Thursday, September 1, 2016

Daegu Heritage Night

Jung-gu, a district in central Daegu, recently held Daegu Heritage Night (대구야행) a two-night festival celebrating the modern history of the area and showing off its cultural assets like churches, museums and walking tours. I and a friend went out both nights to check it all out. It often lived up to the “Colorful Daegu” nickname the city has given itself, and we were delighted by what we found.
The festival was basically divided into two areas – one toward the western part of Jung-gu, full of churches and the works of missionaries in the 19th and 20th centuries, and one more in the central part with museums and parks honoring the rest of Daegu’s history and how it has evolved to the city it is today.

So on the first night (Friday) we started at Yangnyeongsi, the traditional medicine market, and headed west toward Gyesan Cathedral, the Medical Missionaries Houses and various other stops along the way. You can see above how some of the buildings were bathed in lights and glowing warmly in the night. It was very charming.
But we were really excited to hear the pipe organ at Gyesan Cathedral. Early in the night we went there and waited patiently for the organ’s bleating, tooting, honking sound, though frankly it gave us the creeps – it sounded like a silent-era vampire movie! But it was great, and everyone in the cathedral sat raptly listening to the organist’s tootlings.
And above are the missionaries’ houses. They can be difficult to visit as the schedule is a bit inconsistent (depending on volunteers being there), but they were open and we could shuffle around inside and see the artifacts arrayed to describe life in Daegu a century or more ago.

We went down the 90 Stairs of the 3.1 Movement, also bathed spectrally in freaky light displays, before getting hungry and wandering off to one of the areas many great restaurants (we had naengmyeon and udon, for the record, unable to decide whether the evening’s late-summer rainstorm left us chilly or muggy).
The second night (Saturday) was a little rainy, but everything was looking great anyway. Nevertheless, we hustled around a bit and cut our itinerary short. It didn’t stop us from seeing some fun new things.

A few local dancers were putting on a performance at Gyeongsang-gamyeong Park near Jungangno Station (which is a nice park, and you should give it a look-see). They whirled and twirled along to some traditional Korean music and looked quite colorful against the nighttime backdrop, as you can see in the photos below.
And in the photos above you can see the Daegu Police History Experience Hall. We passed by the Daegu Modern History Museum, which is my favorite museum in all of Korea, to have a look at this restored local jail. I was eager to show my friend how it is a “panopticon”, a circular structure with a guard in the center and the jail cells ringed around it. It’s pretty cool. We took dizzying look around and headed back out.
We walked a few minutes over to Bukseongno to see the 264 Literary House, a tribute to local poet Yi Yuk-sa. After a few thoughtful minutes we stepped back out and walked over to the Chinese Residents Association’s hall, took a few steps inside and back out again. You can see the colorful mural depicting historic Chinese residents of Daegu below:
And that was it. A nice, short weekend festival to show off Daegu’s historic assets and encourage people to go out and explore Jung-gu a little more. It was actually incredibly well-done, full of people bustling from one place to another, and I really hope they can keep this level of style and pizzazz for future historic festivals. Job well done, Jung-gu!

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