Saturday, January 31, 2009
This week, I visited the city of Daegu. I'm always a little skeptical when I pass a restaurant flashing a name like "Yummy Curry" or "Tasty Teriyaki". So what about "Colorful Daegu"? Since it's the third largest city in Korea behind Seoul and Busan, I thought it deserved a visit.
After spending two days there, I had mixed feelings about my visit. It's much smaller and slower than Seoul. Definitely not a bad change of pace. But it was mildly depressing to see a once-prominent city in a slow and languishing decline. I heard that Daegu was once surrounded by many textile factories during the 70's and 80's, but since the flight of manufacturing jobs to China and Southeast Asia over the last two decades, Daegu has suffered the fate of many manufacturing cities in the US, which have seen jobs leave and few return in their place.
This was a clear reminder that Korea is essentially a one-city country. There's shipbuilding in Ulsan, there's fishing in Busan, there's manufacturing in Incheon. But Seoul has no real cultural, political or economic rival. So most young people find that all road lead to, if not through, Seoul, which means that most of the smaller cities in Korea are in various phases of the long fade.
While I was there, I visited a native of Daegu whom I had met in Seoul. She is a flight attendant by training, but she was a terrible tour guide! Of course, she's nice to look at. But take her off the plane, and she's totally useless!
The KTX train to Daegu
Midnight arrival at East Daegu Station
There were very few tourist attractions in Daegu. We visited a university campus, a bookstore, and the central shopping district.
On my last night, Lia took me to an "amusement park" (the rides included a small merry-go-round and Ferris wheel). I know it was a Thu night, but we were literally the only people there. Here's a picture of the park at night.
Look at that follow-thru!
Seoul Station. Home sweet home.