where I am from, I tell them, I am from the Philippines, but


  1. Great write-up kabayan! I also visit Daegu every month to visit my Korean wife and our 1 year old baby. You were spot on about the places! One of our favorite too that wasn't on the list is Donghwasa temple.

    1. thanks Dan! Donghwasa temple was a really great place too. It's just too far from my place that's why I wasn't been able to visit there from time to time.

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