Jeonju is one of the most popular places in all of South Korea for food and is a must visit during your teaching experience. Located in North Jeolla Province, this is a must go to destination if you want to experience the old traditional lifestyles. A group of ChungDahm teachers decided to take the 3.5 hour bus ride out of Seoul to experience traditional Korean culture.
1) Price: We purchased our tickets through T-Mon (Ticket Monster Korean Website) for a discounted price of 15,000 won. If you choose to go this way, make sure that you have a Korean speaker next to you. We had some issues with our bus driver, but we were able to get it resolved. If you want to take a bus from one of Seoul's bus terminals, a round trip ticket costs around 40,000 won.
2)Food: Leaving Seoul at 7:00 AM, we arrived in Jeonju and went straight for the food. Jeonju is famous for dolsot bibimbap - a mixture of fresh vegetables, rice, spicy bean paste, and egg cooked in a stone pot. We decided to eat it with raw beef which made it even more delicious. We added seafood pajeon (Korean pancake made of egg, chives, green onions, squid, and shrimp) to finish our first meal. By 11 o’clock, we were stuffed and decided we needed to walk around to digest.
3) The Hanok Village: Luckily, Jeonju is also famous for Korea’s traditional (Hanok) housing village. These homes show how Koreans used to live hundreds of years ago. As we walked around the village, it was the perfect time to have a few drinks. One of the latest trends in Korea is to drink fruit flavored beer and there were numerous stands in village selling flavors from honey apple, strawberry, blueberry, cherry and Korean grapefruit beers. We tried a different assortment of them and it was a great way to cool off from the rising temperatures.
4) Shrine: Located inside the Jeonju Hanok Village lies Gyeonggijeon Shrine which pays tribute to the former kings of Korea. The palace is lined with trees and you could see many families resting underneath the shade.This is a great area to relax and also a great place to take pictures.
5) Hanbok: While some families rested, we noticed that many people were wearing traditional garments called the hanbok. They were running around taking pictures all over the village and we didn’t know why. A group of middle school students kept approaching us asking us to take pictures together. We kind of felt like rock stars! We finally realized that they were on a scavenger hunt and one of their tasks was to take pictures with foreigners. When talking to them, they told us that we could also rent hanboks and take pictures in the village. Prices started at 5000 won/hour and if you really want to feel like a traditional Korean, you should definitely try this experience out.
Bonus: More Food! After a few more drinks and a few more pictures, it was time to get more food! Another famous Korean dish from this area is ddeok galbi (rib meat). Super soft and tender, we found a restaurant that provided this accompanied with a bountiful amount of side dishes including spicy pork and squid. For all that food, the price was only 12000/person which is a fraction of the cost it would be if we were to eat this in Seoul. To round off our meal, we tried some dessert of homemade chocolate pies, a staple in this region.
Jeonju is a small place and can easily be explored within a day. If you want to stay over night, it is suggested to stay in one of the hanoks inside the village so that you can experience what old Korea would be like. There are numerous hanoks that you can stay in so do your due diligence when looking to rent one out. Jeonju is definitely a place I would love to go back to because it is the complete polar opposite of Seoul living. It’s just a great place to slow down and relax.
Marc has been living in Seoul and working at the ChungDahm Learning' s Gangdong Branch for 4 years now. He has worked his way up from being a teacher and to a faculty manager for that location. He majored in Finance and Marketing at the University of Nevada Las Vegas while working as a manager for a national bank. In his spare time, he enjoys outdoor activities like hiking the numerous mountains around Seoul and biking along the massive Han River. To know more about him and his adventures living in Korea, follow Marc on Twitter @geonmakku and on Instagram @geonmakku.