What You Need To Know

Gwangju is best known for the Gwangju Massacre of May 18, 1980, in which at least 207 (or far higher depending on whom you ask) students were killed by army forces suppressing a pro-democracy demonstration. What this means is that Gwangju was at the forefront of the democracy movement in South Korea. The people of the city are proud of the uprising and tend to be at the forefront of any political upheaval in the country.

Gwangju has a thriving youth and arts culture and even a glance down the streets of Geumnamno will note a generally more fashion-conscious populace. Further to this, the city has numerous art galleries and hosts a biennial Biennale.

The city has an interesting claim to fame as having the largest and most modern bus terminal and possibly the largest single pedestrian drinking, dining and clubbing district in the country. This is reflective of the city in general, which holds a much more modern and clean appearance than anywhere else in the country, save perhaps Busan.

In Korea, Gwangju is famous for its cuisine as is the province of Jeolla. The entire area is considered the breadbasket of Korea. On the practical side, food is generally tastier and easier on the wallet throughout this province.

Population: 1.522 million (2014)
Area: 193.5 mi


The currency of South Korea is the South Korean won, or won for short. The currency sign for the won is South Korean Won KRW Symbol. The South Korean won comes in coins of 10, 50, 100, 500 and bills or banknotes of 1000, 5000, 10,000, 50,000.

Converting your cash to Korean won in your home country is usually not a good idea. Many international banks have a small amount of Korean won to exchange or even do not carry any at all. Exchange rates could also be high, so it is better to wait.

Converting cash at the Airport may be better than at overseas bank, but it is also not a good idea. The conversion rates are usually horrible or there is a large commission fee. If you need to convert a small amount of money to be able to get to your hotel, then that should be fine, but do not convert a large amount of cash. You will feel cheated if you do.

At a time, it seemed like restaurants and shops only accepted cash. Today, credit cards are accepted almost everywhere including more and more small restaurants. MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted. American Express is rarely accepted. To be safe, bring as many different types of credit cards as you have.


The climate in gwangju is mild, and generally warm and temperate. There is significant rainfall throughout the year in Gwangju. Even the driest month still has a lot of rainfall. This location is classified as Cfa by Köppen and Geiger. The average annual temperature in Gwangju is 14.0 °C. Precipitation here averages 1277 mm. At an average temperature of 27.0 °C, August is the hottest month of the year. In January, the average temperature is 0.7 °C. It is the lowest average temperature of the whole year.




Chonnam National University is a public university in Gwangju.

Honam Univ, Gwangju University, Gwangshin University, Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology, Gwangju Education University, Gwangju Women’s University, Nambu University, Chosun University, and Honam Christian University are private universities.

Gwangju Health University is a private community college offering associate degrees in humanities and social sciences, healthcare sciences, and a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

Gwangju has 593 schools, consisting of 234 kindergartens, 145 elementary schools, 84 middle schools, 65 high schools, 1 science high school (Gwangju science academy), 7 junior colleges, 9 universities, 38 graduate schools, and 11 others (as of 1 May 2009) with a total of 406,669 students, or 28.5{09de50652f0e5c79b34fe531a240da6865af24714f75ac6b2679adcaf9a23ede} of the total city population. The average number of students per household is 0.8.

Getting Around

The four main stops on the subway (though there are 19 total) are the Culture Center (former Provincial Office), Geumnamno-4 & 5 (pedestrian downtown), and Sangmu (the unofficial commercial center and western-style downtown area). To get to the bus terminal, exit at Nongseong Station (농성역 – Nongseong Yeok) and walk straight north (10 minutes) past E-Mart and Shinsegae. The bus terminal is juxtaposed to those two buildings. To take a train, take the subway to Songjeong-ni station and follow the signs for the train station. The second subway line that will eventually form a circle around the city will break ground towards the end of 2009. Eventually there will be three lines in Gwangju.

Buses are arranged by colors. Red buses are express buses, running often, making very few stops, and covering large parts of the city. Bus number 1 connects Sangmu area to the train station to Chosun University. Buses 6, 7, and 9 cover the rest of the city making large squares that intersect in important locations. Yellow buses are standard buses that run every 10 – 20 minutes. Green buses are village buses that connect smaller communities and rural areas to transfer points. Purple buses are district circulator buses, generally going to the outskirts of the city.

Taxis are incredibly cheap (by western standards). A taxi ride will cost 2800 won for the first two kilometers then 100 won after that. Basically, on a traffic free night, you can get across the city for around 10,000 won. Black taxis have a higher surcharge than white or silver taxis but due to the fact they charge on distances only, tend to drive more unpredictably. After 12:00 AM the overall taxi rate increases. The standard fare starts at 2640 and then charges about 110 won after that.