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Despite not being the largest city in South Korea, Gwangju still has a thriving nightlife thanks to its numerous live music venues and developing craft beer scene. The best bars in Gwangju to unwind and enjoy a drink are right here!
Gwangju is known for its plethora of live music, its rich political history, and its reverence for originality. The May 18 Democratic Uprising, a 1980 mass demonstration against South Korea’s authoritarian military regime, is frequently regarded as the birthplace of Korean democracy, and its effects still strongly shape the city’s identity.
It is said that Gwangju is the “City of Light.” In the 23rd year (940) of King Taejo’s rule during the Goryeo Dynasty, the name Gwangju was first used. The origin of the city’s name is unknown, but it is believed to have come from Yi Saek, one of the greatest scholars of the Goryeo Dynasty, who called the region “Gwangjiju” or “Village of Light” in his work “Seoseokjueonggi.”
Gwangju is a city of the sun and light as a result. As implied by the name, Gwangju has long served as Korea’s salt and light. Gwangju’s soul flourished throughout Japanese occupation through good deeds and the Gwangju Students Independence Movement. The May 18th Democratic Uprising was a brilliant symbol of democratisation associated with Gwangju in the 1980s.
The Gwangju Uprising was a widespread demonstration against Chun Doo-military Hwan’s regime in South Korea. Between May 18 and May 27, 1980, it occurred in Gwangju, a city in the Jeollanam-do province. According to reports, around a quarter of a million individuals participated in the uprising. Despite the fact that this particular uprising did not result in democratic reformation in the nation, it was a crucial turning point in the fight for democracy.
It would be helpful to go back in time to the anti-communist rule of Syngman Rhee (), South Korea’s first President, in order to comprehend how this revolt came about. Rhee increased his hostility against his political opponents during the course of his nearly 18 years in power. This was the first of several student-led democratic demonstrations that would follow in the early 1960s and last for years. Following Rhee, in 1961 Park Chung-Hee () carried out his own military takeover and overthrew the government. He assumed executive authority for the following 18 years, much like Rhee.
In addition to the press and college students, Park also repressed his political rivals. He put out the Yushin Constitution in 1972, which gave him complete autocratic power. On October 26, 1979, he was assassinated as a result of which Chun Doo-Hwan () launched a new coup. Chun was able to impose martial law in April 1980 once he had taken control of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency. A number of countrywide rallies demanding democratic elections were organised in response to this proclamation by opposition leaders, activists, and students. The epicentre of this movement was Gwangju, which has a strong history of democratic preference and student protests. Approximately 600 students gathered at Chonnam National University on May 18 before being driven back by government police. As a result, almost the whole city of Gwangju became engaged, sparking what became known as the Gwangju Uprising. Chun ordered Special Forces to quell the protests with U.S. permission, a move that stoked anti-American sentiment for years to come. The nation’s military used its discretion to commit brutal deaths, beatings, and kidnappings.
Protesters began to gather firearms wherever they could as the insurrection progressed. Armed with weapons such as firearms, bats, knives, pipes, hammers, and more, they burst into police stations. By the evening of May 21, the government had fled, and Gwangju’s residents proclaimed the city to be free. This period of quiet was brief. Chun’s men attacked every part of the city on May 27 with tanks, armoured personnel carriers, and helicopters. The military put an end to the rebellion in under two hours. Nearly 200 civilians were reportedly murdered at the time, although the Gwangju population estimated the number to be closer to 2,000. Given that they were firing continuously from helicopters, this seems significantly more credible.
Korea didn’t elect a democratic president for the first time until 1993. Kim Tae-Jung, who had previously been detained and given a death sentence for his involvement in the revolt, was elected as the second democratic President in 1998.. Roh Moo Hyun, who succeeded him, was also connected to the revolt. In 1996, the army general Roh Tae-Woo and Chun Doo-Hwan were found guilty of mutiny, treason, and corruption. Being the outstanding leader that he was, Kim Dae-Jung officially pardoned both men in 1997.
Whether you’re looking for a memorable spot to enjoy some drinks or want to explore all that Gwangju has, we have the recommendations for you. Read on to discover a selection of the best bars in Gwangju;
Tequilaz, in the heart of Gwangju, is lively, loud, and multicultural location with lots of foreign visitors. As a testament to South Koreas international appeal, this Mexican establishment is great.
The burrito, chimichanga, and margaritas were are all revered. The TVs play loud music videos. T he restaurant’s chic decor and distinctive atmosphere is completely original for the centre of Gwangju. A pool table and dart board are available for use. Ideal for a group of friends to hang out.
This place is renowned in the Gwangju are for its great food, affordable prices, helpful staff, clean interior, and perfectly spaced tables that are six feet apart. Could easily be your preferred restaurant in town for high-quality Mexican food.
Directions: 20 Munhwajeondang-ro 35beon-gil, Chungjang-dong, Dong-gu, Gwangju, South Korea
Speakeasy, which has been around for more than a decade, is without a doubt the preferred drinking establishment for thirsty Gwangjuites. Irish pub Speakeasy offers draught beer, imported beer, a wide variety of spirits, and cocktails in Gwangju. Sports on a large screen, darts, pool, and LIVE music.
Foreigners love to hang out at this secret bar on the second floor that offers a wide variety of imported beers. Sometimes bands perform on Fridays or Saturdays. Leaving Burger King’s front door, turn left and continue 40 metres down an alley.
It’s understandable why the city comes here to party because of the fantastic happy hour, live music until midnight, and a live DJ keeping the dancing going after that. After a long day at work, Speakeasy is a great place to unwind because it hosts trivia nights and broadcasts all the major games on its big-screen TVs.
Even if you just need a place to go for a drink while you’re out on your own. There is a large room with a pool table and darts upstairs above the bar. a terrific venue to meet up with larger groups of pals. If you are in the Gwangju downtown area, you must visit this location.
Directions: South Korea, 황금동 48-2번지 2층 동구 광주광역시 KR
This quaint Dongmyeong-dong brewpub serves only locally brewed beers that are specially crafted to appeal to the tastes of its twenty and thirty-something patrons. Try their best-selling Gwangsan Weizen, a frothy beer with a full flavour and hints of clove and banana.
Alternatively, if you want something richer, try the Dongmyeong ESA’s nutty, rich caramel flavors. Afterworks has a contemporary and upscale interior that makes it feel more like a café than a bar, and the knowledgeable staff goes out of their way to make customers feel welcome.
Three driven founders, Choi Jin-won, Seo Jun-yeoung, and Yun Hyun-suk, had the idea for an upscale boutique brewpub that combined beer and fine dining six months ago. Starting from scratch, they established their company in the well-known traditional village of Jeonju and started formulating recipes with names that would appeal to Gwangju consumers, such as Yeongsang River Dunkel and Mudeung Mountain Pilsner.
These three pioneers focused on lighter drafts, IPAs, and weizens, flavours that are much more approachable for people used to Cass, in contrast to recent trends towards heavy stouts and double hops. The resulting flight, which is only available at their Dongmyeong-dong location, is delicate in every way: it is light in color, easy to drink, and dangerously so.
Directions: 68-35, Dongmyeong-dong, Dong-gu, GwangjuG
A hidden loft (apartment) with a rooftop patio for individuals looking to have a tryst or just hang out with pals at the Chonnam University backgate neighbourhood.
Loft 28, a relatively new addition to Gwangju’s nightlife scene, has swiftly made a name for itself as a pub that welcomes foreigners and the new hotspot near the Chonnam University back gate. Take a drink, then relax with your special someone on the rooftop patio. The pub offers a variety of activities and events, such as language exchanges, dance lessons, themed parties, and even an escape room, if you want a little extra excitement.
The first true Jamaican restaurant to open in South Korea, where we import all of our goods from the tiny island and solely employ traditional family recipes.
Directions: 156-3 Yongbong-dong, Buk-gu, Gwangju, South Korea
For an evening of relaxation, head to In the Groove, the city’s best jazz bar. Every night at ten o’clock, the intimate, dimly-lit subterranean hideaway is filled with the hypnotic sounds of jazz as Gwangju’s most talented musicians take the stage. It may be a touch more expensive than other bars on this list, but the ambiance and service are unparalleled. Put on your best attire, for your stay here will be the bee’s knees.
Warm yellow lamps illuminate faded black-and-white images of jazz artists mid-solo, Marilyn Monroe, and even The Beatles, which are hung on all four walls. Behind the bar is a collection of kitsch artefacts, including a gold statue of the Eiffel Tower and some old-fashioned wooden children’s toys, beside a huge CD collection that any budding music enthusiast would be proud of. The atmosphere in the tavern is extremely retro.
This location has a beautiful, cosy ambience and design. Friday and Saturday evenings include live jazz with a 5,000 won cover charge. They provide an extensive menu of cocktails and drinks by the glass (most priced between 8,000 and 15,000 won) as well as an extensive selection of bottles. It is near numerous additional bars, clubs, restaurants, and stores.
Directions: 34-2 Jungang-ro 160beon-gil, Dong-gu, Gwangju, South Korea
Hongdae is without a doubt the most lively area for nightlife in Seoul. In addition to being the nexus of Seoul’s underground party scene, the neighbourhood is home to a number of drinking dens that offer a more low-key and refined drinking experience. Found somewhere that can make the ‘best bars in Hongdae list? Let us know.