Gwangju: Wikis

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Gwangju
광주
光州
—  Metropolitan City  —
Gwangju Metropolitan City
  transcription(s)
 - Hangul 광주광역시
 - Hanja 光州廣域市
 - Revised Romanization Gwangju-gwangyeoksi
 - McCune-Reischauer Kwangju-kwangyŏksi
From top left: Gwangju City Hall, Unnam Bridge, Theme Cinema and Light Fountain, Night skyline of Gwangju, Gwangju University, and Guus Hiddink Stadium

Flag

Emblem of Gwangju
Map of South Korea with Gwangju highlighted
Country  South Korea
Region Honam
Districts 5
Government
 - Mayor Park Gwang-tae
Area
 - Total 501.36 km2 (193.6 sq mi)
Population (2006)
 - Total 1,415,953
 - Density 2,824/km2 (7,314.1/sq mi)
 - Dialect Jeolla
Flower Royal Azalea
Tree Ginkgo
Bird Dove
Website gjcity.net (English)

Gwangju (officially known as Gwangju Metropolitan City; Korean pronunciation: [kwaŋdʑu]) is the sixth largest city in South Korea. It is a designated metropolitan city under the direct control of the central government's Home Minister. The city was also the capital of South Jeolla Province until the provincial office moved to the southern village of Namak in Muan County in 2005.

Gwang (광, hanja 光) means "light" and Ju (주, hanja 州) means "province."

Contents

History

The city was established in 57 BC, and has been a major political and economic centre of Korea ever since. It was one of the administrative centres of Baekje during the Three Kingdoms Period.

Modern industry was established in Gwangju with the construction of a railway to Seoul. Some of the industries that took hold includes cotton textiles, rice mills and breweries. Construction of a designated industrial zone in 1967 encouraged marked growth in industry, especially in the sectors linked to the automobile industry.

In 1929, during the period of Japanese rule, a confrontation between Korean and Japanese students in the city turned into a regional demonstration, which culminated in one of the major nationwide uprisings against Japanese rule during the colonial period.

In May 1980, civil demonstrations took place in Gwangju against the newly installed military government of Chun Doo-hwan resulting in hundreds of civilians being killed by the Korean Military. The demonstrations were suppressed by military forces, including elite units of the Special Operations Command. Most commentators agree that the suppression was characterized by its egregious brutality, including several incidents where military forces fired automatic weapons into crowds of unarmed demonstrators. Gwangju is sometimes called "the shrine of Korean democracy" because of this incident, which is known today as the Gwangju Democratization Movement. After civilian rule was reinstated, a national cemetery was established honoring the victims of the incident.

Administrative divisions

Gwangju is divided into 5 districts ("Gu").

Map Name Hangul Hanja

Gwangju.png

Nam-gu
Seo-gu
Gu (Districts)
Buk-gu 북구 北區
Dong-gu 동구 東區
Gwangsan-gu 광산구 光山區
Nam-gu 남구 南區
Seo-gu 서구 西區

Amenities

Areas of exquisite scenery along the outskirts of the city gave birth to gasa, a form of Korean classical poetry. Located in the heart of the agricultural Jeolla region, the city is also famous for its rich and diverse cuisine.

Transportation

Gwangju has one subway line. An extension to the line was completed in April 2008. There are also two KTX (high speed rail) stations in the city: Gwangju Station and Songjeong-ri Station. Songjeong-ri has been connected to the subway network; however, no connection exists to Gwangju Station.

Gwangju Airport and Muan International Airport serve Gwangju.

Climate

Weather data for Gwangju, South Korea (1971–2000)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 5.1
(41)
7.0
(45)
12.4
(54)
19.3
(67)
23.9
(75)
27.2
(81)
29.7
(85)
30.5
(87)
26.6
(80)
21.5
(71)
14.3
(58)
8.0
(46)
18.8
(66)
Daily mean °C (°F) 0.5
(33)
1.9
(35)
6.5
(44)
12.9
(55)
17.8
(64)
22.0
(72)
25.5
(78)
26.1
(79)
21.4
(71)
15.4
(60)
8.7
(48)
2.8
(37)
13.5
(56)
Average low °C (°F) -3.3
(26)
-2.3
(28)
1.6
(35)
7.3
(45)
12.4
(54)
17.8
(64)
22.4
(72)
22.6
(73)
17.2
(63)
10.3
(51)
4.2
(40)
-1.2
(30)
9.1
(48)
Precipitation mm (inches) 38.0
(1.5)
43.9
(1.73)
64.5
(2.54)
95.3
(3.75)
97.3
(3.83)
190.3
(7.49)
281.9
(11.1)
276.0
(10.87)
137.7
(5.42)
55.3
(2.18)
55.4
(2.18)
32.4
(1.28)
1,367.8
(53.85)
Sunshine hours 162.1 164.9 197.9 216.8 232.1 177.4 163.1 188.2 181.8 205.9 163.7 160.0 2,213.9
% Humidity 70.5 68.9 66.2 65.2 68.4 75.1 80.6 79.0 75.8 71.0 71.6 71.7 72.0
Source: [1] 2009-06-11

Education

Chonnam National University, Chosun University, Honam University and Gwangju University are the major educational institutions in the city, with several other universities and colleges also located in the region.

Sister cities

Independent cities in South Korea

See also

References

External links

Coordinates: 35°10′N 126°55′E / 35.167°N 126.917°E / 35.167; 126.917

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Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Gwangju (광주, 光州), also known as Kwangju, is in South Jeolla, South Korea.

Understand

Gwangju is best known for the Gwangju Massacre of May 1980, in which at least 207 (the number is disputed) students were killed by army forces suppressing a pro-democracy demonstration. What this means is that Gwangju was at the forefront of the democracy movement in South Korea. The people of Gwangju are proud of the uprising here and tend to be at the forefront of any political upheaval in the country.

In Korea, Gwangju is famous for its local cuisine as is the province of Jeolla. The entire area is somewhat of the breadbasket for Korea. On the practical side, food is generally tastier and easier on the wallet throughout this province.

Get in

By plane

Gwangju Airport (IATA: KWJ) has flights to Seoul and Jeju.

Unless on a company budget or pressed for time, most travelers never step foot in the airport since it only offers flights to Seoul Gimpo and Jeju Airport. Most travelers find it easier and cheaper to take a direct bus from Incheon International Airport instead (4 1/2 hours) or even Gimhae Airport (Busan - 3 hours) if need be. There are 1-2 departures hourly to/from Incheon and the cost is 29,600 won. Gimhae airport is a bit more difficult to navigate to and from. Fastest route would be to take a bus to Gimhae, then take a taxi to the Gimhae Airport (김해 공항 - Kim-Hey Gonghang). Reverse that trip of heading to Gwangju.

Eventually, the entire Gwangju airport will be phased out and left with only a Korean air force base with a small detachment of American soldiers. The airport servicing Gwangju will soon be only the Muan-International Airport, roughly one hour west of Gwangju.

By train

Korail and KTX trains run from Seoul multiple times a day and are the quickest option for travellers wanting to go to Gwangju from Seoul. The trip takes 3 hours and the cost is 33,000-39,000 won. Note that all trains depart from Yongsan Station in Seoul, not the main Seoul Station.

By bus

Buses from major cities throughout the country arrive and depart from Gwangju Bus Terminal, a large and recently renovated bus terminal near the geographic center of the city. Every taxi driver in Gwangju knows the bus terminal as 버스 터미널, or "Busuh Teo-mee-nal". Seoul Gangnam to Gwangju prices are either 16,900 or 23,000 for the standard bus or the limousine bus respectively. Prices to other cities are comparable.

Get around

Getting around in Gwangju is really quite easy, though rush hour significantly adds to travel time. There are two basic options: buses and taxis. Taxis are generally cheap but buses are frequent and more or less comfortable. The recently completed subway line stretches from the southeast near downtown to the west southwest, forming an arc with the northern most point being near the bus terminal at Nongseong Station (농성역 - Nongseong Yeok).

By subway

The subway is cheap - 1000 won to any location. The four main stops on the subway (though there are 19 total) are the Culture Center (former Provincial Office), Geumnamno-4 & 5 (pedestrian downtown), and Sangmu (the unofficial commercial center and western-style downtown area). To get to the bus terminal, exit at Nongseong Station (농성역 - Nongseong Yeok) and walk straight north (10 minutes) past E-Mart and Shinsegae. The bus terminal is juxtaposed to those two buildings. To take a train, take the subway to Songjeong-ni station and follow the signs for the train station. The second subway line that will eventually form a circle around the city will break ground towards the end of 2009. Eventually there will be three lines in Gwangju.

By bus

Buses are arranged by colors. Red buses are express buses, running often, making very few stops, and covering large parts of the city. Bus number 1 connects Sangmu area to the train station to Chosun University. Buses 6, 7, and 9 cover the rest of the city making large squares that intersect in important locations. Yellow buses are standard buses that run every 10 - 20 minutes. Green buses are village buses that connect smaller communities and rural areas to transfer points. Purple buses are district circulator buses, generally going to the outskirts of the city. Every neighborhood (동 - dong) to main locations around the city.

By taxi

Taxis are incredibly cheap (by western standards). A taxi ride will cost 2200 won for the first two kilometers then 100 won after that. Basically, on a traffic free night, you can get across the city for around 10,000 won. Black taxis have a higher surcharge than white or silver taxis but due to the fact they charge on distances only, tend to drive more unpredictably.

See

Travelers coming to Gwangju can experience a slower paced experience than Seoul, despite still feeling the bali bali (빨리 빨리 - hurry hurry) lifestyle of Korea. Gwangju also serves well as a good hub for touring the surrounding province of South Jeolla.

  • Geumnamno and Chungmuro Streets These two streets form the pedestrian area of downtown, which is large when compared to other downtown areas with the exception of Seoul and Busan. Any given night these streets will be packed, though the crowds die out around mid-night. From restaurants, to karaoke rooms, to dvd rooms, pool halls, clubs, bars, movie theaters, and shopping can be done here. Several foreign food restaurants have established themselves here too and two foreign grocers (Western products and a Philippine market) are in this area too. Just about neighborhood has a bus that eventually ends here and taxi drivers will understand "Geum-nam-no". The main landmark is the YMCA, which is handy to ask for as well if using a taxi. The subway makes three stops (Geumnamno 4&5 and Culture Center) all within a short distance, covering the two ends and the middle of the downtown district. Don't miss the underground shopping areas, which spans those three subway stops as well.
  • Mudeung Mountain (Mudeungsan), to the south east of the city. It is a common occurrence to see photos of Mudeung in many stores or restaurants; if you see a snowy scene with jagged rocks that look almost like long blocks of stone, or a windswept yellow grass image in the same pose, that's Mudeung. To get to Mount Mudeung, take the subway east to Hakdong and follow the signs. Additionally, cleverly labeled bus 1187 (the height in meters of Mudeung) goes straight there. Catch 1187 from the bus terminal, among other places.
  • 5.18 Memorial Parks Gwangju's claim to fame is for it's own Tienanmen Square uprising, May 18th, 1980. There are two memorials for this moment in its history. The main one is found in the beautiful 5.18 park, in central Sangmu. There is an exhibition hall there that enlightens visitors to the events that lead to the violent democratic uprising. While there, follow the walking path to the top of the hill where you can then climb a three-story pagoda and take in a nice view of the more modern part of Gwangju. The other memorial to this occasion is the 5.18 Cemetery, located in the northeast of the city. Again, more monuments and dedications to this moment in history.
  • Art Street A back street near downtown spanning approximately three blocks. It is full of artists and their works in galleries and nicely decorated store windows. In the evenings, it is lit up especially beautiful and provides a nice quaint walk a stone's throw from the most hectic pedestrian area in town. For artists seeking supplies, many of the stores also carry very affordable materials. From the YMCA, cross the street, pass the KEB, and turn left when you see the white arches and cobblestone road (Keep going straight for a delicious vegetarian restaurant on your right).
  • Yangdong Market Since 2005, the river area has been undergoing a surprising face lift, stretching from Gwangju's most famous food,clothing and furniture market, Yangdong Market (양동 시장 - Yangdong Shijang), all the way out of the city in a southeasterly direction. The river edge is beautifully lit at night, and with its colored lights and shopping areas nearby, is rapidly becoming a symbol of Gwangju - the City of Light and Culture.
  • Chonnam University Back Gate Area Chonnam University is the largest university in Gwangju, home to several thousand students with a sizable foreign student and professor population. A popular hangout nearby is located at its back-gate, though it most certainly is more along the sides. Both the east and the west sides of the university have many cheap restaurants, clubs, bars, etc. To go to the west side, home of the cheaper restaurants, take buses 26, 30, among others. To get to the east side of the university, home to the bars and clubs, take bus 38, among others and get off at the conveniently labeled "Chonnam Back Gate" stop.
  • Cheomdan Area Cheomdan is also home to the GIST(Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology), the area has also many foreign students studying technology and hi-tech subject areas. A huge Lotte Mart is nearby as well.
  • Bienalle and Museum Campus
  • Songjeong dong and Tteok galbi street Take the subway west and get off at Songjeong-ri station. From there, exit south and east and walk down past the row of Chinese markets. Songjeong has a large population of Chinese ex-pats, along with other south-east Asians like Filipinos, Cambodians, Vietnamese, and Indonesians. After passing the Gwangsan-gu district office, turn right. On days ending with a 3 or 8 (03, 08, 13, 18, etc.) there is a large traditional market (송정 시장 - Songjeong shijang) where produce prices are roughly 1/3 of the supermarket prices. Additionally, there is Tteokgalbi street, famous for its tteokgalbi. In case you're wondering what tteokgalbi is, it's minced beef ribs made into patties and served in the typical meat and leaves barbecue that embodies much of Korean cuisine. It's a bit on the pricey side for Korean restaurants, 10,000-15,000 won.
World Cup Stadium
World Cup Stadium

Ice Skating is available at the Pung-Am World Cup Stadium athletics center for approximately 6500 Won.

Watch the KIA Tigers

Watch a soccer game

Hike Mount Mudeung

Eat Ttukgalbi

Visit Chungnamno

Visit 5-18 Park in Sangmu

Go to Bienalle (even numbered years).

Drink

The two most popular foreigner-friendly bars in Gwangju are Soul Train and Mike and Dave's Speakeasy, both located in Chungjangno (충장로). To get to Soul Train, you can either take a taxi to the former Provincial Office (Do Cheong - 도청), or take the subway to Culture Center Station (formerly known as the Provincial Office). Cross the street near the Crown Bakery, and you will see Soul Train a few stores down the street on the left. To get to the Speakeasy visit the website for map and directions. It is centrally located in the pedestrian area downtown.

  • Cheapest The cheapest place to sleep anywhere in Korea is at the local sauna (찜질방 - jimjilbang). This is a kind of bathhouse that has a communal room for sleeping on the floor. It usually costs about 5000-10,000 won. Ask a taxi driver for the closest "jimjilbang" or keep an eye out for a symbol that looks like a bowl with steam coming off it.
  • Motels Motels abound in Korea, and this is no less true in Gwangju. The main concentration of motels are in and around Sangmu area, between the Sangmu and Uncheon subway stops and Cheomdan area, near the Lotte Mart. Motels can range from 30,000-50,000 and tend to be very seedy. One can judge the quality of a "love" motel by the movie selection usually proudly displayed near the cashier and the vending machines located throughout the motel.
  • Splurge There are two quite reputable hotels in Gwangju. One is the Ramanda in Sangmu where a room can generally cost around 100,000 a night. The other, near Mount Mudeung, is the Mudeung Park Hotel. The Sangmu Ramanda is more conveniently located for business where as the Mudeung Park Hotel offers a more peaceful and quiet stay.
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