Past the infinite wedding shops and through the neighborly streets of the old and new, you will begin to faintly hear music coming from a seemingly tucked away alley. Follow the music, and you will come across the Road of Kim Kwang-seok, or 김광석길. Not located far from bustling downtown and next to the Bangcheon Marketplace, Kim Kwang-seok Road is a lengthy alleyway that displays several murals, paintings, and other small art works upon its walls, dedicated to the late folk song singer, Kim Kwang-seok. Born in Daegu, Kim Kwang-seok was a famous and popular Korean folk singer in the 1980s and 1990s. As you walk and observe each art work, his legendary music is streamed through speakers that are fixed along the continuous wall, creating a well fitted aesthetic ambience. This road was made to honor him. On the road, you will hear his music, take pictures with beautiful murals about him and his music, and enjoy little exhibitions at the gallery nearby.
At the start of the alleyway, you see a big bronze statue of Kim Kwang-seok himself playing a guitar against a black backboard with his name strategically written on top. When you pass through to the right, you can see the love of his fans poured out onto the walls. Every other painting has Kim Kwang-seok in it. One is of him performing a song on the guitar as the lyrics are painted next to him. Another is of him walking away from a staircase. There is even Kim Kwang-seok serving you fish cake at a small street eatery. You will see other miscellaneous art works such as small blue dinosaur statues, a pink window seal with a mirror in the middle to glance at yourself, a bench made of concrete that’s painted blue with flowers, cartoon strips, and so forth. The atmosphere of the place is also calm and peaceful. You can see the elderly sitting on the benches along the paintings and softly chatting amongst themselves and children running past with their parents as they take an early evening stroll.
The Road of Kim Kwang-seok has also help pepped Bangcheon Market up since 2009. Even though it was one of the three biggest markets along with Seomun Market and Chilsung Market in Daegu, the big markets and department stores around its area made it a near ghost town. In an effort to revive the market, Jung-gu Office carried out a project that included Daegu’s local artists and merchants of the market. Artists moved into empty stores in the market and changed them into a small galleries or their studios. The place became a hip artistic area overnight. Since then, the atmosphere of the market has changed. Different kinds of unique places showed up. For example, the Macaron House is a macaron shop run by a painter that also moonlights as a party room. You can learn how to play ukulele and purchase coffee and herb tea at Eucalyptus. Each shop is not big, but all of them are full of its owner’s own unique ambience and used like a cultural space. In addition, you can enjoy busker’s performance and buy some handmade accessories at a flea market on weekends.
The Road of Kim Kwang-seok and Bangcheon Market is truly hidden gems in the middle of Daegu. They are places where you will feel stimulated and moved as you get to see a glimpse of Korea’s musical history. The street has its own soothing effects on your mind, which is beneficial if you need somewhere quiet to sit and let the music take you away: “Standing in the midst of darkness of night, I can’t see even an inch ahead, where I am going, where I am standing, uselessly looked around, drifting over the river of life like floating weed, I may perish away at unknown river bank, stand up, stand up, give it a try, stand up, stand up, like the sprouts in Spring…” (Stand Up by Kim Kwang-Seok)
* Kim Kwang-seok (January 22, 1964 - January 6, 1996) was a popular South Korean folk rock singer who became quickly popular in his solo career in the late 80’s and early 90’s. He was mostly loved by the younger generations at the time for his soulful vocals and contemplative lyrics that deeply reflected the transition of social, political, and economic issues within the country. Kim Kwang-seok reached monumental success by 1994, and mostly gained a wide audience by holding personable concerts rather than appearing on TV shows. Unfortunately, in 1996, Kim Kwang-seok committed suicide by hanging that rang tragic throughout the country.
Daebong-dong, Jung-gu, Daegu