A trip to Jeonju Hanok Village
About a 2 hour KTX train ride from Seoul, Jeonju welcomes visitors with its charming and relaxed atmosphere. No better place encapsulates the particular atmosphere unique to Jeonju like the Jeonju Hanok Village nestled in the heart of the city. From the train station, the Hanok Village is only about 20 minutes by taxi, and once you arrive, you will come face to face with the time-honored streets lined with traditional hanok houses and wonderful landmarks like the Jeondong Catholic Cathedral.
Located in the center of Jeollabuk-do, Jeonju has long been known as a city of art, style, and delicious food. It is often referred to as “a city of yehyang” (a place that has a wide appreciation for arts and is home to many artists), but has made its name as a city booming with traditional culture and an authentic Korean feel. At the heart of Jeonju is the Jeonju Hanok Village, which was designated as an International Slow City in 2010 in recognition of its relaxed pace of life where traditional culture and the natural environment mix perfectly. The village is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Korea and offers, among many other activities, an opportunity to see pansori, which is a traditional Korean opera inscribed as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Comprised of around 800 hanoks (traditional Korean houses), the Jeonju Hanok Village is where past and the present coexist in harmony.
First-time visitors to Jeonju Hanok Village should take note of the recommended village tour courses available through the village homepage (tour.jeonju.go.kr – Korean) when planning their trip.
What to see
Jeondong Catholic Cathedral
Considered one of the most beautiful Catholic churches in Korea, due in part to the grandeur of its Romanesque architecture, Jeondong Catholic Cathedral is the oldest Western-style building in Jeolla-do. The site on which the church currently stands was originally the location of the Jeolla-do Provincial Office, and it is also where the first Korean Catholic martyrs were executed. The church is well-known as the filming location for a scene from the Korean movie “A Promise” (1998) where the protagonist couple held their marriage inside the empty church.The red brick church with granite stone is adorned with a beautiful dome ceiling and stained glass windows. The building is topped with three bell towers, the largest of which is located in the center with two smaller ones to its right and left. The white Jesus Christ figure in front of the church further reflects the beauty of the building, and there is also a memorial stone engraved with the words “The first martyrs ground in Korea.”
Doldam-gil (Stone Wall Walkway)
One of the most common, yet easily overlooked, attractions at Jeonju Hanok Village is the Stone Wall Walkway, called “Doldam-gil” in Korean. The picturesque walkways flanked by stone walls are found throughout the village. As you walk throughout the village, these walkways provide a sense of balance and enrich the traditional feel of the village. They also make for a great backdrop when taking pictures!
Gyeonggijeon Shrine means “a royal palace built on a joyful site worthy of celebration” and was constructed in 1410 to safely hold the portrait of Taejo Yi Seong-gye (1335-1408), who founded the Joseon Dynasty in 1392. Once inside, a gorgeous extensive yard surrounded by ancient trees and a bamboo grove unfolds before you. Walk further along to find the Royal Portrait Museum where you can see the portraits of kings from the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) including that of King Taejo and the Jeonju Historical Archives displaying the historical record manuscripts.
Jaman Mural Village
One of the old lower-income hillside villages in Korea, Jaman Mural Village, is located below the ridge connecting the Omokdae and Imokdae historic sites at the foot of Seungamsan Mountain’s Jungbawi Rock. From the mural village, Jeonju Hanok Village can be seen. The history of this village dates back to the 1960s when the first few houses were erected, and after which the alleys became packed with small houses. Although it is a fairly steep walk up to Jaman Village, visitors will be able to enjoy murals painted on the buildings and walls along the way. With the increasing number of visitors flocking to see the murals, Jaman Mural Village has become a top tourist attraction of Jeonju along with Jeonju Hanok Village, Omokdae, and Imokdae.
What to do
Crafts Road, or “Gongye Myeongpum-gil” in Korean, is full of high quality and excellently designed handicrafts. It is a lot of fun to look around the huddle of handicraft workshops between the narrow alleys. A wide variety of craftworks like wood crafts, porcelain, naturally-dyed scarves and handkerchiefs, hanji (traditional Korean paper) fans, calligraphy works, and more can be found in the area. The workshops offer an assortment of hands-on craft programs, so you will have a chance to create your own craftwork, which makes for a great souvenir.
Top 3 Traditional Experience Programs at Jeonju Hanok Village
Fan Making at Jeonju Fan Culture Center
Fans are one of the many prized local products of Jeonju. In the past, Jeonju’s delicate fans reached such national acclaim that they were offered to the kings of the Joseon Dynasty. The fans are made using high-quality hanji paper and bamboo combined with the distinct Jeonju artistic sense. Even today, fans made by master artisans who carry on the tradition of fan making around the bamboo and hanji producing areas of Damyang and Jeonju are treated as priceless art works. At the Jeonju Fan Culture Center, you can make and decorate your own fan!
Jeonju Fan Culture Center Homepage: fan.jjcf.or.kr/ (Korean)
Joseon Era Printing Experience at Wanpanbon Culture Center
Jeonju was a publication hub during the Joseon Dynasty. With the growth of hanji paper production, publishing businesses such as woodblock engravers, publishers, and bookstores were able to develop centrally. As Jeonju was originally named Wansan, the old woodblock-printed books published in Jeonju were called Wanpanbon. The Wanpanbon Culture Center displays original Wanpanbons publications and offers hands-on programs for visitors to experience woodblock printing. Participants in the program get to complete a book by applying ink on woodblocks with an ink dipped brush and weaving the woodblock-printed sheets of hanji paper.
Wanpanbon Culture Center Homepage: www.jjcf.or.kr/ (Korean)
Make Traditional Liquor at the Jeonju Korean Traditional Wine Museum
The Jeonju Korean Traditional Wine Museum provides visitors a chance to learn about the Korean tradition of Gayangju (home-brewed liquor) and engage in related hands-on activities such as filtering liquor that has been brewed using traditional methods. The most popular program at the wine museum is the Makgeolli Wine Filtering Experience. After the experience program ends, participants can take home the filtered alcohol. Other programs include the Moju Filtering Experience (participation fee: 5,000 won / duration: 20 minutes / Saturdays between 2 and 5 p.m.) and the Sweet Wine Brewing Experience (participation fee: 7,000 won / duration: 20 minutes / Saturdays between 2 and 5 p.m.).
What to eat
Veteran, the noodle experts
The famous noodle restaurant Veteran has been located in front of Jeonju Sungsim Girls’ High School since 1977. While their kal-guksu (knife cut noodle soup/ 5,000 won) topped with a generous amount of dried seaweed, perilla seeds, and red pepper powder is their most beloved dish, during the sweltering summer months, many people come for a delicious bowl of their kong-guksu (noodles in a cold soybean broth/ 6,000 won), which resembles patbingsu (shaved ice with toppings) at first sight. The savory and sweet kong-guksu comes with a generous serving of noodles in a thick soybean soup sprinkled with roasted rice and grain powder. The mandu (dumplings/ 4,000 won) make for a great side dish to accompany any of the noodle dishes at Veteran. The restaurant is open from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Oehalmeoni Somssi, for traditional patbingsu
Patbingsu (shaved ice topped with red beans) is one of the most common summer treats in Korea and Oehalmeoni Somssi is the most popular bingsu shop in Jeonju Hanok Village. On weekends, there are often long lines of people waiting in front of the shop. The heukimja (black sesame) patbingsu made the old fashioned way with a mix of red beans and black sesame has a clean and addictive taste. Although patbingsu served here has no fancy ingredients or decorations, it is faithful to the traditional taste, for which the shop draws a constant stream of customers. The price is great, too, as a bowl of heukimja patbingsu costs just 7,000 won.
Aedam, serving strawberry chapssal-tteok
Each bite of the fresh and chewy strawberry chapssal-tteok (glutinous rice cake) explodes with a burst of flavor. The handmade strawberry chapssal-tteok is a popular snack that is both visually appealing and equally as tasty thanks to its creative blend of juicy strawberries and the traditional taste of Korean rice cakes. The price is 2,000 won apiece and you can find this delicacy at Aedam Chapssaltteok Shop.
Daurang, the best mandu in town
From the entrance to the Hanok Village, a long line of people will lead you to Daurang, which is famous for its handmade mandu (dumplings). Among the many delicious mandu sold here, the most popular is cheolpan saeu mandu (grilled shrimp dumplings), packed with plump shrimp. The cost of mandu here differs per selection, but usually ranges between 1,500 and 2,500 won apiece.
Eoraha, unique ice cream sandwiches
Eoraha is located in front of the entrance to Omokdae and serves up a delicious and natural ice cream sandwich made using chalborippang (barley bread). It is a comparatively healthy snack since the bread is made with natural barley instead of flour. The signature bread is topped with ice cream, Asian mulberries, and edible flowers. One ice cream sandwich costs 2,500 won.
Kong-namul-gukbap, a Jeonju specialty
Kong-namul-gukbap (bean sprout and rice soup) is one of the most well-known specialties of Jeonju. The crunchy bean sprouts and spicy soup make for a hearty meal. Kong-namul-gukbap is typically served with a half-cooked poached egg and dried seaweed on the side. Moju, a traditional liquor made by boiling down makgeolli with eight kinds of medicinal herbs, pairs well with kong-namul-gukbap.
Jeonju Makgeolli Alley
Jeonju has been able to produce quality liquor for a long time thanks to the area’s abundance of rice, water, and malt, the three essential elements required for brewing alcohol. At the Jeonju Makgeolli Alley, a hearty assortment of snacks (called “anju” in Korean) made with fresh seasonal ingredients are generously served with makgeolli (traditional rice wine). The most popular makgeolli alleys in Jeonju are the ones in Samcheon-dong and Seosin-dong. Samcheon-dong is said to be the original makgeolli alley and has around 30 shops. Seosin-dong has around 20 shops that offer a unique selection of snacks and rice wine. Although prices vary by shop, a kettle of makgeolli with 5 to 6 side dishes usually costs 20,000 won and up. You can order more alcohol and an upgraded selection of snacks for an additional cost of 15,000 won per table.
Where to stay
Jeonju Hanok Living Experience Center
Visitors staying overnight in Jeonju should try the “Hanok Stay” program which allows patrons to stay in a traditional Hanok house. Jeonju Hanok Village offers a variety of hanok accommodations including the century old Hakindang, the Jeonju Hanok Living Experience Center, Samdoheon, Deokmanjae, and much, much more. The unique overnight experience at one of these hanok accommodations will allow visitors to appreciate the beauty of traditional Korean architecture and landscaping.
List of Accommodations in Jeonju Hanok Village (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
Travel Information: Hanok Village Tourist Information Centers
Before embarking on a tour of the Hanok Village, visitors may want to collect travel information from the tourist information centers located by Gyeonggijeon Shrine, Omokdae, Wanpanbon Culture Center, and in the Hanok Village Parking Lot. The brochures and maps will help you explore the village more efficiently. During the months of July and August, visitors can participate in a Hanok Village tour program accompanied by tour guides by going to the Omokdae Tourist Information Center at 10 a.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on weekends. The approximately 1 hour tour has two varying programs: the cultural attraction course and the hyanggyo (Confucian school) course, both of which alternate depending on the day of the week and are conducted in Korean only.
Hanok Village Tourist
Information Center: +82-63-282-1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
Gyeonggijeon Shrine Tourist Information Center: +82-63-287-1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
Omokdae Tourist Information Center: +82-63-282-1335 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
1330 Korea Travel Hotline: +82-2-1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)