Palgong Mountain is often known more for its hiking, temples, Gatbawi, and Donghwasa, but there’s another unique, and for me rather unexpected, museum there as well. It’s the Daegu Citizens’ Safety Museum.
The Daegu Citizens’ Safety Museum is all about promoting safety. It hosts field trips for school children to learn how to be safe during disasters, and accommodates company visitors as well. After all, office safety is also a concern during any natural disaster. The guided tour provides information about natural disasters and responses to more recent man-made disasters. The natural disasters featured include floods, earthquakes, and even Hwang-sa (also called “yellow dust” or “Asian dust”, click here if you’re new to Korea and haven’t experienced this yet).
The most harrowing exhibit at the museum is undoubtedly the depiction of the 2.18 Subway incident at Jungangno Station. A fire had broken out during a late-morning in February, 2003. Lack of safety measures in the subway cars at the time lead to the deaths of nearly 200 passengers aboard two cars. The Daegu Citizens’ Safety Museum shows visitors a dramatization of the event, while sitting in a 3D theater with shaking seats. It’s a rather disturbing recollection of the events of that day, filled with drama and sadness, but is effective in passing the message along to the viewer: don’t skimp out on safety or planning for safety.
That part of the exhibit ends with visitors learning how to respond to an emergency in the subway: notify the operator by a push-button in each car, know the location of all fire extinguishers, and understand the procedures for turning off the air compression that holds the doors together and how to force the doors open for escape. Visitors then go through a mock scenario in a real-sized subway car. The lights are turned off and a fog machine simulates smoke. Visitors then follow the steps they’ve learned and make their escape.
The Daegu Citizens’ Safety Museum is a very well organized and effective tool for teaching this wonderful community about the importance of maintaining a safe home and workplace. If for nothing else, I recommend the subway exhibit. Each time I pass by Jungangno Station, I still think about what I learned that day and when I exit the subway among the throng of commuters, I notice the reflective signs and glow-in-the-dark tape lining the floors and leading towards a safe place.
Getting there: Head towards Palgong Mountain. In the restaurant/tourist hotels outside of Donghwasa Temple, you’ll see the museum on the left, on a hill.