Daegu City, located on a fertile stretch of land next to Geumhogang River and Sincheon Stream, is a city that was established long ago under ideal natural living conditions and has maintained its unique local culture ever since.Comb-patterned pottery
Archeological relics from the Old Stone Age and New Stone Age have been unearthed in Wolseong-dong and Seobyeon-dong in Daegu, confirming that human beings have lived in the area since approximately 20,000 years ago, ever since the Old Stone Age.
In Daegu, many artifacts from the Bronze Age, including dolmen, mandolin-shaped bronze daggers, and plain-patterned earthenware have been discovered, suggesting that Daegu was an important region and hub of transportation during that period. In particular, prior to Korea’s liberation from under Japanese colonial rule, many dolmens and tombs from the Bronze Age had been found scattered near Daegu Station and Dalseong Park and in the northeast of the city in Bongsan-dong, Daebong-dong, and Suseong-dong. Many of these dolmens have since disappeared due to the expansion of the city, but the remaining dolmens are important relics that tell scholars much about the politics and the leading social groups of the past.Sangdong Dolmen
Proto Three Kingdoms Period and Three Kingdoms Period
Gilt Bronze Crown excavated from Tomb No. 37 in Dalseong, Daegu The Bronze Age of Daegu was influenced by the culture of the Early Iron Age, and representative bronzeware—slender bronze daggers (National Treasure No. 137) found in Bisan-dong and bronze mirrors and spears found in Manchon-dong and Pyeongni-dong—illustrate the social changes that happened in Daegu during this period. The excavated bronzeware was originally used for ceremonies and decorative purposes, and the ironware was originally used as general purpose and agricultural tools.Comb-patterned pottery (Seobyeon-dong)
Around the 1st century B.C., a tribal nation called Dalgubeol lived in the area which is now known as Dalseongtoseong Earthen Fortification. In the Samguk sagi (History of the Three Kingdoms), an important historical text, it is noted that the Dalbeolseong Fortress was built in the 15th year of King Cheomhae of the Silla Kingdom (261 AD) and was later developed into a large district.
By the 4th century A.D., the Three Kingdoms of Korea were firmly established, and 87 tombs were later identified from the Three Kingdoms Period in Daegu’s Bisan-dong and Naedang-dong neighborhoods. These tombs, which existed up until the Japanese colonization period, were destroyed during the construction of residential houses in the area and are no longer in existence. The tombs were home to splendid treasures such as gilt bronze crowns and gold earrings that were similar in style to those of Gyeongju, indicating that the tombs were the final resting places of the leaders of Daegu society. Ancient tombs were also found in Bullo-dong, Guam-dong, and Seongsan-ri, suggesting that there were multiple political entities in the Daegu region prior to the kingdoms unifying under the Silla Kingdom.
Unified Silla Period
In the 9th year of King Sinmun (689 AD) after the unification of the three states by the Silla Kingdom, there was an attempt to move the capital of Silla from Gyeongju to Dalgubeol, further supporting the theory that Daegu was a geographically important area even at that time. Among the five major mountains of Silla, Palgongsan Mountain in Daegu was worshiped as the region’s jungak (central mountain), again highlighting the historical and geographical importance of Daegu as a whole.
Under the gun and hyeon system, the administrative division system of Silla, Daegu was divided into Wihwa-gun and Dalguhwa-hyeon. In the 16th year of King Gyeongdeok (757 AD), Wihwa-gun was renamed Suseong-gun and Under the gun and hyeon system, the administrative division system of Silla, Daegu was divided into Wihwa-gun and Dalguhwa-hyeon. In the 16th year of King Gyeongdeok (757 AD), Wihwa-gun was renamed Suseong-gun and
During the Later Three Kingdoms Period, Wanggeon and Gyeonhweon fought each other for control of the capital of Gyeongju in a battle known as the Gongsan Battle, which took place at Palgongsan Mountain. The occurrence of this important battle serves as evidence that Daegu continued to be a key military and transportation point connecting Gyeongju (the capital) and neighboring regions until the late Silla Kingdom.Wangsan Mountain and Remains of General
In the early years of the Goryeo Dynasty, the Daegu region was divided into Suseong-gun, Daegu-hyeon, and Haean-hyeon. Daegu-hyeon belonged to Suseong-gun, and Haean-hyeon to Jangsan-gun. Later, in the 21st year of King Injong (1143 AD), an administrative officer was dispatched to Daegu-hyeon by the central government, which further boosted the status of Daegu-hyeon. When riots broke out nationwide during the military regime period of the Goryeo Dynasty, Daegu was one of the major places in which the riots took place. During the Mongolian invasion, the Chojo daejanggyeong (the First Edition of the Tripitaka Koreana) kept in Buinsa Temple were destroyed by fire, and local Koreans fought against invaders from atop the Gongsanseong Fortress on Palgongsan Mountain.
As the population increased, Daegu emerged as one of the major places for agricultural production and a hub of inland transportation in the Yeongnam region. In the first year of King Sejong (1419 AD), Daegu-hyeon was promoted to the designation of Daegu-gun, and in the 30th year of King Sejong (1448 AD), the nation’s first public grain warehouse, a welfare system run by the local governments, was established.Seonhwadang Hall,
In the 12th year of King Sejo (1466 AD), Dohobu (the provincial government office) was installed in Daegu as one of the nation’s key military points. During the Japanese invasion in 1592, civil resistance movements were frequently staged in Daegu. Later, in the 34th year of King Seonjo (1601 AD), Gyeongsanggamyeong Provincial Office of Gyeongsang Province was established, and in the 9th year of King Hyojong (1658 AD), a medicinal market, which later developed into the Daegu Yangnyeongsi, was opened near the Daegugaeksa Guesthouse. As time went on, Daegu increasingly became a center of administration, transportation, and military power in the Yeongnam region, and grew as a large municipality covering wide areas of Haean-hyeon, Hayang-hyeon, Gyeongsan-hyeon, Suseong-hyeon, Hwawon-hyeon, and Habin-hyeon.
Gyeongsanggamyeong Provincial Office
(photographed in 1905)
As the home of the Gyeongsanggamyeong Provincial Office, Daegu has played a central role in the Yeongnam region. In 1895, the local government system was reformed, and the eight do (provinces) were restructured into 23 bu (provinces), and the Daegu Gwanchalbu (provincial government) was given control of 23 gun (counties). The following year in 1896, the entire nation was again reorganized into 13 do (provinces). During this latter reorganization, Daegu Gwanchalbu was renamed Daegu-gun, but experienced no change in its status or governing districts.Landscape of Daegu City
The Office of Resident General was created in the immediate wake of the Korea-Japan Protectorate Treaty of 1905, and in 1906, the Daegu Regional Office of the Resident General was opened, giving Japan greater inroads into Korea. In 1910, the office was abolished, and Daegu-gun was reorganized into Daegu-bu, a province which existed up until 1945.
In 1907, the National Debt Repayment Movement, a peaceful and voluntary civic campaign in Daegu led by Seo Sang-don and Kim Gwang-je, attempted to restore the declining national sovereignty of Korea by abstaining from smoking and alcohol to help repay the national debt. The movement attracted wide support nationwide. In 1915, Seo Sang-il, independence activists in the Yeongnam region, and local civilians organized an underground organization called the Joseon National Sovereignty Recovery Front and led a mass protest in Daegu during the March 1st Independence Movement that occurred in March 1, 1919 as one of the earliest display of Korean resistance against Japanese colonial rule.Monument for Students of the Daegu School of Education Who Died Fighting Against Japanese Rule
In 1927, the Daegu chapter of Singanhoe, a nationalist organization, was launched to lead an anti-Japanese movement, and Jang Jin-hong, a member of Euiyeoldan, a radical group of anti-Japanese activists, attempted to blow up the Daegu branch of Joseon Bank. In the 1930s and thereafter, students in Daegu continued underground activities to restore national sovereignty and independence.
On August 15, 1945, Korea regained its independence and was liberated out from under decades of Japanese colonial rule. In 1948, the government of the Republic of Korea was officially inaugurated, and the following year, the Local Autonomy Act was passed, through which Daegu-bu was renamed Daegu City. During the Korean War in 1950, Daegu became a shelter for numerous refugees, and played a critical role as one of the key strongholds of the Nakdonggang River Battle. During the war, the artists and cultural leaders of Daegu engaged in a variety of creative activities to express the sorrows of the nation; these activities evolved into the contemporary culture and arts for which the city is still known today.Daegu Stadium
On February 28, 1960, the students of Daegu held a demonstration to protest the dictatorship of then-president Syngman Rhee. This demonstration, along with other uprisings that protested the rigged presidential election held on March 15 the same year, culminated in the April 19 Revolution, making a significant contribution to an overall democracy of the Republic of Korea.
In 1981, Daegu City was promoted and given the title of Daegu Direct-Controlled Municipality through the addition of Wolbae-eup, Seongseo-eup, and Gongsan-myeon of Dalseong-gun, Chilgok-eup of Chilgok-gun, and Ansim-eup and Gosan-myeon of Gyeongsan-gun. In 1995, with the addition of Dalseong-gun, the city became known as Daegu Metropolitan City, firmly establishing Daegu as a central city of the Yeongnam region. To date, Daegu Metropolitan City has hosted numerous international events including the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan, Summer Universiade 2003, World Championships in Gymnastics 2011, World Energy Congress 2013, and World Water Forum 2015, further solidifying its reputation as an international city.
(by Kim Tae-suk)