The on-again, off-again Chungjangno Recollection Festival (추억의 7080 충장축제) in downtown Gwangju opened on the 13th and will run through Sunday the 18th. Originally cancelled because of swine flu, it started with a parade today.
Here are a few more pictures of stuff to remember:
(1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
I can't link directly to any pages on the official site, but you can find a program, in Korean, as well as a map and more information. On the right sidebar you'll find timetables for events at each of the many festival locations in the area, such as the post office or art street. The area is accessible via Geumnammo 4-ga and Culture Complex subway stations. KoreaMaria has put together some cafe recommendations---and in July commenter ross gave his coffeeshop recommendations---though I think I've resolved to try the relatively new Arab restaurant on Saturday and then walk over to Sajik Park.
Earlier I said the festival is nothing special, and that's partially true, though reviewing the program just now I do see there are a lot of performances scheduled. Though it's a "recollection festival" there is little to distinguish the Chungjangno of this weekend from the Chungjangno of every other weekend. Vendors do have some old-timey snacks, but they're things you can usually get at any other time. I feel like there's a lot more that could be done to make this an interesting festival, but I suppose it's tricky when the "good old days" were filled with foreign occupation, civil war, poverty, or government-led anti-communist crackdowns.
One thing I enjoy is looking at the old pictures of Gwangju they put up in the subway stations, on the banners over the streets, and in some parking garages. I haven't been as good a collector of old pictures as I once intended, but here are a few of Chungjangno in the 1950s and 1960s, taken from here:
Here's a view of downtown Gwangju from the 1970s. Chungjangno is the large street that terminates at the Old Provincial Hall, on the left of the picture. The dome at the top of the photograph is located at Gwangju Park, and I'm pretty sure the ㄴ-shaped building in the middle is the post office.
And, since we're here, there is a collection of pictures of Gwangju from the 50s and 60s here, and below is a pair of photographs of Gwangju Station, from 1968 an 1969, respectively, taken from this Naver cafe:
Another thing I like is what I'll call the "walk down memory lane," called 시간여행 in Korean, although the exhibit is really quite small. One reason it's so hard to have a good "recollection festival" is because the area's changed so much over the years. Though there are some buildings that remain from older decades, everything's obscured by signs and lights. Gwangju is redoing the area around the Old Provincial Hall, turning it into a car-free plaza, and I said in an earlier post that they should redo some of this pedestrian area as well, perhaps making an old-timey block or something. But, like I said, one obstacle to this is that the good old days in Korea weren't that good.
Something I'd like to visit, but something that would be wholly inappropriate for recollecting at a festival, is the set they built in Oryong-dong for the movie "Remember-U 518." It's meant to replicate how downtown Gwangju looked in 1980, though as Korea Beat reported last year it's seen better days. There are photos available via a Naver search. I wonder what will happen to it once the Old Provincial Hall gets redone and the area no longer resembles the 1980 version.
Another thing I'd like to visit, were it not all the way in Incheon, is the Sudoguksan Museum of Housing and Living (수도국산달동네박물관). But I think it'd be neat to combine something like this museum, or the oft-vacant Suncheon Drama Set, with the idea of a folk village, so that when people visit there's more to do than simply walk around. That'd be where a festival like the one in Chungjangno might step up.