Living in Gumi
Life in Gumi
Gumi is not particularly famous, nor is it listed on many tourist “must see” destination lists, but living in Gumi has a charm of its own. The city is a major industry hub, home to various factories, including Samsung and LG. While this may not sound too appealing it does mean great things for the transportation system. Buses and trains from Gumi will take you almost anywhere in the country, a perfect opportunity for you to explore other cities on your weekends and vacations. Expats living in Gumi sometimes joke that the best thing about the city is the “ease of getting out,” but don’t let that scare you off. Fun fact, it’s also the birthplace of the current president’s father Park Chung-hee.
Nature in the Concrete Jungle
Maybe the most notable ‘attraction’ in Gumi is Mount Geumo, a popular hiking destination and hangout year round. The hike to the top, at nearly 1000m, is a great way to spend the day, stopping at one or all of the attractions along the way: Doesan Cave, Daehy Waterfall, Haeun Temple, YakSa Temple or the Cliff Buddha. If hiking isn’t for you, the area surrounding Geumo mountain has plenty to offer: delicious restaurants, Geumo lake, and Geumo land (a small amusement park).
On the opposite side of town lies the Nakdong river, which offers Dong-rak park as a popular hangout. There are running trails along the river, soccer courts, baseball fields and even a stage area for various performances. If getting outdoors is your thing than this is a great place to be.
While Gumi isn’t exactly famous for its food offerings, there is one dish claimed as its own and that’s Gopchang. This may not be high on your list of things to try though, it’s the boiled version of Makchang (famous from nearby Daegu), grilled pork intestine. For the more adventurous it’s definitely worth a try, ask a Korean about it and you’ll receive almost resounding nods of agreement that it’s delicious. But, if adventure and food don’t go hand in hand for you there are plenty of other eats on offer. Downtown has a plethora of cafes and restaurants, traditional snacks can be found at the market and many foreign restaurants (Thai, Indian, and Western) are scattered throughout In-dong (on the east edge of the city, across the Nakdong river).
Like almost all cities there is a ‘Gumi’ Facebook group for teachers and other expats living in Gumi, an outlet to meet friends, ask advice, buy and sell things, and find out about events, both in the city and around the country. Aside from the internet there are a few ‘hangouts’ around town. There’s the foreigner bar (Corona) downtown, soccer clubs, hiking groups, a small yoga community, and various other clubs that seem to organize themselves (language exchange, board game, guitar class, etc.) If you’re feeling unsure about meeting people the best advice would be to get out and try things, usually approaching other foreigners at cafes, parks or bars is acceptable; we were all the newbie at one point so we know what it’s like.
Getting around (and out)
Although it’s not big enough for a subway system Gumi offers a comprehensive and fairly reliable bus system. The routes can be confusing at first, but learn a little Korean, download the app (Gumi bus) and you should be fine. Getting out of the city is just as easy, if not more so. Gumi station is centrally located and easy to find, somewhat of a landmark to ‘downtown’ with trains running frequently both North and South along the Gyeongbu line. Additionally there is a comprehensive bus system with intercity buses running to multiple destinations across the country. If you don’t know what to do with yourself on the weekend venture to the station, pick a place and go!
Living in Gumi
Although Gumi isn’t notable for much the city has a charm of it’s own. Give it a chance and you’ll quickly warm up to the place, or if not at least it’s easy to leave. Comparing this to other larger cities (Seoul, Busan, Daegu), you’ll quickly realize and appreciate the small-town charm. People are nicer, prices are lower, and life is just a little bit slower.
Stephanie is a storyteller, yoga enthusiast, and wandering soul who recently settled in for her second round of teaching in Korea. After her first stay in Korea, teaching in the EPIK program in Korea, Stephanie spent nearly two years traveling, exploring the world, making new friends, and becoming a certified yoga instructor. If you want to read about her travels, teaching tales or just learn more, check her out here: www.yogifootprints.weebly.com