Visit Jeonju City, Korea

Travel

Visit Jeonju City, Korea

by: Jeonju City | .
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published: May 23, 2018

Up close and personal with the historic Joseon Dynasty

Jeonju is the home of the Joseon Dynasty’s founder King Taejo, otherwise known as Yi Seong-gye and the Yi Clan. Gyeonggijeon Hall in Jeonju Hanok Village enshrines the great king’s portrait and is visited by thousands of people every day. Koreans and international tourists go there to pay their respect to the man who founded Korea's last dynasty.

After hundreds of years, descendants of the Yi Clan still live among us in cities and back home in Jeonju. Coming face to face with King Taejo’s portrait allows us to get in touch with Korean history. The determination in his eyes and commanding aura has defined what Korea is today.

Food with class; spoiling your taste buds

Traditional Jeonju cuisine is Korean food at its best. Guests will be served with home-style cooking that will remind them of family dinners on holiday. Jeonju residents take much pride in their food and hospitality.

From Jeonju Korean Table d`hote to Jeonju bibimbap; anyone who tries the best of Jeonju’s cuisine will remember their experience. Fresh ingredients, devout professionalism, and generous hospitality will make you feel like a king.

Surprisingly, such high standards are of the norm to Jeonju residents. The local cuisine is a source of pride and joy to those who live in this historic city, and rightly so. In 2012, Jeonju was chosen as a Creative Cities for Gastronomy as part of UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network. Food is a major attraction factor for Jeonju, a city that offers a whole new standard of dining.

The hip new way to dine out, street food!

Jeonju cuisine is not all fancy and upscale. There are plenty of more casual yet equally satisfying ways to dine. One would say that Jeonju cuisine is best when served in Jeonju. The same goes for restaurants that only the locals would know. There is no better way to get to know the ‘real’ side of the city.

Start the day with a hearty Kong-namul-gukbap (Bean Sprout and Rice Soup); enjoy spicy Omogari-tang (Spicy Fish Stew) under a giant willow on the banks of Jeonjucheon Stream for lunch; reward yourself with Makgeolli and a plentiful assortment of side dishes at the end of the day. Munch on a Choco (Chocolate) Pie between meals when you feel the need to indulge. Your tour around restaurants that offer the city’s most beloved foods will bring you one step closer to Jeonju.

Life in Jeonju, a never-ending festival

The street is bustling with hurrying pedestrians, many of which are holding a print-out of their itinerary with a big backpack on their back. The crowd is international; the volunteers stand out from the rest in their bright yellow jumpers. May is the season for Jeonju International Film Festival.

If springtime is for movies, summer is a season for Jeonju Dan-o Festival, while autumn is for Jeonju Bibimbap Festival and Jeonju International Sori Festival. Bibimbap, a dish synonymous with ‘Jeonju’, is now loved by gourmets all over the world. The dish is so popular that it has its own festival in its hometown of Jeonju. As you can see, there is something to celebrate whenever you visit Jeonju.

Taking a look at the list of festivals available in the area is a good way to learn what the city aspires to be. The festivals that Jeonju hosts are a good implication of what the city is like, the same way that Jeonju is the window to Korean culture. The city’s festivals are growing more and more popular as the citizens take an active part in creating a memorable event.

Get to know the art of papermaking at Jeonju Haji Culture Festival, sample some of the most flavorful sauces and pickles at the Jeonju International Fermented Food Expo, Jeonju Daesaseupnor Festival, which is a grand festival where traditional Korean musicians perform and compete. Treat your ears by participating in the Jeonju International Sori Festival, where you get to enjoy colorful, beautiful sounds from all over the world, or watch one of Korea’s biggest b-boying competitions, Jeonju Bboy GrandPrix. Jeonju World Inline Marathon and Jeonju Dan-o Festival are also popular among tourists.

Who wouldn’t fall in love with Jeonju?

Historic tour

A piece of history around every corner

Jeonju Hanok Village is across from Pungnammun Gate away from the hustle-bustle of the downtown area. Once you are there, you will be greeted by one of Korea’s oldest cathedrals, known as Jeondong Catholic Cathedral. The grand Romanesque building is the oldest Western building built in the modern era in all of Korea’s south-western region. Newlyweds celebrate their matrimony and devout Catholics visit from all corners of Korea to attend Sunday mass. The cathedral is a major part of Jeonju’s modern history that is still a part of everyday life today.

Across the road from Jeondong Catholic Church you will see Gyeonggijeon Hall, a site deeply connected to the history of Taejo of Joseon, the founder of the Yi Dynasty. The Hall grounds are popular for the trails that pass through bamboo forests. If you are spending the day exploring Hanok Village, make time to drop by Jeonjuhyanggyo (Confucian School). The path to the School is lined with gingko trees that turn bright yellow and gold in autumn. Established during the Joseon Dynasty as an educational institution, sixteen of its buildings remain to this day. Gyeonggijeon Hall is also nearby. Chimyeongjasan Mountain is always busy with devout Catholics visiting the holy site.  You can get a full view of Jeonju from the summit.

Experience tours
See, feel, and experience

Have you made it all the way to Jeonju Hanok Village on a fine spring day but have found yourself wondering what to do next? If you are a tourist from outside of Jeonju or even out of the country, taking a look at the fourteen cultural facilities run by Jeonju can help you draft a solid itinerary.

Jeonju was famous as the center of publication during the Joseon era. So much so that books published in the city were specifically referred to as wanpanbon. Stories published in Jeonju were especially popular. Visit the Wanpanbon Culture Center to make a wood print of your own. The Jeonju Fan Culture Center is dedicated to fans that have been elevated to a piece of art, combining Jeonju hanji with bamboo. Within Jeonju Hanok Village you will find displays of calligraphy and literature related relics. Choi Myeong Hee Literary Museum is dedicated to the author of Honbul, an epic novel that spans across three generations. Gangam Museum of Calligraphy offers one-day courses where you can try writing calligraphy with an ink and brush.

Try your hand at making gayangju at Jeonju Traditional Wine Museum or stand in for a Korean traditional wedding mock-up in full costume or learn how to play traditional games at Jeonju Traditional Cultural Center.

Jeonju Crafts Exhibition Hall is categorized so that the visitors can understand the development of Korean crafts in a glance. You can also make your own souvenir using hanji, fabric, or wood. Crafts and Workshop Street in Jeonju Hanok Village offers crafting classes as well.

Jeonju Sori Culture Center was built to continue the musical heritage of pansori. Here you can learn the basic beats and learn how to sing pansori style. Gugak FM is another facility dedicated to traditional Korean music. You can visit the broad-casting station’s hanok studio where pansori is recorded and produced.

Samdoheon, Cheongmyeongheon, and Seunggwangjae are hanok accommodations where you can take your time to appreciate the benefits of living in a hanok. There is no better way to learn new things than to experience it yourself.
 
Tour of unique locations
Four joys only a wandering tourist would know
 
Those who visit Jeonju Hanok Village will notice some unusual signs in the neighborhood. Here is an introduction to some unique and slightly odd places that you may want to explore during your time in Jeonju. Iuielle Hat Culture Center was created by a collector who had a passion for hats from around the world. Yeomyeong Camera Museum specializes in old cameras. Both are owned and run by private owners, but the size of the collections are not far from that of a national museum. Both museums have a cafe, a shop, and exhibition hall.
 
Gyodong Art is a gallery that displays the works of contemporary artists. Its calendar is always full of upcoming exhibitions. The fact that the museum was once an underwear factory makes the space all the more interesting. When you are tired of walking, pop by Jeonju Korean Herbal Medicine Center. You can soak your feet in warm water infused with Korean medicinal herbs to help your tired legs recover. Now that's an experience you will remember.
 
Market tour
Good to visit the market
 
By the time the sky begins to light up, merchants begin to gather at the market. They are here for the Dokaebi Market that opens from five in the morning and closes three hours later. It was named dokaebi (demon) because it was said that the market opens and closes so quickly, it is hard to tell if it really even happened. This is the market where you can get the freshest groceries for a reasonable price.
 
Make your way up to the second floor of Nambu Market and you will see Chungnyun Mall’s motto, ‘Earn less but live well.’ The entire floor is dedicated to stores run by merchants in their twenties and thirties. When it opened, it injected the rather stagnant Nambu Market with a much-needed boost.
 
The night market is another place you don’t want to miss. It is crowded, but your taste buds will be happy.
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