If you’re well-acquainted with Korean culture, chances are you’ve heard the name Kim Gwangseok in one context or another. At the very least, you’re familiar with Kim Gwangseok Street, one of the trendiest tourist spots in all of Daegu.
Kim Gwangseok Street is named after a famous Korean singer. Kim Gwangseok, born in 1964, was a highly influential figure in his day.
If you enjoy Korean music and art, Kim Gwangseok Street should undoubtedly be on your itinerary. However, when you’re there, you have to consider a few things. Otherwise, you might not enjoy the experience as much.
Luckily for you, this is the complete guide to exploring Kim Gwangseok Street.
Here’s what you should do:
Learn About Kim Gwangseok Street History
Firstly, you can’t enjoy Kim Gwangseok Street without knowing its history and cultural context. As mentioned, Kim Gwangseok was a folk-rock singer in the 80s and 90s. He died in 1996, allegedly by committing suicide.
However, even posthumously, Kim Gwangseok has influenced lots of modern-day artists and song-writers with his lyrics. He has a fan-base even today, with millions paying tribute to him every year.
His songs largely depicted social issues. They focused on individual pain and sorrow following rapid industrialization and social change.
Kim Gwangseok Street is where he used to live before his death. To honor him, the city council renamed the street a few years after his death.
Take the Subway Route Instead of a Taxi
Now, you know the context, so you can appreciate the area more. However, if you’re commuting, it’s always better to take the subway route than a taxi.
The street is located near Bangcheon Market, which is always busy with locals and tourists. To get there, you have to take a shuttle to Kyungbuk National University Station. From there, it’s only a 12-minute walk to the market and street area.
Since the street can get crowded, taxis are slow to leave and arrive. Moreover, you’ll have to pay more for a taxi than a subway ticket.
If you can’t find the nearest subway stations, simply follow the boards (as pictured above). In addition to brochures and artwork, these boards also have maps and signage.
Pay Attention to the Murals and Lyrics
Once you’re on Kim Gwangseok Street, you get to see a 350-meter-long wall, depicting murals of Kim Gwangseok. Each mural commemorates him in one way or another.
For example, the flowers, here, symbolize the lyrics of his song, ‘Flower’ (1991):
However, most murals explicitly depict his lyrics and likeness:
Here’s another example of a mural. It shows people waiting aimlessly while being showered in his lyrics from ‘Please Wait For Me’ (1993):
All in all, you won’t realize the quirkiness or true meaning of these murals unless you pay attention. Therefore, take your time and admire the art.
Check Out the Food and Cafes Before Rush Hours
Kim Gwangseok Street has become more cosmopolitan throughout the years. Initially, it only had a few Korean kimbap diners. Today, it has a wide range of restaurants, food stands, and cafes.
You can find all sorts of Japanese, Vietnamese, American, Chinese, and Korean cuisines. Salmon Deop-Bab is a popular Japanese restaurant. Similarly, there are pho, han-jeong sik, and ma la tang (Vietnamese, Korean, and Chinese noodle dishes) places.
As the Kim Gwangseok food street is rising in popularity, the best food places are always filled to the brim. Consequently, it’s better to avoid rush hours.
If you want to sample everything on the food street, try going before noon or after four. It’s an odd time to eat, but you’ll avoid crowds.
Visit the Stores and Radio Station
Apart from restaurants, Kim Gwangseok Street also has some decent book and music stores (pictured above).
If you’re looking for a place to sit and relax, these stores allow you to do that:
Simply curl up on the benches with a good book or some music. Alternatively, you can enjoy the afternoon breeze while you listen to the radio station.
Daegu Radio MBC is a local radio program, which runs every Saturday from 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM. The show often plays songs by Kim Gwangseok, catering to the audience on the street.
Explore the Romantic Side of Kim Gwangseok Street
Lastly, if you have a significant other, you’ll love exploring the romantic side of Kim Gwangseok Street. The street is also a popular date spot. The murals (like the one above) create a romantic ambiance.
Also, couples come from all around to the ‘Heart Locker’:
Similar to traditions in France and Italy, couples ‘lock’ their love for each on this locker, and throw away the key. It’s a symbol of commitment.
Lastly, couples also come here to post love letters, inspired by Kim’s romantic lyrics. This is regarded as a symbol of devotion:
To conclude, this artsy street is a very interesting spot. Not only does it have rich historical significance, but it also has a lot of value in Korea’s contemporary pop culture. Many view Kim Gwangseok as a cultural icon, idolizing him even today.
Now, if you’re done with Kim Gwangseok Street, why not see what else Seoul has to offer? Don’t forget to check out this travel guide to Gwanaksan, Seoul’s best mountain range.