Past the infinite number of wedding shops and go through the new and old neighbouring streets, you will begin to faintly hear music coming from an alley that seems to be tucked away. 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 long avenue. It 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. When you walk and observe each artwork, you will hear his legendary music through speakers that are fixed along the endless wall, creating a well fitted aesthetic ambience. This road was made to honor him. On the road you will take pictures with beautiful murals about him and his music, and enjoy little exhibitions at the gallery nearby.
At the beginning of the alleyway, you can see a big bronze statue of Kim Kwang-seok himself playing a guitar against a black backboard with his name strategically written on the top. When you take a look at the right side, you can see the love of his fans poured out onto the walls. Every other painting has Kim Kwang-seok in it. One painting shows how he performs a song on the guitar and the lyrics are painted next to him while another art shows how he walks away from a staircase. There is a picture, Kim Kwang-seok serving you some dishes. You can 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 which is painted in blue with flowers, cartoon strips and so forth. The atmosphere of the place is both calm and peaceful. You can see the elderly sitting on the benches along the paintings quietly chatting amongst themselves and running children with their parents on an early evening stroll.
The Road of Kim Kwang-seok has also 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 almost a 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. You can learn how to play ukulele, purchase coffee and herb tea at Eucalyptus. Each shop is small but all of them are full of its own unique ambiance while being used as 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 a truly hidden gem in the middle of Daegu. There 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 are beneficial if you need a quiet place 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 looking around, drifting over the river of life like floating weed, I may perish at an 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 personal concerts rather than appearing on TV shows. Unfortunately, in 1996, Kim Kwang-seok committed suicide by hanging himself which rang tragic throughout the country.
Daebong-dong, Jung-gu, Daegu