Daegu is one of the major metropolitan cities of Korea; in addition to a thriving population and a myriad of modern conveniences, the city boasts mountains, temples, and an abundance of natural and historical sites. Though the city has many draws, it is primarily known for its textile and fashion industry and as a city of Oriental medicine and medical tourism.
One of the prime spots to experience Daegu’s rich medicinal culture is the Yangnyeongsi Market. Established in 1658, the market spans a 700-meter stretch along Namseong-ro Road in the Jung-gu district. Also known as ‘Yakjeon Golmok’ (‘alley of medicine stores’), the street is home to Oriental medical clinics, medicinal restaurants, and shops selling herbal remedies. Each year, the lively street becomes even more colorful with the opening of the Daegu Yangnyeongsi Herbal Medicine Festival.
The Daegu Yangnyeongsi Herbal Medicine Festival gets its roots from the original grand opening event that took place when the Yangnyeong Market first opened in the 17th century. The event was organized by local merchants who worked hard to create a festive mood to welcome visitors. It was a huge success and drew people from all over the nation to the market to buy and sell medicinal ingredients. The Yangnyeongsi Market opening officially turned into a modern-day festival in 1978 and has been held annually ever since.
In Korea, herbal medicine is not only used to cure illness, but is also used as a preventive measure, often in the form of tea. Herbal medicine can be made from anything that comes from nature such as medicinal plants, the roots of plants, their fruits, and bark. At the festival, visitors can learn the proper way to slice herbal medicine, sample teas or drinks made from various herbs, and get a view a display of yakseon, food made with herbal ingredients.
Photo: Slicing contest using ingredients of Oriental medicine (Credit: Yangnyeongsi Preservation Committee)
Slicing of medicinal herbs is a free program in which you’ll be able to learn how to cut medicinal herbs in the traditional way. Though it may look simple, cutting medicinal herbs takes strength and know-how!
Photo: Children enjoying the experience (Credit: Yangnyeongsi Perservation Committee)
The free ‘Packaging of Medicinal Herbs’ program is an event in which you will learn how to make traditional herb packs using dried mandarin peel and white paper. The package can be taken home as a free souvenir and brewed to make tea.
Photo: Foot bath experience (Credit: Yangnyeongsi Perservation Committee)
Feeling tired after walking all day around the festival grounds? Then stop by the ‘Hanbang Foot Bath Experience’ in front of the Daegu Yangnyeongsi Oriental Medicine Culture Center to soak your feet in a foot bath infused with medicinal herbs. The foot bath is free of charge, but is a popular event so you may need to wait in line.
Photo: Visitors walking through the Mystical Herb Tunnel (Credit: Yangnyeongsi Perservation Committee)
The Mystical Herbs Tunnel by the entrance of the festival grounds is a small tunnel leading into the venue that greets visitors with the aroma of medicinal herbs. Inside the tunnel hang photos of the Daegyu Yangnyeongsi Market and artfully placed herbal medicine pouches.
As you walk around the festival grounds, you’ll find gardens of medicinal plants (‘medicinal plant parks’) interspersed throughout the whole area. The gardens/parks are planted with about 70 types of local medicinal plants like ginseng, milk vetch root, and peony.
The Daegu Yangnyeongsi Market has been a popular herbal medicine market ever since it first opened in the 17th century. In its prime, the market drew crowds of people from as far as Japan and China. Discover the fascinating history of the Yangnyeongsi Market, the origin of Yakjeon Street, and fun facts about medicinal herbs with a visit to the Daegu Yangnyeongsi Oriental Medicine Cultural Center. The center even has a section where visitors can get health check-ups.
Located five minutes away on foot from Yangnyeongsi Market, Gyesan Catholic Church was built in 1899 before being remodeled into its present form in 1902. The first Western-style structure to be built in Daegu and the city’s first major Catholic presence, the church is also highly valued as the only building in the city to have been built in the early 20th century.
In front of Gyesan Cathedral stands the old residence of Lee Sang-hwa (1901-1943), a poet who expressed resistance against Japan’s imperialism through his poetry. In the same area is the old residence of Seo Sang-don (1851-1913), a nationalist who took a leading role in the National Debt Repayment Movement to decrease national debt and gain independence from Japan.
Information and photos courtesy of Yangnyeongsi Preservation Committee
* This column was last updated in April 2016, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check from the official websites before visiting.
<Last updated on April 25, 2016>