Who is Kim Gwang-seok?

published by Devon Furbush

If you mention Kim Gwang-seok’s name to anyone in Daegu, guarantee they’ll know exactly who you’re referring to. His smiling face is arguably the most recognized sight when it comes to Daegu tourism. But who is he and what exactly does he have here that has drawn in thousands of visitors a year?

Kim Gwang-seok was born in 1964 in Daegu and lived in a house near this mural street until the age of 5. After a lifetime of learning to play various instruments in elementary school, singing part-time at a café in his college years, and joining the singing association at Seoul National University he went on to pursue a career in music. As a nationwide-known folk singer/songwriter, he was extremely influential and famous for portraying individuals’ sorrow and frustration at a time when society was struggling in its early stage of democracy following rapid industrialization. In other words, his music mainly expressed the voice of his people’s social issues. What they couldn’t say themselves, Kim Gwang-seok expressed through his music with tranquility and confidence.

Over his career, he released 2 albums with the group Dongmulwon and 4 solo albums from the year 1988 to 1994 before tragically passing away in 1996. Speculations around his death have been the center of controversy since then. While reports claim he took his own life, others believe he was a victim of foul play. To add to the blow, the death of his teenage daughter in 2007, who had been living in the USA, was also surrounded by numerous suspicious claims. A few years ago, the case of the late singer’s death was reopened after his ex-wife was called into question.

Among all of the dark clouds surrounding post-death Kim Gwang-seok I’m here to shed the light on this special place in Daegu. To celebrate his life and his music, this small mural road was built in 2010 where you can listen to his music all during the day, enjoy colorful murals, chill out in one of the many unique cafes, step inside an indoor art gallery, and listen to street busking. Not only is Kim Gwang-seok Memorial Street one of the 100 must-go places recommended by the Korea Tourism Organization, his song titled ‘Although I Love You’ was re-made into Swedish by singer Andreas Sandlund. Also, Daegu has been registered in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network for spreading culture through music.

With this alley also being the location of a radio broadcasting studio, Daegu Radio MBC FM 95.3MHZ operates every Saturday from 12 pm to 2 pm and they play requested songs from those who call in.  

Address: Daebong-dong Bangcheon Market, Jung-gu

Yeongnam jeilgwan Gate and Daegu eup-seong Fortress
Daegyeon-sa Temple at Biseul Mountain

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