Destination: Jeonju, part 1 (Jeonju, Jeollabuk-do)
Jeonju has just enough to offer for a full weekend – not so much that you feel overwhelmed, but enough that you like you saw it all. There’s enough variety in the sights, enough walking, and enough places to take pictures for your friends back home. There’s even a couple of local dishes worth trying. It ain’t perfect, but as a weekend getaway it’s hard to beat.
Our first meal after arriving at Jeonju station: the local version of bibimbap (rice, veggies, and an egg that eventually mixed together once the photos are taken). As a guest poster mentioned, the Jeonju version of bibimbap features fresh bean sprouts and a yellow jelly made from mung beans.
With lunch digesting, a taxi swiftly took us to the main destination for many: the Jeonju Hanok Village (전주한옥마을).
To be perfectly honest, I’m not quite sure what to make of this place. While the 800-strong hanok show off Korean traditional housing quite nicely, so many of them feature shops or restaurants that it’s hard to imagine people actually living inside them. They seem perfectly suited as sales floors, particularly for these exquisite pieces of furniture. Plenty of other souvenirs, including some relatively cheap paper offerings, may make someone’s birthday or holiday that much more interesting.
When you’re ready for the sightseeing, the 1950′s-esque ‘PHOTO SPOT’ signs aim to point your camera in the right direction. There are several throughout the village that we saw; the one above gives this view:
The spring can’t wait to arrive.
While not every hanok was authentically old, they were built along the same lines as the original houses. Some construction in the area revealed a brand-new building – complete with the structures and styles of a centuries-old house. The consolation here is that artificially aging the wood would probably be even more glaringly obvious.
Properly built, they’re likely to be lived in by the owner’s grandchildren – and then some.
While spending an entire day in the Hanok Village is an option, the Lady in Red and I were ready to move on. Plenty of other sights within Jeonju – and quite a few within walking distance. Our next stop, on the outskirts of the Hanok Village, is Gyeonggijeon - a shrine to preserve the portrait of King Taejo (r. 1392-1398).
A 하마비 (下馬碑), or hamabi.This stone tablet in front of the entrance commands horse riders to dismount before entering as a sign of respect.
A hongsalmun (홍살문, 紅箭門) stands as a reminder of royalty; even though the shrine holds a mere portrait of a king, it’s still revered and honored.
After making your way through a couple more gates, the main building holding the eojin (portrait) presents itself. While the furniture is a bit dusty, it’s an interesting glimpse into the styles from the times.
King Taejo himself – replete in his ikseongwan (the crown he would wear while working) and gonryongpo (a royal robe).
The shrine also contains all the buildings necessary to carry out the ceremonies the shrine requires. Everything from a yongsil (the mill) to a seojae (where officials performed purification ceremonies) to this, a subokcheong (where lower-level officials worked to prepare the ceremonies).
Stay tuned for part 2, where we explore a Catholic cathedral, some interesting outdoor art, and an odd-looking Chinatown.
Ratings (out of 5 taeguks): How do I rate destinations?
Ease to arrive:
Worth the visit:
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