Thursday, March 11: My apartment is located in a crowded and bustling commercial area on the west side of Daegu. It sits across a wide highway from Keimyung University. Because it’s next to the university, the area is always bustling with fashionable-looking students wearing black coats or miniscule skirts you can barely see. Within walking distance of my apartment are numerous restaurants, coffee shops, DVD bangs, PC bangs, convenience stores and small neighborhood markets. Like most typical Korean cities, this neighborhood is a cluster of multi-storied buildings with bright primary-colored signs covered in Hangul lettering. Here’s a little tour of my neighborhood, my apartment, and Keimyung University.
Daegu, which means “large hill” in Korean, was formerly spelled Taegu and is the fourth largest city in South Korea after Seoul, Busan, and Incheon. It is the third largest metropolitan area in the nation with over 2.5 million residents. The city is the capital and principal city of the surrounding Gyeongsangbuk-do province, although it’s not legally part of the province. The total population of the province and city combined is over 5 million. The city is in south-eastern Korea about 80 km from the coast (Wikipedia: Daegu).
Keimyung University (KMU or colloquially known as Kei-dae) is a private university in South Korea. The university was founded in 1954 by the leaders of the Northern Presbyterian Church of the U.S. as a Christian university. Its motto is ‘For the Kingdom of Truth, Justice and Love’. KMU is composed of three campuses in Daegu, South Korea. They are named for their locations within the city; Daemyeong, which is near the downtown area, Seongseo, which is in the western part of the city, and Dongsan campus which includes Dongsan Medical Center (Wikipedia: Keimyung University).
The campus that is nearest my apartment is Seongseo. I can’t tell you how many times I had to tell taxi drivers where to take me in my very limited Korean: “Kei-dae Dong Moon,” which means the East Gate of Keimyung University. However, if I said “dong” in the normal way that we in English would say “ding-dong,” the drivers always took me to the Main Gate, which was quite a walk from my house. It took me awhile to figure out that when I said Dong, I had to make my mouth into a circle and have the sound come from deep within me, sort of like the deep-gonging bell you would hear in a Buddhist monastery. When I said it that way, they understood what I meant. Ah, the tribulations of communicating in a foreign language.