Kim Kwang-Seok Street: Daegu’s Artist Alley


KimMoving to a new city is always a whirlwind. My first few months in Korea were the strangest, hardest, liveliest, and some of the most memorable days I’ve spent here so far. There’s something that changes, though, once you get accustomed to your new city. You start to learn the in’s and outs; how the locals move, what nail shop has the most affordable prices, and where to get the best cafe latte.

It took us over half a year to stumble on Kim Kwang-Seok Memorial Art Street, but I’m so glad we did. Clubs and bright lights are fun for a while, but let’s be honest, that life can get old after a while. I’d been doing my best to keep up with the constant energy that seems to flow through Daegu, but I’d exhausted myself pretty quickly. Then, I found this beautiful section of town dubbed Artists Alley.

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Forget the foreign bars. Find Kim Kwang-Seok St. Now. (I’m giving you the key to my happy place, away from all the chaos).

Who Was Kim Kwang-SeokSinger2

Kim Kwang-Seok was a famous singer songwriter born in Daegu, South Korea. He tragically took his own life at the age of 31 in 1996, leaving a legacy that would last for generations to come.

His music was loved so profusely because it was so relatable by many Koreans in the 1990’s. He discussed social issues, the heartache and frustrations of living, as well as the human emotions that plague most of us in our daily lives (especially young adults). He portrayed life in a way that musicians hadn’t before in Korea. Often times he’s compared to Bob Dylan because of his soul.

Preserving his Memory

Kim Singing

After talking to friends in Korea, I can begin to comprehend (although I’m sure I will never understand as they do) how deeply this country feels for Kim Kwang-Seok. I find that loss is felt like a gong that vibrates through the entirety of Korea.

He was, and continues to be after his death, such an iconic figure for hope and democracy that they continue to commemorate him through art and music. All over Kim Kwang-Seok Street you’ll find murals painted by local artists, many of which portray the musician in all his glory. They play his music from one end of the road to the other, and often feature new talent on a well-sized stage near the end.

Why It’s my Favorite Place in Daegu

Kim Kwang-Seok

After those first months of exploring every part of Daegu I could get my hands on, Artists Alley was a breath of fresh air. There’s so much history and beauty on this street, from the little boutiques selling handmade goods to the heart and soul poured into the murals like the Before I Die wall. It’s truly something this city can be proud of, and I love the feeling of walking hand in hand with so many talented people (at least that’s what it feels like as I appreciate their work).

Singer

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We found a little bar in one of the side alleys owned by a man who goes by the name of Whitman (as in, Walt Whitman). He’s just a groovy dude, with so much passion for music. We’ll buy a round of beers and sit just to listen to him play us a tune on his guitar. I feel at peace.

Whitman

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[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]Ho to Get to Artists Alley in Daegu

Take subway line #2 (the green line) to Kyeongbuk Nat’l University Hospital Station. Walk out of Exit 3 and continue walking straight (for about 5 minutes) until you see the entrance to Kim Kwang-Seok St. on your right. You’ll know what it is by the bronze statue of the artist sitting high up on a bench.
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Have you ever moved to a new city? How long did it take you to find your happy place?

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4 Comments

  1. July 26, 2015
    Reply

    Thanks SO MUCH for sharing this post Neysha! I was really wondering what the deal was with Kim Kwang Seok Street and if it was ‘really worth a visit’. You’ve sold me 100% on going (and finding that bar too)! Thanks for sharing a bit of the history and your gorgeous photos!

    I’ll definitely need to find some new things to do in Daegu over the next 18mos and it is great to get recommendations from people I trust–thanks again ^^

  2. July 26, 2015
    Reply

    Ah man, loved this post Neysha! Tons of good vibes and reminders about my own happy place. It changes every now and then but there are a few here in Yeosu that I can tell you about. First there’s Jangdeung Beach down at the bottom of the peninsula and then the top of Gubongsan, which has awesome sunsets and looks at the Yeosu Night View. I could go on forever but don’t want to take away from your happy place.

    The street reminds me of an old art project in Gwangju known as Kunsthalle, and the community there that I’ve come to know and love. So many brave and wonderful artists in Korea that deserve attention, so I guess that’s another reason your post excited me. Thanks for sharing!

  3. July 28, 2015
    Reply

    My friend lives on this street, and I always stay with her when I’m in Daegu. I LOVE the vibe that this street has, and the amazing little coffee shops and tucked away restaurants. Your photos are just AMAZING. I love how vibrant they are..you really capture the true spirit of this road!

  4. July 28, 2015
    Reply

    What a great place to find and share from Daegu! Proxy-homes are important to find in any city you live in as a center and balance- it looks like you’ve found yours and it seems to be a wonderful place. Thank you for sharing the history of this iconic Korean musician, I didn’t know anything about his short and tragic life but I’ve known his music for a while now. Thanks for sharing!

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