DAEGU -- This landlocked city in the country’s southeast stands out for its economic strength and uniqueness in traditional oriental medicine among the region’s industrialized cities such as Busan, Pohang and Ulsan. Daegu is also actively seeking to build its IT start-up ecosystem amid the government’s policy promoting a creative economy.
View of Daegu City from Apsan Park’s observatory platform (Lieto)
But lesser known is that Daegu prides itself for having and serving the region’s most delicious food especially for mid-income earners at its famous and grand Seomun Market.
Filled with over 5,500 shops and eateries in the 93,000-square-meter traditional market, people can find almost any kind of street snacks that are unique to the city.
Under the tour theme of “Daegu is Tasty,” the market offers not only street food such as tteokbokki, a Korean snack made from rice cake with red chili sauce commonly found in Seoul, but also Daegu’s popular vegetable-filled flat dumplings, home-made chopped noodles and braised short ribs mixed with rice.
Seomum Market, Joseon Dynasty’s biggest market, has over 5,500 street food vendors and shops. (Park Hyong-ki/The Korea Herald)
Foreign tourists from Japan mostly seek to taste the noodles, while Korean ribs with rice are popular among tourists from Australia.
This “food snack haven,” which accommodates about 57,000 visitors a day on average, has been the city’s representative market since the 17th century during the Joseon Dynasty.
Daegu’s Seomun Market was the biggest market in the Joseon Dynasty period, followed by the Pyongyang Market in Pyongyang, the current capital of North Korea, and the Ganggyeong Market in Daejeon.
People then commonly sought to buy textiles and fabric materials for their traditional clothes such as hanbok in the Seomun Market, in addition to food.
This market was revitalized with a variety of street food, spurred by a policy by the late-President Park Chung-hee administration promoting flour-based food for low and mid-income families in the 1960-1970s when the country was economically poor, according to the Daegu City.
There are no bars or supermarkets at this partly domed market. There is space for some 650 cars so people can park and walk around to taste the variety of snacks for about two hours, even in the rain.
The market is connected by the city’s monorail, which was launched last April, boosting its accessibility for locals and tourists.
After a hearty meal at the market, people can stroll on a nearby street commemorating late singer and songwriter Kim Kwang-seok, who was born in Daegu.
Kim Kwang-seok Road is decorated with paintings commemorating the late singer and songwriter. (Park Hyong-ki/The Korea Herald)
The walls along Kim Kwang-seok Road are filled with paintings of the singer, who was famous for his songs such as “Too Painful a Love Was Not Love” and “Letter of a Private.” Visitors can not only take pictures with the paintings drawn by regular people and artists, and his statues, but also listen to his music while walking by. The street was created in 2008 for Kim, who was born in Daegu in 1964 and committed suicide when he was 31 years old.
Visitors can also tour the historic streets and alleys of Daegu to learn more about the city’s history.
By Park Hyong-ki (firstname.lastname@example.org