REASONS TO LOVE JEONJU

Walking around the Hanok Village in Jeonju, South Korea.

Jeonju is a popular hub for tourists, famous for Korean food, historic architecture, and cultural festivals. It’s been an important regional center for over a thousand years, and is the capital of present-day North Jeolla Province, in southwest South Korea.

Jeondong Catholic Church in Jeonju, South Korea.
Jeondong Catholic Church in Jeonju, South Korea.
Jeonju has become one of my favorite destinations in Korea for several reasons. The city is a bit rusty around the edges, which is exactly what I prefer. I like a place with a little dirt under its fingernails. Shows it has a lot of history, depth, and personality.

Jeonju University was my first home in Korea. I went through a 10-day orientation facilitated by EPIK (English Program in Korea) upon arrival. The area surrounding campus is where I experienced many of my first impressions. Most I’ll never forget.

Jeonju bibimbap, a common local food, is popular around the Korean peninsula. It also happens to be the first Korean dish I tried, and is still one of my preferred meal choices. Jeonju boasts to have the best. You be the judge of that.

Perhaps what draws most visitors to Jeonju is its Hanok Village, situated in the middle of the city. Many teashops and restaurants, as well as souvenir and antique stores can be found throughout hundreds of traditional hanok style buildings. It’s the best place to get lost for an afternoon.

An old chair in Jeonju's Hanok Village in South Korea.
Exploring Jeonju's Hanok Village. February, 2013.
Jeonju also has several museums and temples to check out, a fortress to explore, a well-known paper museum to see, and the surrounding mountains are perfect for outdoor enthusiasts. The Jeonju International Film Festival (JIFF) has been held every spring since 2000, and is recognized as a premier film festival in Asia. I’m excited to attend.

Having close personal connections in Jeonju has provided opportunities for me to get to know the city, as well as Korean culture, more intimately. Making songpyeon (traditional Korean rice cakes), while staying with a family during Chuseok was a real treat. I look forward to going back for Lunar New Year.

I’d recommend trying Jeonju’s Moju. Moju is sweet liquor made by mixing makgeolli (one of Korea’s oldest forms of alcohol) with medicinal herbs including ginger, ginseng, and cinnamon. I made sure to buy two bottles from an ajumma (older, married woman) that publically professed her love for me. She knew how to sell it.

Every time I go to Jeonju I fall more in love. And no, it isn't the alcohol typing. Moju has low alcohol content. Taste a bit of Jeonju, and see for yourself. Add it to your list of must-see places if you live in Korea, or if you plan to visit. Even if you’ve already been, I’m sure there’s something new and exciting to experience. Have you attended the annual paper fashion show?


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