Jeonju is one of Korea’s major tourist cities, drawing in both locals and international visitors with its charm. The city has plenty to see, from the ever-popular Jeonju Hanok Village to the hidden attractions of Gaengnidan-gil Road and Wansan Park. However, if you’ve been once, a repeat visit might not sound that interesting. To spice things up, break away from the typical tour course. Trade the standard bibimbap and photos at Jeondong Catholic Cathedral with a trip around Jeonju the Korean way!
The first stop on any Jeonju trip, first-time or repeat, is renting a hanbok for the day! The village is filled to the brim with hanbok rental shops. While most shops in Seoul only offer traditional style hanbok, Jeonju goes beyond this to include shorter hanbok like those worn by popular girl idol groups, and the currently trending 1930’s clothing, made popular by the K-drama “Mr. Sunshine (2018).” After deciding on your choice of clothing, the staff will happily style your hair and help you pick out the perfect accessories for a complete look.
As the saying goes, it can be hard to “see the forest for the trees” when you’re in the middle of the village. To get a bird’s-eye view, head toward Omokdae Pavilion, located on a hill at the opposite end of the village from Gyeonggijeon Shrine. You won’t be able to see much from the top of the hill, but the wooden boardwalk provides some stunning views of the hanok rooftops on the way. You’ll feel miles away from the hustle and bustle of the typical tourists snapping photos and buying snacks on the streets below. If you’re looking for a bit of exercise, head all the way up to Omokdae Pavilion and take a break in the shade or snap your own photo before heading to the next destination.
Wansan Park is the newest star in Jeonju, gaining attraction through social media! In particular, people come in spring to see the many flowers, including a tunnel of donarium cherry blossoms, tree-like royal azalea bushes, and paths lined with zinnias. The park was originally the private land of a local, Mr. Kim, who planted the many trees and bushes over a 40-year period. However, he decided to donate the land to the city of Jeonju after seeing how happy a grandmother and her grandson were when visiting. Thanks to Mr. Kim’s generous offer, the beautiful hillside park is open to all visitors for free!
If you come to Jeonju, the city of flavors, trying everything is a must! Almost every visitor will have tried the famous Jeonju bibimbap, kongnamul gukbap (rice soup with soybean sprouts), and sweet chocopies. For something new, try mulgalbi, a spicy soup of spareribs cooked with glass noodles and soybean sprouts. Additional servings of glass noodles, ramyeon noodles, or mandu (dumplings) can be added for a fuller meal. The most popular mulgalbi restaurant in Jeonju is Namno Mulgalbi, located just outside of Jeonju Hanok Village.
There are movie theaters all over the nation, so what makes a trip to Jeonju Cine Complex so special? The theater here shows indie films from around the world, and is one of the locations for the annual Jeonju International Film Festival. If you’re very interested in cinema, you’ll definitely want to check out the resource room on the first floor, complete with DVDs of hundreds of indie and art films, books, and more. It costs just 1,000 won to use the resource room, which is open 12:00-20:00.
The next spot to feel like a Korean traveler is Jeonju Nambu Traditional Market, located just across the road from the Hanok Village. When it comes to markets, you might be thinking, “you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all!” At first glance, that seems to apply here, but if you head up to the second floor, you’ll realize how wrong first impressions can be. The second floor is decorated in bright colors with small shops, all operated by young entrepreneurs. Called Cheongnyeon Mall, meaning Youth Mall in Korean, the shops sell everything from stationery and books to clothing and accessories. There are also some tasty restaurants if you visit on an empty stomach.
To finish up a Korean-style trip to Jeonju, you have to visit Gaengnidan-gil Road! Based off Gyeongnidan-gil Road in Itaewon, Gaengnidan-gil Road gets its name from its location near the gaeksa, an old guesthouse for government officials in the Goryeo and Joseon periods. Although smaller in size, Gaengnidan-gil still offers over 30 uniquely operated cafés, restaurants, and clothing stores along the alleyways that make up the street. Take photos with the props in a café or relax with a good book and a cup of strong coffee.
* This column was last updated in April 2019, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check details before visiting.