Moving 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.
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-Seok
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
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
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).
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.
[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.