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Slow City print

In Damyang, an area famous for its bamboo trees, is a village called Samjicheon, which was designated as a “Slow City” in 2008. Prior to its designation, Samjicheon, a small village with little over 500 residents, was easily overlooked by tourists visiting the Damyang area. This charming rural village contains well-preserved traditional hanok houses and 3.6km of stonewalls that meander around the town.

Of the original hanok houses, the most famous ones are those owned by the Go family of the Changpyeong region, and have been handed down through the family for generations. The Go houses, which have been designated as important cultural assets and are now protected by the government, offer a glimpse of Korea’s fascinating past. Despite its small size, Samjicheon village is well-known in Korea for its tasty local delicacies, such as the Changpyeong taffies, hangwa sweets, soybean paste (doenjang), red pepper paste (gochujang), and others. These are all made from natural ingredients and prepared in the traditional way.

Samjicheon village is located close to the Korea Bamboo Museum, the Jungnogwon and Soswaewon gardens, and Sigyeongjeong pavilion, which are all good places for a relaxing stroll while enjoying the subtle scent of bamboo in the fresh air. Damyang region has also been the location for several famous films and TV drama series including <Traces of Love>, <Wanee and Junah>, <Sword in the Moon>, <Daejanggeum, Jewel in the Palace>, <Summer Scent>, <Damo>, <Winter Sonata>.
Local Specialties

One Samjicheon’s most popular local specialties include rice-based taffies, most of which are made in the town’s small households or shops in the traditional way.  Rice syrup is first melted over a wood fire in a huge pot and then carefully made into individual taffies by hand. Visitors will get a chance to see how the local taffies are made, which is part of the fun of enjoying yeot (taffy).  

Samjicheon also produces a local version of hangwa, the Korean traditional sweet, from the rich crops of the Damyang region. Hangwa is made using rice, beans, sesame, and other ingredients that are all mixed with jocheong (grain syrup).  The sweets are crisp on the outside yet sweet and chewy in the center.  These hangwa sweets are often packed in beautiful boxes that are made from hanji (traditional paper), bamboo, or wood. Prices can vary widely depending on the quality and type of the packaging and sweets.

Nearby Attractions
Samjicheon Village

From the entrance to the village, follow the stone-piled, ivy-covered walls until you reach some of the finest examples of original hanok houses. If the weather is fine, you can spend a tranquil afternoon strolling around this village.

Make sure to look for the hanok houses of the Go Family, who have been living in this village for many generations. For a really special experience, you could spend a night in a hanok guesthouse, and there are plenty of other types of accommodation on offer in this charming village. Visitors can also watch, or even take part in dying fabric, which in Samjicheon village is still done by hand in the traditional way.

Address: Samcheon-ri, Changpyeong-myeon, Damyang-gun, Jeollanam-do province
Information: +82-61-383-7877
Tourist Information: +82-61-1330 (KOR, ENG, JAP, CHI)
Getting There: From Seoul take a train to Gwangju-> From Gwangju Train Station take bus 303-> Get off at Changpyeong Police Station and walk to the village. Or take the bus to Damyang Inter-city Bus Terminal and then take a regional bus or taxi to the Samjicheon village.

Bamboo Museum

The Bamboo Museum is a multi-functional complex that preserves, exhibits, and produces bamboos and Damyang’s unique bamboo art. The museum has five exhibition halls and a collection of approximately 2,600 pieces of bamboo art and various bamboo products, all of which are on display. The bamboo arts of Damyang have a history of 500 years, dating back to the early Joseon Dynasty. Some 500,000 guests visit this museum every year.

Visitors can watch three masters of bamboo craft at work in the Intangible Cultural Asset Training Center, as well as having a go at making bamboo products themselves. There is also a garden, where visitors can try out the swings made of bamboo branches, walk across a bamboo bridge, and go through a bamboo. Visiting the museum is also a good opportunity to purchase quality bamboo products at reasonable prices.

For More Details on the Bamboo Museum

Metasequoia Road

Metasequoia Road is one of the Damyang region’s most scenic spots and actually is regarded as one of the most beautiful roads in Korea. The road, which stretches for 8.5km, is lined with metasequoia trees, which can get up to 20m tall. It is one of the most popular driving routes in Korea, however, some people prefer to bicycle along this route and appreciate its beauty at a more leisurely pace. These elegant trees make you feel like you are driving through an ancient forest, and they provide welcome shade even on the hottest days.

The road appears in the movie, <Traces of Love>, and it was also the setting for numerous TV commercials and dramas.   

Junknokwon Garden (Bamboo Garden)

Junknokwon garden contains a spectacular dense bamboo forest that covers an area of approximately 160,000㎡. The garden, which opened in May 2003, has various walking paths (around 2.2km in length) that wind their way through the bamboo forest.

These walking paths each have a distinct theme. The walking paths begin at the Junknokwon observatory tower, which offers a panoramic view over Damyangcheon Lake, the Damyang Gwanbangje forest, where the trees are 300 years old, and the tree-lined Metasequoia Road. Inside Jungnogwon garden, there is an ecological exhibition center, featuring waterfalls, ponds, and outdoor stages.  The subtle lighting along the bamboo groves means visitors can enjoy a romantic stroll in the evenings.

Daenamugol Theme Park

The Daenamugol Theme Park contains bamboos that are at least 30 years old. It’s an area of great scenic beauty, and is a popular destination for a camping trip. The park covers approximately 99,173㎡, and contains outdoor camping sites, bamboo and pine forests, and gardens and lotus ponds that are decorated with brightly colored seasonal flowers.

The theme park has appeared in movies like <The Last Witness>, <Sword in the Moon>, and <Blue Swallow> as well as in the popular TV drama series <Summer Scent>. Take your time strolling around this peaceful garden, and admire the elegant bamboo trees, which are one of Asia’s treasures.

Soswaewon Garden

Soswaewon Garden has been designated as one of the top three most beautiful gardens in Korea. It was created by a Joseon period Confucian scholar called Yang San-bo. It was formed using only natural materials and paying attention to the contours of nature. Following its creation, the garden was visited by many scholars who were so inspired by its beauty that they were moved to write poetry or other works of literature.

Visitors are enchanted by the dense green forest, deep valleys, and old pavilions. Low stonewalls wind their way through the trees, and visitors can enjoy a contemplative walk in this exquisite garden. After exploring Soswaewon, you will find a small, quiet village just outside the garden. Next to the garden, visitors will also find the National Museum of Literature, which displays those works of literature that were inspired by the garden’s beauty.

For More Details on Soswaewon Garden

Sigyeongjeong Pavilion

This small pavilion that dates back to 1560, is nestled on the hill next to the National Literature Museum. The hill overlooks a stream that meanders through the city of Damyang. The pavilion has a rather poetic name, it means the place where even the shadow wants to take a rest. This lovely pavilion is surrounded by zinnia trees.
Sitting on the wooden floor of this pavilion, watching the water of the Gwangjucheon stream flow by, you might be inspired to compose a couple of poems yourself.
 This is always a pleasant spot to visit, but it is particularly beautiful during the summer, when the zinnia flowers are in full bloom.

Local Festivals
Damyang Bamboo Festival

The Damyang Bamboo Festival began in 1999 and is held every year in May. The festival is inspired by the traditions of the Goryeo period, when during spring time all of the residents of the village were enlisted to plant bamboos on the mountain. 

During the festival period, all sorts of items made from bamboo are on display, including household items, musical instruments, decorations, and more. There are plenty of exciting activities for visitors to try out, such as a bamboo fencing contest, bamboo log raft riding,bamboo water pistol fights over stepping stone bridges, bamboo archery, and catching fish with bamboo baskets.

Bamboo had a variety of uses in Korea’s past and visitors can try making traditional Korean wine in bamboo caskets and making hand-held fans and other accessories that use bamboo.

The festival will feature plenty of entertainment; a number of concerts and mime performances are planned, as well as exhibitions of bamboo products, giving visitors an insight into Damyang’s unique culture.  

For More Details on the Festival

Recommended Local Delicacies
While in Damyang, make sure you try tteokgalbi, juktongbab and juksunhoe (slightly boiled bamboo shoots, which are eaten as a side dish). Tteokgalbi is a delicious marinated beef dish that used to be eaten at the Korean Royal Court and there are dozens of restaurants in this area that specialize in this dish.

Tteokgalbi is made by mincing beef ribs carefully, then they are marinated and grilled over charcoal. They are succulent and chewy and quite addictive. Restaurants for this delicacy are clustered around the Bamboo Museum and the traditional marketplace.  Juktongbap, which is also called daetongbab, is rice, bamboo shoots and other vegetables, which are actually steamed in the hollow of a bamboo, this unique dish is a specialty of the region.
Getting to Damyang
By Train

From Yongsan Train Station in Seoul take the train to Gwangju (06:05-23:10; trains run 17 times a day, Mugunghwa (second class) train: 21,400won / 4hr 20mins, Saemaeul (first class) train: 31,700won / 4hr 10min, KTX (express) train: 35,900won / 3hr)
-> From Gwangju Train Station take a bus to Damyang (06:00-22:30, departs every 10mins, 40min bus ride)

By Bus

From Seoul Express Bus Terminal (Central City) take an express bus to Damyang (10:10, 16:10, buses run twice a day, 3hr 45min ride, Normal bus fare 16,200won, Deluxe Bus Fare 24,000won)

Getting to Samjicheon Village

From Gwangju Train Station, get on bus 303 ->
Get off at Changpyeong Police Station and walk to the village. Or take the bus to Damyang Inter-city Bus Terminal and then take a regional bus or taxi to the Samjicheon village.

Travel Tips
Operation Hours: Every Saturday and Sunday at 10am
Departure Point: Gwangju Train Station Square
Duration: 6hr 30mins
Fee: 17,000won (Lunch is provided, admission fees included)
Inquiriess: +82 61 380 3154 (Damyang City Tour)
Tourist Information Line: +82-61-1330

English tour guide:  Please call in advance to request an English tour guide.

<Tour Program>
First and Third Saturday: Leave Gwangju Train Station -> Jungnogwon garden -> Gwangbangje forest-> Metasequoia Road-> lunch-> Bamboo Museum-> Gamagol Ecological Park-> Activity program: making hand-made dye -> return to Gwangju Train Station
Second and Fourth Saturday: Leave Gwangju Train Station-> Soswewon Garden-> Korean Literature Museum-> lunch-> Jungnokwon garden -> Samjicheon Village-> activity program: making Korean sweets (hangwa, ssalyeot) -> return to Gwangju Train Station

<Train Station>
First and Third Sunday
: Departure from Gwangju Train Station -> Samjicheon
Village-> activity program: making soy bean paste -> lunch-> MonghangakHall -> activity program: making wild flower pots -> Jungnogwon garden -> return to Gwangju Train Station

Second & Fourth Sunday: leave Gwangju Train Station -> Activity program: Tea Ceremony -> Myeonangjeong Pavillion-> lunch -> Myeongokheon garden->
Soswaewon -> Korean Literature Museum-> Sigyeongjeong -> Return to Gwangju Train Station

※ Tour conducted in Korean, but it can still be enjoyed by non-Korean speakers.

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