Jeonju, City of Gastronomy, is full of tasty dishes that Korea has to offer. From famous Jeonju bibimbap to street foods in Jeonju Hanok Village, get ready to fill your belly with delicious meals. While in a small port city of Gunsan, spicy dishes like gochu jjamppong (spicy seafood noodle soup with chili peppers) and gochu jjajangmyeon (noodles in black bean sauce with chili peppers) await you. Follow us as we take you on a tasty road tour to Jeonju and Gunsan.
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Various types of train make stops at Jeonju Station, including KTX, ITX-Saemaeul, Mugunghwa, and the S-train. Train station in a traditional hanok-style building shows what Jeonju is famous for. Visitors can get to the downtown area from Jeonju Station by a local bus or a taxi. Welcoming visitors from the exit of the station is “Jeonju’s Welcome Road,” the road that stretches for 850 meters to Myeongjugol Intersection.
First opened in 1912, Gunsan Station was relocated on January 1, 2008, when Janghang Line extended its line. In 2015, the line also added West Gold Train and G-Train, extending services to Seoul and metropolitan areas. The G-Train begins from Yongsan Station and makes stops at several stations, including Gunsan Station, with its final stop at Iksan Station. Other operating trains include Saemaeul and Mugunghwa trains. Public transportation from Gunsan Station includes intercity and local buses that take visitors to major tourist attractions and nearby cities, including Jeonju and Iksan.
As one of tourists’ most favorite cities in Korea, Jeonju offers even more fun in October with the Jeonju Bibimbap Festival. The festival is held around Jeonjuhyanggyo Confucian School in Jeonju Hanok Village, offering visitors a taste at various types of bibimbap as well as other special dishes. Held for four days from October 9-12, don’t miss Jeonju’s representative festival this year.
Out of all the variations of bibimbap that represent Korea, Jeonju bibimbap is the most popular among foreigners. Before you order, here’s a few helpful information about bibimbap.
Q. Can vegans eat bibimbap?
A. Yes. Bibimbap consists of various vegetables with an addition of meat for a healthy meal. Jeonju bibimbap’s main ingredient is rice cooked with bean sprouts (one of the Ten Flavors of Jeonju) with various vegetables and nuts that change by season, making it a perfect meal for vegans. The ingredients vary largely by restaurant, so be sure to ask the server to remove any ingredients you don’t want on your bibimbap upon making your order.
* Ten Flavors of Jeonju: Young radish from Girinbong Mountain; hwangpomuk (yellow mung bean jelly) from Gyo-dong; Korean summer squash from Sinpung-ri; persimmon from Seonanggol Valley; cigarettes from Soyang; white radish from Samnye; crab from Hannae; Goby minnow from Hannae and Namcheon Stream; water parsley from Seonneomeo; and bean sprouts from Gyo-dong.
Q. Do we need to mix the rice with a spoon?
A. Depends on the way the rice is cooked. If the rice is cooked using beef bone broth, then using a spoon is better. For all other kinds of rice, using chopsticks to mix the vegetables and rice works better. If you try to mix regular bibimbap with a spoon, the result might not be satisfying due to the chunks of vegetables in between crushed rice.
Q. I worry that the gochujang (hot chili paste) will be too spicy.
A. Many restaurants in Jeonju use gochujang made with local ingredients for Korea’s distinct spicy flavor. While some restaurants serve bibimbap topped with gochujang, you can ask the server to prepare and serve the paste separately upon making your order so that you can control the spiciness.
Another charm of Jeonju Hanok Village is the street food vendors that are lined along the streets. With so many varieties, some say your trip to Jeonju might start and end here if you try to taste all of them. Once you enter the main street of the hanok village, you will notice street stalls ranging from Jeonju-style original choco pie to shrimp dumplings, chicken skewers, slushy, hotteok (sugar-filled griddlecakes), fruit beers and more. Most stores accept credit card for the convenience of the visitors.
Gilgeoriya, one of the original street stalls in Jeonju Hanok Village, is known for baguette burgers. Unlike regular baguettes, the baguette burger is filled with chopped peppers, lettuce, mayonnaise, ketchup and other ingredients for a delicious flavor. Octopus skewers are another steady-seller. With mild and spicy sauce options to choose from, the chewy octopus skewer is sold for 4,000 won per piece. Another food not to be missed is the grilled Imsil cheese, sold at 3,000 won. The grilled cheese goes well with various topping options, such as condensed milk, chili, mango, chocolate, and yogurt.
Gunsan Gyeongam-dong Railroad Village is filled with stories of modern history. In 1944, the 2.5-kilometer railway connected Paper Korea factory with Gunsan Station. After the railroad was discontinued in July 2008, it was transformed into a cute mural village along the railway and became one of the most popular attractions in Gunsan. There are many activities to enjoy at the railroad village, including trying on old school uniforms, making dalgona (Korean sugar and baking soda candy), and taking photos at various photo spots.
Foods that are a must-try when visiting Gunsan are none other than jjamppong and jjajangmyeon. As Gunsan is a port city, plenty of fresh seafood are added to these Korean-style Chinese dishes. Jirinseong, a popular restaurant specializing in both menus, is the place to go to experience the spicy and savory combination. For those who are into spicy food, gochu jjamppong offers stronger and bolder flavors with Korean hot chili pepper and seafood, such as mussels, cockles, and squid, added to the soup. For those who want something milder, regular jjamppong and jjajangmyeon are also available. Since the restaurant has a long line of people all day long, be sure to visit in the morning to beat the crowd. The city of Gunsan is also planning to make a special street dedicated to jjamppong in the near future.
* This column was last updated in September 2019, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check details before visiting.