Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Jeonju: Rich Culture

Jeonju is a capital city of North Jeolla Province. It is an important tourist center famous for Korean food, historic buildings, sports activities and innovative festivals.
Located in the fertile Honam plain, famous for strawberries and exceptional produce, Jeonju has been an important regional center in the province for centuries. Once, the city was the capital of Hubaekje Kingdom, which was founded by Gyeon Hwon. The city was regarded as the spiritual capital of the Joseon Dynasty because the Yi royal family originated there.
Jeonju was given metropolitan status in 1935, and the city was founded in 1949. In May 2012, Jeonju was chosen as a Creative Cities for Gastronomy as part of UNESCO's Creative Cities Network. This honor recognize the city's traditional home cooking handed down through generations over thousands of years, its active public and private food research, a system of nurturing talented chefs, and its hosting of distinctive local food festivals.
Korea’s most famous international dish Bibimbap, originated in Jeonju. There are many hypotheses regarding the origins of the bibimbap; from the royal table, a ritual food, the Donghak revolution, a farming season food or royal flight during war time; but the most reliable of these is the royal table origination.
It was first served at the royal table but was then passed down and spread amongst the lower classes. According to records, people started to eat bibimbap in Jeonju two hundred years ago. Jeonju bibimbap owes its popularity to perfectly steamed rice topped with freshly-cut vegetables (10 different ingredients in Jeonju) combined with the excellent cooking skills of the local women.
Also, Kongnamul Kukbap (bean sprout soup) is a well-known remedy for hang-overs while the Jeonju Table d’hote is the true and genuine highlight of Jeolla-do cuisine.
However, Jeonju is a must-visit destination, not just for the tasty food, but also the many treasures including a Traditional Korean village. It is recommended that tourists visiting Jeonju, begin at this unique village. The village area includes a traditional hot spring and is surrounded by many popular tourist spots. This is a must-see for foreign tourists.
Other cultural gems include Pungnammun Gate, Jeonju Confucian School, Jeonju Traditional Life Experience Park, Jeonju Traditional Craftworks Exhibition Hall, Jeonju Treasures Center, Gangam Calligraphy Museum, Jeonju Traditional Culture Center, and Jeondong Cathedral, well known in Korean Catholic history. In addition, the Jeonju Traditional Culture Center gives visitors the unique experience of life in a traditional Korean house, known as 'Hanok' in Korean. The Jeonju Hanok Living Experience Center also gives visitors traditional style accommodations in a comfortable setting. This is a great experience for foreigners.
Aside from the Hanok Living Experience Center, there are many other great places to visit, such as the Pan Asia Paper Museum, Jeonju World Cup Stadium, and Deokjin Park. Deokjin Park delights visitors in July and August with Lotus flower plants reaching heights of several feet high. If you have additional time, try visiting the nearby cities of Namwon, Muju, Jinan, and Jeongeup. During the autumn months, the Jeongeup mountain area is beautiful with its incredible fall foliage.
The spirit of Jeonju can be found in its lively festivals. Some of these festivals include the Jeonju International Film Festival, Jeonju Daesaseupnori, Jeonju Sori Music Festival, World Calligraphy Biennale of Chonbuk, Jeon Pungnam Festival and Jeonju Paper Culture Festival which highlights some of Jeonju's most celebrated items including traditionally made Korean paper, fans and igang wine.
Jeonju is a major transportation hub, so getting there doesn’t present much of a problem. The quickest way is to take the KTX from Seoul’s Yongsan Station to Iksan, and transfer to another train to Jeonju. The trip takes about 2 hours, 30 minutes in total. There are cheaper trains that go directly to Jeonju from Yongsan, but they’re much slower and they tend to fill up on the weekends.
Check out more information at