Things to Do in Jeonju in 24 Hours: The Love I let get away…

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jeonju culture street

Things to do in Jeonju in 24 hours : Artsy Jeonju and the love that got away

 

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.

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.

Read Things to Do in Daegu

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.

jeonju culture street

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.

 

jeonju hanok houses

hanok village jeonju

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.

culture street jeonju

#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 TerminalFor 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.

Jeonju Travel websites

Jeonju Tourist Website (English version available)
Jeonju Hub
Free shuttles from Seoul to Jeonju

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16 Comments. Leave new

Hey! I came across this blog post when I was researching Jeonju after being offered a job there. This post pretty much helped me decide to take the job and I’m looking forward to experiencing Jeonju!
Thanks for all of your information about Korea. I’ve been reading it all in my preparation to move there in a few weeks. I love it! I’m also a vegan right now and your articles gave me hope that I will be able to maintain at least a vegetarian lifestyle in Korea! yay!

Reply

    @Carrie: Congrats. I’m excited for you, Jeonju was such a cute town. I just realized my slide photos are showing up, but you’ll like it. Vegan bloggers: Check out Vegan around the Worldand Alien’s Day out (she’s got a list of vegan restaurants in Seoul) and there’s expat Korea vegan groups on FB too. There are Korean foods that are veggie so you can ask your co-teacher. Some vegans order extra products online, Loving Hut is a chain of restaurants (which also sells frozen soy products) & if you stumble upon garbanzo beans and stuff, buy it. Aaand, if you’re really starving, take the train to Seoul. You’ll have a love affair with it. Good luck & fighting!

    Reply

Hi again-
I’m just not a big city person…I’ve spent a few summers in Seoul and was there for 6 months last year, and have been in Jeonju for 8 months now. There are neighborhoods I’m very fond of in Seoul but getting around and dealing with the crowds gives me a headache. It’s true that if I was going to be in Korea long term (like really long-term, 5-10 years) I’d probably want to be somewhere in Seoul or very near Seoul. But for the 2 years I’ll be in Jeonju the size and vibe are perfect. (Plus the 2.5 hours to Seoul by bus doesn’t bother me at all).

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    @Bonnie: Hello! Yeah, the big city isn’t for everyone. Smaller cities like Jeonju offer a more personal experience and quaint lifestyle. Jeonju is actually still pretty big from what I saw though. It seems to have a nice balance of things– a bit of cosmopolitan, artsy and Korea. It’s got a small flavor of Seoul without the fast pace and large crowds.

    Reply

I’ve been reading your blog and really enjoy it…I live in Jeonju and like it a lot. I’ve lived in Seoul too and much prefer Jeonju, despite its small size. It’s not all roses, but in many ways it’s one of the more relaxed cities I’ve been in Korea while still having enough amenities to keep the foreigners in its midst happy. Did you sign on for another year in Daegu? If you stop by Jeonju or the area again let me know- I’ve met some good friends in Korea over time via blogs. If you get a chance check out Gwangju a little over an hour to the south in Jeollanamdo, as it’s bigger but has a similar mellow vibe in certain neighborhoods (including a cute Art Street).

Reply

    @Bonnie: Thanks for dropping by & leaving a message. If I do re-sign for another year, I prob won’t choose Daegu. While it is centrally located and great for travel, the lifestyle doesn’t align w/ me comfortably. Yes, Jeonju definitely felt more laid-back and friendly but I think it’s interesting that you prefer Jeonju to Seoul, seeing as there’s so much to do in Seoul. How long have you been here? Will let you know if I drop by Jeonju again– would love to meet up! 😉 I know I’ll definitely be checking out Gwangju. I’m concerned it may be a bit big but I hear it’s an artsy city. It was actually my 3rd or 4th choice due to that impression.

    Reply

The Jeollas have always been more liberal than the rest of the country. During the Korean War, the area was the last hold out of the communists, which is part of why they’re still liberal and part of why they’re largely neglected by the rest of Korea – they are somewhat seen as traitors.

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I’m glad that you found Jeonju to be a fun place. I often feel like the Jeollas get a bad rap because they’re largely rural, but really, they can be great places. Though I hated my school, I loved my location in Jindo, and I felt that Jeollanamdo was considerably more liberal and creative than much of the rest of the country.

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    @Kelsey: It was surprising how creative that area was given that yeah, the Jeollas are more rural. A part of me really finds fascination with that coast, though and it seems like the idyllic getaway into the countryside. It’s actually what I thought Korea might be a little more like vs. developed. I’ll definitely need to explore the Jeollas more and Jindo is still on my list!

    Reply

Hi! I just stumbled upon your website and read your blogs. I find it very interesting considering that I’m also a foreigner in Daegu. I just got in last week and find everything just as confusing. I’m here for a clinical training in a hospital for about a month and a half. I could use some advice as to how to get around. and how I could use up my weekends. thanks and keep on blogging! 🙂

Reply

    @Eileen: Thanks for stumbling and welcome to Daegu! The best resources to familiarize yourself with are the bus, subway and train. Daegu has 4 bus stations, 2 train stations and a decent metro line- because of that, its fairly easy to do day trips and get around. One thing you will find frustration with is that there’s little online assistance as to the Getting There part for some cities & finding the correct bus station is confusing. I have some transportation info in my itinerary section, which currently is a ongoing resource for myself & I try to document a bit of how I got there. Feel free to email me if you have any questions or are in need of a friend.

    Reply

I’m glad that you’re taking the opportunity to travel on the weekends to feed your soul, and that you found some great art to do just that in Jeonju. Though I’m sure not from the perspective of your happiness, at least from the standpoint of your blog, I think it’s probably been helpful that everything hasn’t been all sunshine and roses during your stay in Daegu. It’s a learning experience for both you and your readers that travel doesn’t always live up to our expectations and you either curl up and quit or you roll with the punches (as you have done).

Reply

    @Gray: Thanks for your comment Gray. Your comments are always so thoughtful.

    It’s a learning experience for both you and your readers that travel doesn’t always live up to our expectations and you either curl up and quit or you roll with the punches (as you have done).

    You’ve just summed up the motivation and encouragement I need! You’re right, travel doesn’t always live up to expectations and that alone is something to be lived and dealt with.

    Reply
Avatar
Laura Cancun
July 13, 2010 5:19 pm

I really love all the murals!

And don’t regret your decision to stay in Daegu… it seems like a great jumping off point to get to great cities on weekends. 🙂

Reply

First- As always, great blog! You are an exceptional writer. I cannot help but think that this project is more in line with your true calling.

Second- I really do think there is a reason you are living in Daegu. Perhaps if you had been assigned to Jeonju, you would be less inclined to travel on the weekends, travel would almost certainly be less convenient, and you would have far less to blog about!

Third- Your distaste for Daegu adds some drama and has the potential to be very humorous!

Fourth- That is a really hideous picture of me Christine! I look exactly like the old man that’s hiding in my soul.

Reply

    @Chance:
    Thanks for the uplifting positives as usual…
    1) God no, don’t let writing be my calling– there’s absolutely no money in it & it takes me more time to write an idea than shoot it. bleh.
    2) Ok, you might be right on that count. Discomfort always make for a great story. …AND you also forgot– if I weren’t in Daegu, we wouldn’t have met and become friends. 😉
    3) What drama? There’s absolutely none here– no itch to scratch, just give me my garbanzo beans!
    4) You know your 4th really wanted to be your 1st, and no, you don’t look like an old man hiding inside your soul! LOL. And if so, you are very wise! There’s another pic of you in the slideshow, I think a more youthful soul one (cause we’re about to eat)

    Reply

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