Old memories at Hyangchon Cultural Center

published by Devon Furbush

Just calling this place a museum undermines its significance and existence in Korean history. The name Hyangchon comes from the village of the same name that was built nearby after Daegu eup-seong castle was demolished in 1906. In 1912 this very building opened up as Sunnam Bank, the first financial institution in Daegu. Being in the center of the city, Hyangchon-dong village grew into a booming district of commerce, culture, and art after Daegu Station was established in 1905.

Things only got better when Jungang-ro (the central downtown shopping complex) was completed in 1917. So, it comes as no surprise that this is more of a cultural center than a museum. You can learn how Daegu developed its culture, industries, and everything else in between. Let’s take a look inside. 

During the 1960s Jungang-ro (the main gateway to Daegu) brought considerable change to Hyangchon-dong. The US Information Service Post in Daegu was built along with tea houses, book stores, tailor shops, and jewelry shops.

This is the old vault of the Sunnam Bank that was built here in 1912. As Daegu's first financial institution, it played a vital role in business transactions. During the Japanese colonization, Sunnam Bank merged with a pro-Japanese colonial policy bank called Joseon Commercial Bank in 1941. Over the next several decades the bank was reconstructed and renamed again before ultimately closing down as it merged as a Daegu Branch of Woori Bank. In 2009 the building reopened as an exhibition of the old Hyangchon-dong town, and in 2014 it opened publicly as the Hyangchon Cultural Center.

As you head upstairs, you'll see how refugees during the Korean War lived. Painters, writers, singers, actors, and actresses all flocked here to wander through the buildings and alleys trying to escape the torments of war. In a way, Hyangchon-dong was a small safe harbor. Tea houses were a common meeting place for the townspeople to hold gatherings and discuss the world of arts. These tea houses often came equipped with a grand piano.

The 3rd and 4th floors are home to the Daegu Literature House and a small library. You'll learn more about iconic poets and other works of literature here.

In the basement, there is Nokyang Music Hall which is hailed as one of the oldest music halls on the Korean peninsula. It was originally opened by Lee Chang-soo in 1946 who started it off in his own house. As the Korean War went on, this music hall served as a cradle for musicians and poets.

Address:  449, Jungang-daero, Jung-gu, Daegu


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