Jeonju City 전주시

This episode will focus on the city of Jeonju aka “the land of flowery dreams.” With its 1,250 year history, Jeonju is one of the oldest cities in Korea, so you’ll find a lot of great historical sites and architecture here. Back in 900 AD Jeonju was made the capital city of the Baekje Kingdom and it’s currently located in the center of the North Jeolla Province, so it’s not a far stretch to call this city one of the political and cultural centers of Korea.

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jeonju city map

 

TRAVEL COURSE: ONE DAY ITINERARY

1. Jeondong Cathedral

2. Pungnamun Gate

3. Gyeongijeon Shrine

4. Hanok Village (한옥마을) / Bibimbap (비빔밥)

5. Deokjin Park (덕진공원)

6. Seoshin Makgeolli Street (서신 막걸리 타운)

 

Getting to Jeonju is easy, you can take the train or the express bus from Seoul. The buses from Seoul to Jeonju run every 10-20 minutes from 5:30am to midnight. It costs 12,600 won for a 일반/regular ticket, and 18,400 for the 우등/first class ticket. The trip will take about 2 hours and 50 minutes, and usually the drivers will go for a ten minute pit stop.If you’re in any other city, just take the equivalent of your city’s express bus system and you’ll arrive at the same place in Jeonju. 

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Once you arrive at the Jeonju Express Bus Terminal, your first stop should be the tourist information center located right outside the building. Pick up a tourist pamphlet which includes a map and some information on all the main tourist attractions.

DSC02096From there take the local bus to the Hanok Village. The local bus station is located right outside the Express Bus Terminal and you’ll be looking for either bus number 5-1 or 79. It’s only about six stops away and you’ll be getting off at the Jeongdong Cathedral/Hanok Village station.

The next four places of interest are all within walking distance from here.

The Jeondong Catholic Church  전동성당 was built in honor of Roman Catholic martyrs from the Joseon Dynasty and was built in 1914. It’s got a combination of Byzantine and Romanesque style and was the backdrop of several Korean dramas and movies, most notably the 1998 movie <약속>. You can’t enter the cathedral, except for during service hours, however, you can peak in and take photos. It was designed by Priest Poinel, who also designed the famous Myeongdong Cathedral in Seoul.

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cathedral

<Image Source: North Jeolla Provine Tourism>

Jeondong Cathedral Admission Fee: free

Operating Hours: 24 hours

Average Viewing Time: 10-20 minutes

Across the street is Pungnammun Gate which was built in 1768. Jeonju was once surrounded by a wall, just like Seoul, and there were guarded gates that you had to go through to enter the city. Of the four original gates surrounding the city, this is the only one left.

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Pungnamun Gate Admission Fee: free

Operating Hours: 24 hours

Average Viewing Time: 10-20 minutes

Now cross the street back towards the Cathedral, but to the north, you’ll find Gyeonggijeon Shrine (경기전). Jeonju is often referted to as the birthplace of the Joseon Dynasty because of King Taejo of Jeonju’s Yi clan, who became the first in the royal Yi bloodline of the Joseon Dynasty. This shrine was erected in 1410 and it holds the portrait of King Taejo. You’ll also find portraits of other kings here on display, as well as a museum.

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shrine

<Image Source: North Jeolla Province Tourism>

Gyeonggijeon Shrine Admission Fee: 1,000 won / adult

Operating Hours: 9am – 6pm (Summer) 9am – 5pm (Winter)

Average Viewing Time: 45-60 minutes

Now walk east, and take your time exploring the rest of the Hanok Village. This village was built during the 1930s as a reaction to the expanding Japanese influence in the city. There are over 800 traditional Korean hanok homes here. If you plan to stay overnight, you can find some traditional hanoks to stay at here. They tend to start at 60,000-80,000 won but often go much higher.

You can also find restaurants here to try some of that famous Jeonju bibimbap (비빔밥) for lunch. Because Jeonju is located on the heart of the Honam plain, it’s go lots of fertile farmland for growing all the ingredients for bibimbap.

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Bibimbap Average Cost: 10,000-15,000 won

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village

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Jeonju Hanok Village Admission Fee: free

Average Viewing Time: 2-3 hours

After you’ve spent a couple hours exploring take a bus or a cab to Deokjin Park (덕진공원). Deokjin Park is centered around a natural pond and is known of its lotus flowers. The flowers bloom in June/July, and unfortunately, I went in March, but it was still nice to take a walk there.

 

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Deokjin Park Admission Fee: free

Operating Hours: 24 hours

Average Viewing Time: 45 minutes

For dinner check out one of the several Makgeoli Districts in Jeonju. If you plan to stay at a motel near the express bus terminal or if you plan to take a bus later that night, I suggest you go to the Seojin Makgeolli Street because it’s located closest to it. Generally for the Makgeolli restaurants in Jeonju, you will order one round of Makgeolli which averages around 20,000 won and comes with various side dishes. Additional rounds of makgeolli are 15,000 won and you will get a different set of dishes with that. I highly recommend Yetchon Makgeolli (예촌막걸리)

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 Round One: 20,000 won

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Round Two: 15,000 won

After dinner head back toward the Express Bus Terminal where you can catch one of the late night buses back to Seoul. The last bus leaves at midnight, or you can stay at one of the many motels located in that area. (40,000-50,000 won/night) If you decide to stay for another day, some places I recommend that you check out are the Jeonju Hanji Museum and the World Cup Stadium, or you can check out some of the neighboring areas in the North Jeolla Province.

Relevant Links

http://frugaltraveler.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/20/a-south-korean-city-full-of-food-history-and-bargains/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

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