This episode will feature Namwon, the City of Love. It’s the hometown of Sung Chunhyang 성춘향 who is the heroine of the famous pansori love story, The Legend of Chunhyang 춘향전. In early May, the city hosts a Chunhyang festival, so that’s a good time to visit, but it’s fine to visit at any other time of the year as well.
TRAVEL COURSE: ONE DAY ITINERARY
1. Gwanghalluwon Garden 관한루원
2. Loach Soup Lunch 추어탕
3. Chunhyang Theme Park 춘향테마파크
4. Korean Traditional Music Holy Ground 국악의 성지
5. Grilled Black Pork Dinner 흑돼지
You can get to Namwon by either bus or train. There are 11 trains per day and the trip takes around 4 hours or 2.5 hours by KTX from Seoul. The express bus runs 15 times a day and takes 3 hours and 10 minutes. I suggest you take the bus, so it’s the most time/cost efficient.
From the bus terminal, you can walk along the Yochoen River 유천 for about 20 minutes until you get to Gwanghalluwon Garden 관한루원which is one of the most famous gardens in Korea. It was apparently so beautiful that in 1444, Governor Jeong In-ji named the place after a legendary palace on the moon. The garden contains the pavilion where Lee Mong-ryung 이몽령 first saw Sung Chunhyang 성춘향. There’s also a shrine dedicated to her, an art exhibit, and a recreation of the heroine’s home. The main bridge inside the garden is called Ojakgyo (오작교) and it’s a representation of a famous bridge of magpies that reunited two lovers in a different folktale (옥황상제 막내딸 설화). If you walk across it with someone you like, then you two will live happily ever after.
Gwanghalluwon Garden Admission Fee: 2,500 won / adults
Operating Hours: 8am – 8pm
Contact Information: (063) 620 -8902 gwanghallu.or.kr
Average Viewing Time: 1-1.5 hours
Inside the garden, there is an information booth with pamphlets on the famous Loach Soup 추어탕. It’ll give you the directions to several restaurants and you can also watch a video here about how the soup is made. There is a loach street full of restaurants that goes through both sides of the main entrance of the garden, so check it out for lunch if your stomach can handle it.
After lunch, you can walk back down the river for about 15 minutes to get to the Chunhyang Theme Park 춘향테마파크, which contains several buildings and exhibitions related to the famous legend of Chunhyang.
Chunhyang Theme Park Admission Fee: 3,000 won / adults
Operating Hours: 9am – 10pm (Apr-Oct) / 9am-9pm (Nov-Mar)
Contact Information: (063) 620 -6180 namwontheme.or.kr
Average Viewing Time: 1-1.5 hours
If you have time check out the Korean Traditional Music Holy Ground 국악의 성지. It’s a bit far away from the downtown area, so you’ll have to plan your schedule carefully. Because Namwon is known for it’s traditional music 국악, particularly for pansori 판소리, this is worth checking out.
Korean Traditional Music Holy Ground: free
Operating Hours: 9am – 6pm / Closed Mondays
Contact Information: (063) 620 -6180 gukak.namwon.go.kr
For dinner you can find restaurants throughout the downtown area of the city that serve Black Pork 통종 흑대지. The pork comes from black pigs raised from nearby areas and has a bit more of a tender texture compared to regular pork.
At night, take a walk along the Yocheon River 유천 and check out some of the city lights. You can also go for a late night walk at the Gwahalluwon Garden which is open for free between 6pm and 8pm during the spring/summer. If that doesn’t interest you, head back up to Seoul or if you want to stay overnight and continue your trip, I suggest heading to nearby Jeonju City.