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[Jan/Culture] Daegu Déjà Vu: Daegu Then and Now

2013-01-17 00:00:00






“I have an affection for a great city. I feel safe in the neighborhood of man and enjoy the sweet security of the streets.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

We know a great city by the lightness it induces in our step, by the excitement reflecting off its wet pavement, by the intriguing smells wafting on the wings of its late night air. Daegu has that great city feel one gets when you reach the top of the subway exit and the rest of the evening beckons you with its carefree spirit.

Great cities have great pedigrees. Daegu was the provincial capital during the Joseon Dynasty. More recently, it was the site for the founding of two of the world’s leading companies, Samsung and Kolon Industries.


Name: Daegu, formerly Taegu, means “large hill”

Size: Korea’s 4th largest city; 2.5 million pop. 

Nick Names: Textile City, Apple City

Commercial Focus: fashion, education, high tech industries, manufacturing, agriculture

Administrative Divisions: Daegu is divided into 7 districts (Gu’s)

Sister Cities: Daegu has 9 “Sister Cities” and 6 “Partner Cities”


Downtown Daegu (1974), note the absence of private cars

Just a few decades ago Daegu was the fascinating intersection of a rural past and a heart palpitating future–what we know as the Daegu of today. Private cars were a rarity and deliveries were made by men pushing homemade carts. Apartments were largely schematics on the drawing board. The city went to sleep at about 10 PM–thanks to a national curfew. Rice was not available in restaurants two days a week due to rationing.


Colorful Movie Marquee at a Daegu Cinema (1974)

Daegu, with its world-class subway system, glistening sky-scrappers, leading universities and colleges, and high-tech manufacturing base, would present a mind-blowing landscape for anyone returning to its environs after an absence of only several decades.


Ice-skating on Su-Seong Lake, Daegu circa 1973

Today’s Daegu is seen as a leader from sports to commerce. The city of Daegu has been selected to host international athletic competitions, such as the 2011 World Championships in Athletics and the FIFA World Soccer Cup, thanks to its world-class sports venues and accommodations. Industry too is drawn to Daegu due to its knowledge-based service sector and its supportive climate for manufacturing industries.

As noted by Longfellow, it’s easy to have affection for a great city–and Daegu IS a great city by almost any standard.


Downtown Daegu today