VIDEO: Exploring Korea: Step back in time in Jeonju City

File photos
File photos

VIDEO: Exploring Korea: Step back in time in Jeonju City

by ChiHon Kim
Stripes Korea

Jeonju Hanok Village, or Jeonju Hanok Maeul (전주한옥마을), is one of the largest traditional house villages in this country. This village, which features more than 700 Hanok houses, is a place where you can find the charm of Korean traditional architecture as you stroll along the alleys.

In addition to the hanok village, the historical neighborhood has plenty of great restaurants serving up delicious bibimbap and traditional food, making the place a perfect day trip destination. Have no idea what to do and where to eat in this village? Read on to make the most of your trip to Jeonju City.

1. Walking Hanok Village

The traditional house village is a major tourist destination and whether it’s peak season or not, weekends are busier than weekdays. So, avoid the weekend and hit the road early in the morning.

Avoid the afternoon crowds by reaching the village in the early morning. Take in the beauty of the area architecture in the quiet morning. But, if you’re planning an overnight stay, stroll in the evening hours as the busy street reveals another side of the neighborhood. When the soft light hues of the traditional lantern light up the street, quiet stillness prevails, creating an enchanting experience.

2. Gyeonggijeon Shrine & Royal Portrait Museum

Photo by Chihon Kim

Once you’ve reached the village, walk to the Gyeonggijeon Shrine. Grab a map at the tourist info center near the ticket booth so you can navigate your way without wasting time. Across the shrine, rent a beautiful hanbok outfit at the rental shops to add a memorable touch to your trip’s photos.

The shrine was erected in 1410 and enshrines the portrait of King Tae-jo, the founder of the Joseon Dynasty, along with his and his wife’s mortuary tablets. Besides King Tae-jo’s original portrait, you can also find portraits of many other successive kings in the museum.

Go down to the basement where you can see carriages on display that were used to transport dignitaries. Once you step out of the shrine, explore the narrow backstreets — they are well worth spending some time checking out.

3. Viewing village from Omokdae

For the village’s most iconic photo op, head to Omokdae (오목대), a historic site with a great view of the homes with their colorful tile roofs surrounding the area.

Omokdae is a decorative pavilion from where Yi Seong-gye, who later became King Taejo, the first king of the Joseon dynasty, stopped to celebrate his victory on his way home from a battle against the Japanese army at Hwangsan Mountain.

To reach this location, head toward the Traditional Artcraft Exhibition Center from Gyeonggijeon Shrine. From there, you’ll find a staircase that leads to Omokdae observatory.

After enjoying the beautiful view, cross the pedestrian overpass and head north to Imokodae, which has memorial stones and a building where Mokjo, the great-great-grandfather of King Taejo, once lived.

4. Jaman Mural Village

Continue south on the path and walk up the gentle slopes of Seungamsan Mountain near the Hanok Village until you reach another must-see spot: Jaman Mural Village.

Starting as a shantytown for Korean War refugees, the village now has 40 households with various mural decorations.

Young local artists have spruced up the grungy walls with colorful photogenic murals: artworks ranging from paintings of flowers, fairytales, beautiful scenery, and even famous animation, making the place perfect for travelers with kids.

5. Jeongdong Catholic Church & Nambu Market

After lunch, head to a tea house called Yea-dam(예담) right across from Gyeonggijeon Shrine. The tea shop on the second floor offers a wide range of traditional herbal teas. It’s a great place for a nice break from the crowds and from all the walking.

Down the street from the tea shop, you’ll see a beautiful Catholic church. You can’t miss this church thanks to its tall spire. This place which looks like famous Myeongdong Cathedral in Seoul, is the oldest and biggest Romanesque building in the Honam region. When the sun goes down, head to Nambu Market (or Nambu Sijang) for drinks and street food.

On the way to the market, don’t forget to stop by Pungnammun Gate(풍남문) near the church. Pungnammun Gate, which is on the south part of the old Jeonju Buseong (Jeonju Castle), is the only currently remaining castle gate among four surrounding the village.

Makgeolli, or rice wine, is a deep part of Jeonju’s history. Head to Makgeolli Street at Samcheondong(삼천동) or Seosindong(서신동) for your unique makgeolli experience with cheap side dishes at a local favorite makgeolli bar.

Parking lots (NAVER map)
- Free Daeseong Public parking lot
- Free National Intangible Heritage Center parking lot 
- Hanok Village public parking lot (paid parking)

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