Old Daegu Gyonam YMCA Center

published by Devon Furbush

Walking around Jung-gu you’ll always manage to run into a building or a structure related to the 3.1 Independence Movement. During that time there were some American missionaries that helped introduce western education and medicine to the city. 

In 1914, missionary Henry M. Bruen proposed to establish the Gyonam YMCA, which would be built under his supervision. At the time, Bruen had been doing missionary work for about 40 years, so it seemed like a good idea to have him the official director. In the official plan of the foundation, it is stated that this organization is an appropriate vessel to testify specifically and profoundly the presence of Christianity and to provide opportunities for organizing the needs of young evangelists. These young pupils would eventually come to the forefronts as leaders for an independence uprising. 

During the 3.1 Independence Movement, this was the meeting place for protesters against Japanese oppression. Patriotic meetings organized by local Christians included the Christian Rural Reconstruction Movement, the Stem Association Movement, and the Korean Product Promotion Movement. Though Henry Bruen was the founder, the first appointed president was Lee Man-jip. His name, along with several others, rang bells across the city when they led the independence movement on March 1st, 1919. This course of action landed Man-jip 3 years in prison for delivering an anti-Japanese speech. He chanted “This is a good time for our country’s independence. Let’s shout to our deaths ‘Long live Korean Independence, Long live Korean Independence!’” after another man, Kim Tae-ryun, was being dragged off by Japanese forces while reading the Declaration of Independence in front of hundreds of people.  

After that day, the Gyonam YMCA vowed to spread awareness in the community through volunteer work, vocational training, and enlightenment campaigns. Today it stands as a museum across from the Yangyeongsi Museum. Its deep history and loyalty to patriotism make it one of the most iconic sites in the country.

Address: Namseong-ro 177-3, Jung-gu, Daegu

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