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Jeonju Hanok Village (Part 1)

Recent Posts, Posted by Matt in ALL DESTINATIONS,Art & Culture,Historic Korea,Jeolla, 24 Comments

Jeonju Hanok Village (Part 1)


As described in several other posts, hanok (한옥) are traditional Korean homes built of clay, wood and stone. Unfortunately, these graceful one-story structures featuring curved tile roofs are becoming a rarity in Korea, but some places are doing their best to preserve them. One of the best examples of a hanok village is in the city of Jeonju, located in North Jeolla Province. Jeonju was once the capital of Korea’s Baekje Kingdom, and was also the home of the Joseon Dynasty’s founding king, Yi Seong-gye.
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Jeonju has been one of Korea’s most important cities for centuries, and today, the Jeonju Hanok Village (전주한옥마을) is a wonderful place to sample Korea’s traditional culture. So, over the summer, I took the three-hour trip from Seoul.

From Jeonju Hanok Village (전주한옥마을)

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After the taxi dropped me off at the Jeonju Hanok Village entrance, in front of me was a sea of tile roofs. Without a set itinerary in mind, I just started walking along the main road, and it wasn’t long before I happened upon Kkotsugee Gongbang (꽃숙이공방) the handicraft workshop of Yang Mi-yeong.

Jeonju Hanok Village

In addition to artisan shops, there are also a number of traditional teahouses in the village. I had read good reviews of the chrysanthemum tea at Gyodong Dawon (교동다원), so I was pleased to happen upon the place. Inside, calming music complemented the beautiful dark wood and clay interiors.

From Jeonju Hanok Village (전주한옥마을)

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When my tea arrived, there were a few small yellow chrysanthemums inside a tiny stone cup. After adding scalding water from a thermos, about one shot’s worth of tea was drained into my tea cup. The tea proved to have a subtle but satisfying taste. And when a breeze came through the windows, the faint smell of chrysanthemums filled the room. Close to an hour later, I departed Gyodong Dawon for Jeonju Hanok Village’s far west side. Three notable sights dominate the west village.

From Jeonju Hanok Village (전주한옥마을)

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The first is Gyeonggijeon (경기전), a large, park-like complex where the portrait of King Yi Seong-gye is enshrined. Originally built in 1410, some of the current buildings date to 1614. The king’s portrait features him seated in a magnificent red chair with three gold-foiled dragons on his royal blue robes. Several other Joseon kings also have portraits enshrined here.

From Jeonju Hanok Village (전주한옥마을)

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And across the street is the beautiful  Jeondong Catholic Church (전동성당). When Catholic missionaries first came to Korea in the late 18th century, many were martyred here. The first deaths occurred in 1791, and Father Xavier Baudounet honored their sacrifices by erecting Jeonju’s fantastic Byzantine/Romanesque-style church in 1914. It’s said that the church’s cornerstone was where the head of one of the early martyrs was hanged.

From Jeonju Hanok Village (전주한옥마을)

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And finally, just west of the church is the stately Pungnammun (풍남문). It’s the only remaining gate of former city fortress. Rebuilt in 1768, Pungnammun’s stately architecture is similar to other great gates, like Seoul’s Sungnyemun and the main gate of Suwon Hwaseong Fortress (수원화성), except that the Jeonju gate’s pillars extend from the first level up into the second.

That’s it for this part of our two-part look at Jeonju Hanok Village. In Part 2, it’s time to eat!.
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For your information…

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Open 24 HoursFree Admission063-1330
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North Jeolla Province Jeonju-si Wonsan-gu Gyo-dong & Pungnam-dongFrom Jeonju station, take bus #79 or 119 to Jeongdong Cathedralwebsite
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24 Comments

19 November 2008 21:45

Kim

I really enjoy your posts, great pics & just the right amount of info…I especially enjoyed this one.

28 November 2008 11:24

Matt Kelley

Thanks, Kim. What about this post did you like best? If you let me know, I’ll try to incorporate more of that info or style in future posts :)

Matt

25 February 2009 05:05

Kay35

Ahh..I just stumbled into this site recentlly. Thanks for the deep insight, photos AND directions on how to get there. Im a tad nervous as it will be one of my first time going to Korea next year. Jeonju looks like a must go to list also!

1 March 2009 08:31

Matt Kelley

Hi Kay,
Thanks for your comment and I’m glad you find our site. Don’t be nervous about coming to Korea… the country is very foreigner-friendly. Jeonju is great… in addition to attractive historical and cultural sites, the Jeolla provinces boast Korea’s best food, hands down!

26 March 2009 02:00

DK Update! « Discovering Korea

[...] 5-day trip along Korea’s Namhae (남해), or southern coast. After some delicious dinner in Jeonju, we’ll make our way from Mokpo, in the southwest to Busan and Ulsan in the southeast. I [...]

14 April 2009 15:28

Cara

I was so glad to find this particular blog of yours on Jeonju. My husband is from there, & I will be visiting Jeonju to meet his relatives. It’s really excellent to find out some details about his hometown, as I am so curious! I also really appreciate the great pictures you have up :) Personally, I would welcome even more personal narrative in your blogs- what you have up already is great…tell me more!
Also, I found it so interesting to hear that the Jeolla provinces are well-known for great food. My husband & his mom are not only great cooks, but really LOVE food & cooking- this gives me some insight :~)

18 April 2009 00:20

Matt Kelley

Thanks for your note, Cara. Jeonju is a special place, so I hope you enjoy your time there. My boyfriend’s family is also from there. We just passed through a couple of weeks ago, and went to a great restaurant. If raw, fermented crab is your thing (it was delicious), let me know… I can give you their contact info :)

You may also be interested in three nearby places definitely worth visiting. I’ve profiled two of them here already:

Geumsansa Temple
Seonyudo Island

and, Damyang is famous for its bamboo forests. I have yet to visit but can’t wait! Anyhow, I hope you enjoy your trip!

Best, Matt

13 November 2009 05:29

Daniel Smith

Matt,
I might be coming to Jeonju City, South Korea: Language Center of Jeon-buk National University, this summer for learning Korean. If I get accepted I will be there during May 2010 to August. Any advice on what type of weather is to be expected and any “must see” places to visit while I’m there. Thanks!!!

November 14 2009 10:35 am

Matt Kelley

Hi Daniel,
Thanks for your message. Jeonju is a wonderful place! May and early June should be beautiful there - not too hot yet and good for traveling. The summer months will be hot and humid, but given that you're going to school in Mississippi I doubt you'll find it too oppressive.

In terms of must-see places, I'd reiterate Geumsansa Temple and Seonyudo Island are great. In Jeonju proper, the hanok village is fun. I've heard great things about the bamboo forests in Damyang, though I've yet to visit myself. However, I expect to be there in about 2 weeks and can report on it then.

Hope you'll enjoy your stay in Korea! Best, Matt

14 December 2009 19:47

Jacob

Hello,your posts are so interest,
I am african from Tanzania,I like to study korean language.
Can you help to get the institute of language in korea that provide scholarships to study korean language for foreigner.
Thank you.

21 December 2009 01:58

J.Ng

Hi Matt, thanks for sharing with us . I have forgotten the LP since I found this great website :-) I like reading your post with photos, much more enjoyable!

We are going to Korea for a week this Febuary. As we plan to stay in Soeul for 4 nights, we have only 3 left for other destinations. Gyeongju is our last stop and we perhaps need to choose between Andong and Jeonju. Which city would you pick ? Or you might suggest another better plan?

Kamsamnida!

December 24 2009 18:45 pm

Matt Kelley

Hi J.Ng,
Awww... thanks for the nice comment.
Wow, picking between Jeonju and Andong is tough. How about I point out each place's many merits and you can decide?
As I'm sure you know, both Jeonju and Andong (Hahoe Village) have wonderful traditional hanok villages. But while Jeonju's is close to downtown and has more of an "old town in a modern city" feel, Hahoe Village is very much out in the countryside in a very beautiful natural setting (in the nook of a river bend). Both cities have wonderful old temples or Confucian schools nearby. I'd definitely recommend Jeonju food over Andong food, but it would be easier to visit Andong on your way to Gyeongju from Seoul if you want to travel by train. Then again... since you can see a lot of historic and natural sites in Gyeongju, maybe your third location should be Busan or Jeju??

I don't know if I've helped or just made your decision more difficult^^ But feel free to let me know if you have any other questions! Best, Matt

28 January 2010 22:48

J.Ng

Hello, belated thanks for your reply. We picked Busan for our last stop as you suggested and Im glad I did. Very nice town, nice besach view and tons of yumyum seafood :-) I’l keep watching ur site.. Best.

February 06 2010 13:51 pm

Matt Kelley

Hey again!

Wow, glad to hear you enjoyed Busan. Did you see all the multi-colored box houses from the top of Busan Tower?
~Matt

20 March 2010 20:38

Discovering Korea – Nagan Fortress Folk Village

[...] Korea are actual communities whose family clans have lived there for centuries (see: Hahoe Village, Jeonju Hanok Village, Bukchon). Of course, village life presents many inconveniences in modern Korea, so the government [...]

12 September 2010 20:57

Discovering Korea – ALL DESTINATIONS

[...] 2009] Korea Travel Expo 2009 [February 24, 2009] Gongju’s Songsanri Tombs [December 19, 2008] Jeonju’s Hanok Village (Part 1) [November 19, 2008] Garosugil: Sinsa’s Tree-Lined Street [November 17, 2008] Gwangju Biennale [...]

16 November 2010 23:39

Nut

Hi Matt,
I came across your blog while planning my trip to Korea. I’d be spending a week in Seoul, then I’ve another 5 days for other cities. I plan to end my trip in Busan, but now I’m torn between Gyeongju and Jeonju. Gyeongju would be a wiser option if I take KTX right? Because it’s in the same direction to Busan. But I really like the, as you said, “old town in a modern city feel” of Jeonju… Do you think I can make a one-day trip from Seoul to Jeonju? Or should I spend the night there?

THANKS! Love your blog. Pretty photos and useful info.

November 28 2010 22:06 pm

Matt

Hi Nut,
Thanks a lot for your note. You've asked perhaps the most difficult question in Korea travel planning... Gyeongsangdo or Jeollado? Namely, do I go to the SE or SW part of the country? I've dealt with this conundrum many times! Actually, you've made the decision a bit easier by deciding between Gyeongju and Jeonju. Gyeongju is both a much more convenient option (when going between Seoul and Busan), and it's Korea's #1 destination for cultural sites (outside the Seoul area). You can still get that "old town in a modern city" feel in Gyeongju, so don't worry. But I would recommend a rental car as Gyeongju is quite large and seeing it on foot would be exhausting.

If you're set on Busan and Gyeongju and still want that "hanok village" countryside experience, I'd add a day in Andong/Hahoe Village, which is also located in Korea's Gyeongsang region. Sounds like a great trip!

Best, Matt

18 August 2011 22:13

Cindy

Thank you about your information.
It is helpful to me.
I’m also interesred in korean tourism.
I’d like to friend with you.^^
My e-mail adress is same as facebook adress.~kkk

12 October 2012 23:45

Linda

Hi! nice post! where do you stay in jeonju? I am thinking of staying for 2 nights there and would like to experience the hanok stay. But not very sure which one is gd and reliable. Any plc you can recommend? :)

November 12 2012 18:44 pm

Matt

Hi Linda,
I'm sorry, but I can't remember the place as it was ages ago. But if you aren't able to find anything online, I'd suggest just asking one of the folks in the tourism help kiosk at the train station or at the entrance to the village to help you find accommodations. Best, Matt

16 November 2012 13:25

julia

I came to across this website through BRIDGEZINE website.
Wow!!! I just love to see your perspective on traditional and contemporary Korea. thank you for sharing and informative contents with beautiful pictures!

10 July 2013 14:45

ace

hi nice to see your post! i will be visiting korea with my friend and we are wondering if we can make a daytrip to jeonju. is a day sufficient or is it better to spend a night there?

July 15 2013 02:27 am

Matt

Hmmm... if you left Seoul early and took the bullet train (KTX) to Iksan, and then transferred to Jeonju, it's possible to make it a day trip, but why not do an overnight? Jeonju is famous for its history and food, and spending the night in the Jeonju Hanok Village will be so memorable!

Best, Matt

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