Culture and Food: A Jeonju Kind of Mood – 09/11/2019 to 11/11/2019

After arriving in Jeonju and dropping off our bags at our guesthouse, Emily and I decided to enjoy the last few hours of the day and headed out to see the famous lotus lake at Deokjin Park. A spot for romantic walks with your partner, there were loads of Korean couple enjoying the evening. We strolled around the lake, looking at the mass of brown in the middle. It is of course nearing the end of autumn and all of the flowers are gone! Still, it was a lovely stroll and we got to see loads of lotus pods…

Beautiful despite the lack of lotus!

Our full day in Jeonju was spent in the hanok village and surrounding area. A hanok is a traditional Korean house, so having the opportunity to walk around an entire village that is jam packed with traditional foods, crafts and clothes is something that should be on any Korea travel itinerary. We lost hours browsing shops filled with everything from traditional hand made paper to gourmet local rice wines. A slice of ancient Korea, this was definitely a change of pace from the rest of metropolitan Korea; space-age modern convenience.

Stunning traditional houses in Hanok

No visit to the hanok village is complete without checking out the Gyeonggijeon – a whole palace dedicated to a portrait. The shrine here dedicated to Taejo of Joseon is ornate and beautiful. The portrait itself is not on display all year as it would age without proper storage and care. We were lucky enough to visit while the original was on display making our time wandering around this palace and living museum all the more special. And it’s pretty big, giving ample opportunity to wander around all the palace grounds. Plenty of time to build up an appetite!

More fall leaves in the palace grounds – no photos of the portrait allowed!

Which is fine because every travel guide or blog you read on Jeonju will tell you exactly the same thing. Try the bibimbap here! Other than bbq and kimchi, it is perhaps the most famous Korean culinary export. It’s a beautiful dish made up of rice, beef and veggies of all varieties. All are delicately arranged in a cacophony of colour and texture. It’s almost like the dish was invented for Instagram. But it’s much older of course, so Emily and I had it at Hankook Jib. This Michelin Guide restaurant is seen as the birthplace of the dish and has been making it the same way for generations. We had a raw beef bowl and a hot clay bowl and shared a bottle of local rice wine. It wasn’t just pretty. It was delicious!

Living that Korean foodie life

We kind of walked off this massive meal in the Jaman mural village. I say kind of, because it wasn’t all that long before we ended up buying a bibimbap waffle! Delicious and deep fried, this is one food item that Jaman is famous for – a modern street food twist to a classic. Well at least we only did what everyone said you had to do in Jeonju – eat until you’re stuffed. So really, no amount of exploring alleys filled with Totoro or Pikachu murals were ever going to balance the day out. But that’s what travelling is all about sometimes I guess! Good food, different things to see and great company. The mural village overlooks the hanok village as well, which is an added bonus. You can gaze over the traditional side of Korea while sitting in one of the more modern, quirky and kitsch areas. And that just about sums Jeonju up, really!

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All about those Totoro hugs