An ancient city with a thousand-year-old history, Jeonju offers an untold number of time-honored traditions. Jeonju is home to pansori, a genre of musical storytelling inscribed on UNESCO’s list of 'Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity,' and is known for its hanok homes and hanji paper. The city is also famous for its scumptious cuisine, particularly jeonju bibimbap and hanjeonsik.
Of all the cultural gems of Jeonju, perhaps the most celebrated is the Jeonju Hanok Village. Designated as one of the top places to visit in 2011, the Jeonju Hanok Village encompassees about 700 homes and represents the largest cluster of hanok in Korea. Jeonju has several important cultural assets and facilities like the Gyeonggijeon Shrine, Omokdae Pavilion, and Hyanggyo (Confucian school). Come and embrace the 'slow city' style and immerse yourself in the history and tradition of Jeonju!
Local Food & Specialties
Jeonju Bibimbap (전주비빔밥)
Jeonju bibimbap is a nutiriously balanced meal of warm white rice topped with 30 different ingredients of various colors and flavors. The actual toppings vary by season, but are mostly sautéed and seasoned vegetables, eggs, and nuts. Bibimbap provides carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals all in one dish and is one of the best known Korean foods worldwide.
☞ Bibimbap Recipe
Jeonju Hanjeongsik (전주한정식)
Jeonju Hanjeongsik is the region’s full course meal. It comes with thirty or so dishes carefully prepared with fresh seafood caught from the Yellow Sea, grains grown in the region’s vast and fertile farmland, and various vegetables and herbs straight from the mountainsides. In short, Jeonju Hanjeongsik represents the bountiful harvest that the region enjoys, the generosity of its people, and its deep culinary culture.
Jeonju Kongnamul Gukbap
Jeonju Kongnamul Gukbap, which has been around for more than 100 years, owes its reputation to the beansprouts (kongnamul) produced in Jeonju. The beansprouts are grown in the Jeonju Hanok Village from dried soybeans. Since beansprouts naturally contain asparaginic acid, which helps dissolve alcohol, many Koreans eat a hot bowl of kongnamul gukbap as a hangover food.
Jeonju Makgeolli (전주막걸리)
Makgeolli is one of the oldest traditional liquors of Korea. Steamed glutinous rice, barley or wheat is mixed with a starter and left to ferment. Along with Jeonju’s bibimbap, hanjeongsik, and kongnamul gukbap, Jeonju makgeolli is the most well-known food of Jeonju. Jeonju is one of the nation’s top three makgeolli producers.
☞ More info on Traditional Liquors and Wines
Moju (모주 )
Jeonju’s Moju is a sweet and mild liquor made by boiling down makgeolli with eight medicinal herbs including ginger, jujube, licorice root, ginseng, arrowroot, and cinnamon powder. Moju is said to go well with kongnamul gukbap and is a widely enjoyed beverage across the region due to its low alcoholic content.
Jeonju Hanji (전주한지)
A long time ago, Jeonju hanji was one of the specialty products of the region that was offered as homage to the king. Its combined durability and beauty is said to reflect the wisdom of those who crafted it. Today, Jeonju hanji is still very marketable and was even used to decorate the residences of Korea's Permanent Representative to the UN and the UN Secretary General. It was also used to restore documents at the National Library of Tunisia.
☞ More info on Hanji Paper
Major Attractions in Jeonju Hanok Village
A landmark of the Jeonju Hanok Village, Gyeonggijeon Shrine was built in the 10th year of King Taejong’s reign (1410) to house the portrait of King Taejo, the founder of the Joseon Dynasty. Owing to its beautiful surrounding landscape, it has been used as a filming site for many historical dramas and movies.
☞ More info on the Gyeonggijeon Shrine
Jeondong Catholic Church
Located at the entrance of the Hanok Village, the Jeondong Catholic Church was built on the very site of the Pungnammun Gate where the first Korean Catholic martyr was executed. This romanesque structure reflects a simple beauty; it is said that its cornerstones were built using the stones of the demolished Pungnammun Gate. Major attractions are the memorial stone of the first executed martyr and the cathedral’s stained glass, also depicting the martyrs.
☞ More info on the Jeongdong Catholic Church
Jeonju Hyanggyo (Confucian School)
'Hyanggyo' refers to the confucian schools of the Goryeo and Joseon eras. The Jeonju Hyanggyo was built in the early 17th century and consists of the Daeseongjeon Hall (where the tablets of Kongzi are enshrined), Myeongnyundang (lecture hall), Jangpangak (building where wooden engraved blocks are stored), Manhwaru Pavilion, and the residence halls of Dongjae and Seojae. In the center of Daeseongjeon Hall are the tablets of the five Chinese philosophers Kongzi, Yangzi, Tsengtzu, Zishi, and Mengzi. Outside is a stately gingko tree that is approximately 400 years old.
☞ More info on Jeonju Hyanggyo
Omokdae & Imokdae
Standing proudly high up on the hilltops, the Omokdae Pavilion is where Yi Seong-gye (1335-1408, founder of the Joseon Dynasty, in power 1392 to 1398) held a banquet after defeating the Japanese army in Mt. Hwangsan, Namwon in 1380. Go past the bridge at Omokdae and you'll find Imokdae Pavilion, below which hangs a stone monument bearing the handwriting of King Gojong (1852-1919, 26th monarch of Joseon Dynasty, in power from 1863 to 1907).
Of the 700 or so hanok buildings in Jeonju Hanok Village, 'Hagindang' is the largest and one of the most magnificent. The building was constructed over 100 years ago and features all of the traditional architectural characteristics of the latter half of the Joseon Dynasty. It is an outstanding representation of an upper class residence from this time period.
☞ More info on Hagindang
One of the 'Eight Scenic Views of Jeonju,' 'Hanbyeokdang' is a pavilion that rests high atop a cliff located at the foot of Seungamsan Mountain. The pavilion is frequented by famous poets for the great views it offers.
☞ More info on the Hanbyeokdang Pavilion
Chimyeongjasan Martyrs Ground
Chimyeongjasan is perched upon a steep ridge of Seungamsan Mountain behind Hanbyeokdang Pavilion and is a sacred site for those of the Catholic faith. On the summit is a church and the grave of the world's first married couple to publicly vow to remain virgins. The entire path from the site's entrance to the summit is strewn with flowers, offering the optimal place for a stroll and some quiet meditation.
☞ More info on Chimyeongjasan Martyrs Ground
Jeonju Traditional Korean Paper Center
The Jeonju Traditional Korean Paper Center upholds the pure and traditional methods of making hanji (traditional Korean paper). A valuable cultural heritage of Korea that embodies the care and skill of ancient craftsmen, hanji is in itself a work of art. At the center, visitors can watch and learn the whole hanji production process by separating the leaves of hanji paper, inserting the patterns, and drying out the final product.
☞ Check out the Jeonju Hanji Culture Festival
Jeonju Korean Traditional Wine Museum
The Jeonju Korean Traditional Wine Museum preserves the traditional brewing practices that have been handed down from generation to generation. At the museum, visitors can learn about drinking etiquettes and how to make traditional liquors. The liquors (called gayangju) are brewed in individual homes and are made of rice, water, and a starter. They do no contain any artificial preservatives or chemical additives.
☞ More info on Jeonju Korean Traditional Wine Museum
Jeonju Craftworks Exhibition Hall
The Jeonju Craftworks Exhibition Hall offers a wide selection of beautiful crafts produced in the region and a number of hands-on craft programs for visitors. At the museum, guests can see and purchase everyday items as well as works of art created by master craftsmen. The delicate fans made of Jeonju hanji paper, in particular, are unique collectible items.
☞ More info on Jeonju Craftworks Exhibition Hall
Jeonju Int'l Sori Festival
The Jeonju Int'l Sori Festival is designed to promote pansori (designated an 'Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity' by UNESCO) and other characteristic sounds of Korea. It offers a venue for musical groups from around the world to come and proudly display their country's heritage.
☞ More info on Jeonju Int'l Sori Festival
Jeonju Hanji Culture Festival
The Jeonju Hanji Culture Festival is organized to promote the outstanding qualities of Jeonju's hanji paper, a craft with over a thousand years of history. Main events include the National Hanji Craft Competition, a hanji fashion show, and a parade. At the Hanji Theme Park, visitors can take part in various hands-on programs to make hanji crafts, strain hanji paper as part of the production process, or hang a wish lantern made of hanji.
☞ More info on Jeonju Hanji Culture Festival
Jeonju Bibimbap Festival
This culinary festival celebrates Jeonju bimbibap and all the other dishes that have made Jeonju a 'food province.' Programs at the Jeonju Bibimbap Festival include an exhibition and sampling of traditional food, a number of cooking contests, a large exhibition of 101 types of bibimbap, and demonstrations on how to cook traditional bibimbap.
☞ More info on Jeonju Bibimbap Festival
▶ By Bus
Seoul → Jeonju
Seoul Central Terminal → Jeonju Express Bus Terminal
(First bus - 05:30 / Last bus - 24:00 / Runs every 10 minutes / Travel time - 2 hours, 45 minutes)
Jeonju Express Bus Terminal → Jeonju Hanok Village
* Take Bus 5-1 from the bus stop located 150m away from the taxi stand on the opposite side of the street (towards Inter-city bus terminal direction).
(Bus runs every 15 minutes / Travel time: around 15 minutes).
* Take Bus 79 from the bus stop in front of the terminal main gate.
(Runs every 25 minutes / Travel time: around 15 minutes).
* Take a taxi: approximately 10 minutes.
▶ 1330 tt call center: +82-63-1330 (Korean, English, Chinese, Japanese)
▶ More info on Jeonju Hanok Village [Slow City]
▶ Related Column
Jeonju: Hanok and Bibimbap Aplenty in Korea's Cultural Heartland
☞ Check out Jeonju International Film Festival
☞ Check out Jeonju Hanji Culture Fesitval
▶ Hanok Village Accomodations
▶ Jeonju Hanok Village Website (Korean, English, Chinese, Japanese)