Korean City Guides: Gwangju
Gwangju (Kwangju) 광주
- Gwangju's population - 1.2 million.
- a modern urban sprawl famous for its pro-democracy riots in 1980.
- the city has a reputation as an artistic center (cuisine, music, handicrafts, calligraphy & new media).
- hosts a biannual arts festival.
- annual kimchi festival in October.
Gwangju is the administrative capital of Jeollanam province in the south west of the country. The center of this sprawling metropolis for visitors is Geunnamno near the May 18th Democratic Plaza. The tourist information center (Tel: 062 226 1050) is here along with the International Center, Art Street and a number of hotels. Art Street has a collection of art shops and studios selling both traditional and contemporary art. Nearby Shopping Street offers some excellent boutiques and designer stores.
Gwangju's museums are clustered on the northern edge of the city and include the National Museum (Tel: 062 570 7000), Gwangju Art Museum (Tel: 062 222 3574) and the Gwangju Folk Museum. Buses #29, #48, #63, #84, #85, #95 run out to the National Museum.
The riverside Yangdong Market has had a facelight in recent years and the river here is pleasantly lit at night.
The 1980 Massacre memorial and May 18th National Cemetery is located north of the city center and the Exhibitional Hall documents the events of the student uprising and massacre with a series of gruesome photographs. The other 5-18 Memorial Park is in the Sangmu area to the west. From the three-stoey pagoda here there are fine views over the city.
In the Mt. Mudeung area is the Uijae Museum of Korean Art dedicated to life and work of poet and calligrapher Ho Baeknyon (1991-1977). Bus #1187, the height of Mt. Mudeung in meters, runs out to the mountain.
Mokpo, an hour by bus from Gwangju, is the venue for South Korea's Formula One races. Many visitors to the race stay in Gwangju and there are a number of good hotels to choose from including the Holiday Inn Gwangju, the Ramada Plaza Gwangju, and the Hiddink Tourist Hotel, named after South Korea's Dutch coach at the 2002 World Cup.
Formula One circuit in nearby Mokpo
Nightlife & Eating Out in Gwangju
Chung Jang Ro street for wining and dining in Gwangju.
Gwangju's new 20km, 20-station metro system runs east-west from Pyeongdong to Nokdong but does not connect with the train station or the city's main bus station. Gwangju's airport is 11km west of the city on the subway line and has flights to Seoul and Jeju. By train, Gwangju connects to Seoul via Yongsan Station by KTX express (3 hours). Bus #17 connects the bus and train stations in around 20 minutes.
Tel: (062) 224 4652 more Gwangju stadium info
The 42,880 seat Gwangju World Cup Stadium has two gigantic shell-like curving roofs. 7 km by shuttle from the city center (Transport delays possible due to subway construction).