A September 2002 trip
to Jeonju by michaelhudson
Quote: Jeonju may be one of the smallest of Korea's provincial capitals but it retains its major place in the nation's history as the hometown of Yi Song-gye, the first King of the 500-year long Joseon Dynasty.
Bus journeys are best saved for journeys to the outskirts of the city and beyond. The World Cup Stadium, Moaksan Provincial Park, and Jeonju National Museum fit into this category.
Once inside things look distinctly better. Rates are very reasonable (25000 won for a single, 30000 for a double), while the rooms themselves are clean and surprisingly well equipped.
My room, which measured approximately 4 x 6 metres not accounting for the adjoining bathroom, had a large wardrobe, a phone, air conditioning, two comfortable chairs, a water dispenser (hot and cold-a real rarity!), cups and sachets of coffee. The TV was hooked up to cable with BBC World, a movie channel and Korea's Arirang TV offering English language programming.
In the bathroom, aside from the free toothbrush, shampoo and toothpaste, a decent shower overlooked a slightly wobbly bathtub. By far the most memorable aspect of the room, however, were the large mirrors that seemed to cover every available bit of wall space.
The Dong-baek, though not the easiest place to find, is very conveniently situated minutes away from the prime sights in the city. To get there, take the street running between the Gaeksa and the Seoul Bank building and take your second left (at Paris Baguette). Follow this street past Pizza Hut and the 21 Cine multiplex. The yeogwan is on the right just past the car park.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on September 26, 2002
Dong-baek Jang Yeogwan
Jeonju, South Korea
Built in 1410 to enshrine a portrait of Yi Seong-gye, the local born founder of the Yi or Joseon Dynasty, Gyeonggijeon Shrine rivals the Gaeksa as the most impressive of Jeonju’s historical monuments. The entrance is directly opposite Jeon-dong, marked by a painted main gate and a small tourist information booth. The main structures, whilst not particularly impressive in themselves, are set in the middle of walled grounds full of pine and bamboo trees, dusty paths leading through overhanging branches and aged wooden doors. Yi’s portrait is sited in a rear building, typically full-length with austere facial features and subdued colours, occupying the centre of a three sided building lined with portraits of some of his more renowned successors – Sejong, Yeongjo, Gojong and Jeongjo – and a number of original palanquins used in official ceremonies, such as the carrying of the portraits to the shrine.
To the right of the central shrine area a raised wooden building known as the Jeonju Sago holds historical archives detailing the administrative affairs of the king. A little further towards the external stone wall, close to a thick corner of bamboo, a stupa and stele hold placenta from the birth of King Yejong.
Leaving Gyeonggijeon, turn left and follow the road up to the Traditional Crafts Exhibition Centre, which sells a number of handmade products such as the famous Jeonju folded fans, Mulberry paper and calligraphy brushes. Continue on until you reach a T-junction, then follow the uphill path to the top, where a small road branches off to the right and Omokdae Pavilion, an historic site where King Mokjo once fought a tiger and Yi Seong-gye held a banquet to celebrate his victory over Japanese troops twelve years before he seized the throne. The views from here promise much but the tree cover obscures most of the traditional housing zone located below, meaning you can skip the whole thing with no real sense of loss. Of more interest is the Hynaggyo, a 17th century Confucian Academy hidden away to the right of the main road (walk under the footbridge and take the path that drops down to the right about 100 metres further on). From here you can loop back round past the Traditional Culture Centre and Calligraphy Museum to the rear of the cathedral.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 12, 2004
Jeonju Cultural District
Jeonju, South Korea
From Jeonju, take the 79-1 bus, which stops at both bus stations before continuing down Paldallo Street, where it stops outside the branch of KFC next to the Korea Exchange Bank, before continuing down to Pungnammun Gate and Nambu Market, packed even at 8 on a Sunday morning. Terminating at the entrance to the park, the journey takes about half an hour and costs 950 won.
It’s a fifteen minute walk to Geumsansa from the bus stop, past the park entrance (2600 won) and a car park lined with souvenir stands. Entering the temple courtyard by means of a short flight of stairs look to the right for Korea’s only three storey wooden hall, Mireukjeon. Open to the top roof on the inside, the hall is almost entirely filled by three statues – the central future Buddha, Maitreya, rising almost to the very top of the building at nearly 12 metres high. Attendants stand on either side, slightly smaller but no less beautiful.
To the left of Mireukjeon a seven storey pagoda encircled by intricate miniature figures stands at the top of another flight of steps, looking back over the courtyard towards the entrance. Directly opposite Mireukjeon the front doors of the smaller Daejang-jeon are reputed to be 1,200 years old, while a short distance to the right the elongated Daejeokgwanjeon, which houses ten golden statues along its central altar, has been meticulously restored since being destroyed in a 1986 fire.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 13, 2004
Moaksan Provincial Park
Jeonju, South Korea
Deok-jin Kongwon is the best public park in the city. Centred on a huge lotus pond that once formed part of an ancient protective moat, the park contains a musical fountain, a small waterfall and statues of local luminaries. Two metal suspension bridges bounce over the lotus flowers, meeting at a viewing platform in the middle, while a winding wooden walkway cuts through a corner of the pond, the flowers so close you’re almost lost in the midst of them. The park is located near Jeonbuk National University in the north of the town, a ten-minute walk or a basic taxi fare from either of the bus stations.
Belying its mundane location on a main road opposite the Jeonbuk Ilbo building, the Hangookgwan restaurant is one of the best restaurants in the city. While there are other things on the menu the main reason to come here is to try their renowned Jeonju Bibimbap, which comes in two varieties at a price of seven or ten thousand won. Following a starter of bean sprout soup, the hot stone pot is brought directly to the table, fizzing and bubbling with heat. A large dollop of hot chili sauce covers a still frying egg on top of a bed of rice, seasonal vegetables and marinated slices of beef. The accompanying side dishes - all of which are replaced free of charge the instant you finish them - include miniature pancakes, two types of Gimchi, and an assortment of vegetables, with traditional cinnamon tea for dessert. Don’t miss it.
The city’s newest tourist attraction is the World Cup stadium, home of the K-League team the Jeonbuk Motors and located 9km north of the city centre and best reached by bus. The 154, 29-1, 46-1, 87-1, 229 and 5-1 all run to the stadium; the 46-1 stops directly in front of the Jeonbuk Ilbo building opposite the Hangookgwan.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 13, 2004
The Best of the Rest
In and around central Jeonju
Jeonju, South Korea
Jarrow, Tyne & Wear, United Kingdom