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It’s no secret that I’ve made every effort to travel on the weekends- Seoul, Busan, Cheongdo, Jirisan, Gunsan/Syeonudo Islands, Geongju, Jinhae, etc… Aside from my inexpressible need to get out of Daegu, brought on by the culture shock I underwent my first months here, I actually think Daegu is- to put it bluntly-boring. For a “fashion capital”, the city has no sense of style.
Enter Jeonju, a small city that is busting with a contemporary artsy flair. Exploring the city you might find murals on the side of buildings or small but trendy cafes with poetic themes and designs competing with Seoul. While aspects of it seem like a standard Korean city, Jeonju has its coves and streets which vibe electric, independent and eclectic.
Chance in front of our breakfast smoothie cafe, The Story. Perfectly titled it has photo
exhibition upstairs of peoples’ stories. You can write your own story or sentiments
on a bookmark and add it to their counter wall inside.
Table of Contents: Things to Do in Jeonju in 24 Hours: The Love I let get away…
So what happens if you meet your city soulmate?
Soulmates can be places, not only people and when I passed my soulmate I was on the night bus to Gunsan , I got that feeling I that I was passing a great love. I got up from my bus nap, just in time to see colorful city bridge lights, fun food shops, etc… and had a crazy feeling that this city would be a place I’d want to return to. I quickly stole a nameplate in passing- JEONJU.
With the EPIK program, we’re allowed to list anywhere up to five preferences of cities to live in. I battled with the choice of living in the North Jeolla (or Jeollabuk-do) area. While I was attracted to photos I saw of Jeonju in gorgeous scenery, vegetarian bibimbap and the arts/crafts, I was afraid the city might be in a rural area. So I listed Daegu. Bad mistake. Although there’s no such things as mistakes.
Eventually I found a weekend to make it back to Jeonju. Coming out to the Jeolla region, I discovered the Seonyudo Islands could be covered in one day! By the day’s end, me and my friends were back at Gunsan’s Express Bus Terminal, checking our schedule options. Jeonju was less than two hours away from Gunsan by bus. Once in Jeonju, we found a love motel to rest for the night.
Getting around in Jeonju
Jeonju was a refreshing surprise from other towns or cities I had visited. It also had a bright, down-to-earth and youthful vibe to it.
There are two terminals in Jeonju: Jeonju’s Express Bus Terminal and Intercity bus terminal (located a couple of blocks apart from each other, but far enough where you can’t make quick connections between). The distance to the traditional Hanok Village was 15-20 minutes by taxi!
Things to do in Jeonju in 24 hours
Jeonju Hanok Village
To be truthful, many. Korea has a ton of places to see hanok villages.
Jeonju’s Hanok Village is filled with some traditional-styled houses and owners are not allowed to change them as they’re of a historical nature.
As a Sunday walking street, all feels traditional and yet remodeled to embody tasteful, innovative artsy cafes , small craft museums, traditional craft workshops (i.e. calligraphy or paper making) and restaurants. Some buildings house historical monuments. Meanwhile, there’s a contemporary aspect in the street fair where craft sellers showcase hand-woven eclectic and artistic jewelry/ crafts. Seeing contemporary artists selling their own creative designs or artwork on the streets is pretty rare.
Eat Jeonju bibimbap
Jeonju bibimbap is the must-try dish. What makes Jeonju bibimbap slightly different from other are the vegetables they use, which is all the more why I had to try it. It’s a little more earthy than it’s ubiquitous staple and it feels more organic and earthy. We chose a trendy-looking hanok restaurant in the hanok village area and hunkered down for the city’s house specialty. A mixture of mushroom, corn, carrots, sprouts, etc… It’s vegetarian’s heaven.
Three main streets in Jeonju city
From the Hanok Village, getting to the three downtown Jeonju and its three walking streets it took approximately 15 minutes by foot.
#1. Culture Street
Not really sure what it was- many shops were closed on Sunday, but there sure were a hell of a lot of public artwork that were conceptually fun, performance oriented and interesting. Yes, Jeonju has an art scene which is very vibrant, searching for a way to grow and gain recognition and innovation.
#2. Movie Street
Aside from art institutes and innovative street art, Jeonju boasts a small film scene which it is steadily growing. Each year Jeonju holds JIFF (The Jeonju International Film Festival). This area houses theaters and movie making and performance workshops *gasp* . Clothing boutiques and artsy cafes make up the rest of the neighborhood real estate.
#3. Walking Street
If you’ve been throughout Korea, then this shopping street will be nothing new to you. Other than the fact it’s pathway lights up above and does fun light shows, this area is your standard shopping area, though probably less crazy and elaborate as larger cities, i.e. Seoul’s Myeongdong, Busan’s PIFF area and Daegu’s Bandwoldang area. Nonetheless it’s still a great shopping area and hotspot for friends and couples to draw to at night.
How to Get to Jeonju
You can catch the express bus from Daegu’s Seobu Bus Terminal or Seoul’s Express Bus Terminal. For Daegu-ites, Seobu Bus Terminal can feel confusing. You can take subway line 1 to Seongdangmot Station.
From Daegu, the trip will take 3 hours 50 min.
Cost: 11,300 General; 16,500 Excellent.
Where to stay in Jeonju
As I said, we stayed at a love motel in walking distance from the bus terminal. There’s a broad selection to choose from; just follow the bright neon lights. A room ranges from 30,000 won and up. I’d ask to check the room first to see if it’s to your liking. If love motels aren’t your thing, then here’s a listing of hotels in the area.