Jeonju is a city in South Korea known for its famous Jeonju bibimbap (비빔밥), historic buildings, Jeonju Hanok Village, and their innovative festivals. The city has been included in UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network which recognizes the city’s traditional home cooking handed down through generations over thousands of years, its active public and private food research, a system of nurturing talented chefs, and its hosting of distinctive local food festivals.
Prior to visiting Korea, I never thought of visiting Jeonju, not knowing much about it as a city and what it offers to a foreigner. But on a holiday weekend, one of my Korean friends was going back to her hometown, Jeonju, and had told me a lot about it and encouraged me to visit. So I booked my ticket on the Korail and made a plan for the weekend to visit Jeonju, as well as Yeosu for its Expo. Armed with my backpack with a change of clothes and my camera, I set off early in the morning to Yongsan Station to catch the Mugunghwa (connecting train) for 17,400KWN from Yongsan to Jeonju and 9,900KWN for the Jeonju to Yeosu Expo leg. The train ride being around 3hrs long on the Mugunghwa.
Upon arrival at the Jeonju Railway Station, I was waiting to meet up with my friend to pick me up from the station. The first thing on the to do list? Get some food because I was starving. Making our way through the city on bus and a short walk thereafter, we made it to a traditional Korean restaurant selling the famous Jeonju Bibimbap. The Jeonju Bibimbap was slightly different in taste from the regular dolsot bibimbap I usually enjoyed in Seoul. It included many different things like almonds, taro, corn, carrots, mushrooms. It was also served with many different side dishes, unfamiliar to what I was accustomed to.
After lunch, we made our way to Pungnammun which is the south gate of Jeonju. The design is similar to the gates you find in Seoul like the Dongdaemun and Gwanghwamun. Closeby was the Jeonju Hanok Village where traditional arts and crafts were available for purchase, and unique cafe shops, lined up the streets with traditional hanok homes and buildings. You could tell from just the first impression that this city is filled with its cultural heritages, and the Hanok Village reinforces that fact.