Jeonju (Korean pronunciation: [tsʌn.dzu]) is the 16th largest city in South Korea and the capital of North Jeolla Province. It is both urban and rural due to the closeness of Wanju County which almost entirely surrounds Jeonju (Wanju County has many residents who work in Jeonju). The name Jeonju literally means “Perfect Region” (from the hanja 全 (전; jeon) for perfect, 州 (주; ju) for region). It is an important tourist center famous for Korean food, historic buildings, sports activities, and innovative festivals.
In May 2012, Jeonju was chosen as a Creative Cities for Gastronomy as part of UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network. This honour recognizes the city’s traditional home cooking handed down over thousands of years, its active public and private food research, a system of nurturing talented chefs, and its hosting of distinctive food festivals
The Baekje kingdom was located in southwestern Korea which included the area Jeonju is now located. It is believed that Jeonju was founded as a market town within Baekje around 57 BCE.
Jeonju (along with Baekje in general) was conquered by the kingdom of Silla and their Chinese Tang allies in 660 CE. It soon became part of the Silla kingdom and in 685, Jeonju became one of the nine chu (a provincial capital of the kingdom). From 889 and onward, peasant revolts (caused from over taxation) became widespread throughout the kingdom and it also spread to Jeonju where it became the headquarters of one of the most powerful rebel leaders of the time, Gyeon Hwon. In 892 (or 900), Gyeon Hwon renamed the city Wansan and established it as the capital of the Later Baekje kingdom. From Wansan, Gyeon Hwon campaigned against Silla which climaxed with the destruction of Geumseong (the capital of the Silla kingdom) and the assassination of King Gyeongae in 927. With the decline of Silla, Gyeon Hwon and Wang Geon (of the Goryeo kingdom) waged battle for control of the peninsula. However, Wang Geon and his forces invaded Later Baekje in 934 and Jeonju surrendered to him in 935.
Under Goryeo rule, Jeonju reverted to being a provincial capital and enjoyed relative stability and economic growth. However, in 1182, the city was taken by peasant rebels with the aid of governmental troops stationed there who resented being forced to do heavy labor along slaves. The rebellion was soon suppressed forty days after it began.
The Joseon defeated Goryeo and founded a new dynasty in 1392 and took all their possessions including Jeonju. The Joseon considered Jeonju their ancestral home (an ancestor of Yi Seonggye of Joseon may have fled Jeonju after the 1182 peasant revolt). During the Joseon period, Jeonju became the capital of a reorganized Jeolla (one of the eight provinces of the Joseon). In 1413, Jeonju (along with three other cities) was given the honor of safekeeping copies of the Annals of the Joseon Dynasty which still survives extant in the former Confucian academy in Jeonju.
The town was occupied by the Donghak Peasant Revolution in 1894. Jeonju (like the rest of Korea) was then occupied by the Japanese beginning in 1910. The ancient walls of the old city were destroyed by the Japanese authorities with the Pungnammum Gate being the only remnant left today. Jeonju’s population grew between 1925 and 1949 when it reached 100,000 inhabitants. Jeonju was given metropolitan status in 1935, and the city was founded in 1949. During the Division of Korea, Jeonju was not in the immediate frontline of the war but by the armistice signing in July 1953, Jeonju (along with many other cities) suffered bombardment and the loss of many male residents who fought during the war.
Jeonju was given its modern boundaries and government system in 1963. It has since then industrialized rapidly. Since the Joseon Dynasty period, it was a metropolis, but it did not experience industrialization in the 20th century compared to other parts of Korea. It does not have the industrial infrastructure, manufacturing, or heavy industries found in other Korean major cities. Today, traditional tourism and sightseeing is a major industry in the city.
Jeonju International Film Festival
Jeonju International Film Festival (JIFF, Korean: 전주국제영화제, Hanja: 全州國際映畵祭) is an Asian film festival. It was launched in 2000 as a non-competitive film festival with partial competition. It introduces independent and experimental films to focus on the alternative course of contemporary film art.
In the first edition of JIFF, debut films of Darren Aronofsky were introduced to South Korea. For the first time in Asia, Jiff highlighted early works of Béla Tarr as well. The winners of Jeonju IFF’s International Competition Section include Ying Liang, John Akomfrah and Miike Takashi.
Another point of Jeonju is that it produces movies as well. Directors that once invited to Jeonju IFF, were later invited again to Jeonju Digital Project (JDP) which is a set of three digital shorts. JDP granted financial support to masters for their short films and world-premiered those pieces in Jeonju.
Celebrating its 15th edition, JDP has boosted scale up to Feature-length with GYÖRGY Pálfi(Hungary), PARK Jung bum/SHIN Yeon-shick (Republic of Korea).
One of the other characteristics of JIFF is its experimental section called Expanded Cinema (formerly called Stranger than Cinema).
Jeonju Hanok Village
Jeonju Hanok Village is a village in the city of Jeonju, South Korea, and overlaps with the Pungnam-dong and Gyo-dong neighborhoods. The village contains over 800 Korean traditional houses called ‘Hanok‘. The village is famous among Koreans and tourists because of its traditional buildings that strongly contrast with the modern city around it. The village was designated as an International Slow City in 2010 in recognition of its relaxed pace of life where traditional culture and nature blend harmoniously. The number of visitors to Jeonju Hanok Village has increased sharply since the 2000s. The visitor numbers more than doubled from 2007 to 2014, from 3.17 million to 7.89 million. Excluding Seoul, Jeonju is ranked third among major tourist cities throughout Korea, behind Jeju and Busan
The City of Jeonju has played a key role in the long history of Korea. The city was once the capital of the Hubaekje Kingdom, which was founded by Gyeon Hwon in the 900s. The city was regarded as the spiritual capital of the Joseon Dynasty because the Yi royal family was from there. In the Joseon Dynasty, Jeonju governed the Jeolla-do area along with Jeju Island, which was considered the center of administration. This is why the city is called ‘the ground of more than 1000 years history’.
People first settled in the Jeonju area over 10,000 years ago. At first, people lived around the foot of a mountain. Then, in the Silla kingdom, people moved into the flat land surrounding the mountain. People in Jeonju began constructing the city’s defensive wall and many villages naturally formed around the city. These villages were the beginning of the current Hanok village. After the demolition of the Jeonju’s city wall during the Korean Empire period, the residential area within the wall began to expand throughout the Pungnam-dong and Gyo-dong districts led by the Yangban. The village has become one of the most popular tourist attractions of Jeonju.
Located on the east side of Hanok Village is the place where Lee Seonggae, founder of the Joseon Dynasty, gave an outdoor banquet in Jeonju during his triumphant return to Gaegyeong after a victory over Japanese coastal invaders at Hwangsan Mt. It is located at a high elevation, making it a good place to view the surrounding scenery. Many tourists start their journey here.
In Korean: 오목대 ( Omokdae ), 이목대 ( Imokdae )
Address: 55 Girin-daero, Wansan-gu
Open year-round. Free admission.
The Jeonju Hyanggyo was a Confucian temple and school for students in Jeonju during the Joseon Dynasty period. It was first built by the King of Gongmin in 1354, during the Goryeo Dynasty period. It was originally located at the Gyeonggijeon Shrine site in Jeonju; however it was relocated twice after two wars. The main room in the shrine area, the Daeseongjeon (Confucian Shrine Hall), in located in the front, while the main room in the teaching area, the Myeongyundang (lecture hall), is located in the rear. This is an unusual configuration for a hyanggyo. In all, there are 99 rooms at the Jeonju Hyanggyo. It is the Korean Historical Treasure
Gyeonggijeon is the hall where the portrait of Lee Seonggae is enshrined. It was built in 1410, in the 10th year of King Taejong’s rule. Gyoenggijueon is designated as the Private Historical Landmark of Korea , while the portrait of Lee Seonggae itself is designated as the National Treasure .
Gyeonggijeon is located in front of the Jeonju Hanok Village, which is why many tourists come to see it first. Gyeonggijeon was once larger than it is now. The west side of Gyeonggijeon and its annex were demolished to make room for a Japanese elementary school during the period of Japanese Colonialism. The remaining building is a simple structure that connects a set of outer and inner gates.
In Korea: 경기 전 ( Gyeonggijeon )
Address: 44 Taejo-ro, Wansan-gu Entrance fee: 3,000
wons (approx. 2.20 euros)
Pungnam Gate is the south gate of the city wall that enclosed Jeonju during the Joseon Dynasty. It was the only remaining gate after the destruction of the wall. Pungnam Gate was designated as the National Treasure #308 on 21 January 1963. Jeonju was the provincial governor’s capital during the Joseon Dynasty, so it had a set of fortifications to enclose the city. It had gates in all 4 directions, but all of them were demolished in 30th year of King Seonjo’s rule (1597). After 3 years of repair work starting in 1978, the Pungnam Gate was restored. The column arrangement of the gate, especially the part located on the second story, is a very rare Korean building style.
Its architecture is quite unique, as its columns span the first and second floors of a wooden superstructure. You can’t visit the inside, but you can freely walk around it. In the evening, it is very nicely lit.
In Korean: 전주 풍남문 ( Jeonju Pungnammun )
Address: 1 Pungnammun 3-gil, Wansan-gu
Open all year round.
Jeondong Catholic Cathedral
The Jeondong Cathedral (Korean: 전동성당) also known as the Old Cathedral of Jeondong and now as the Jeondong Church of Francis Xavier is an important Catholic church in Jeonju, South Korea.
The cathedral building, of Roman-Byzantine style, was built between 1908 and 1914 by Victor Louis Poisnel (1855-1925). It is in the territory and under the supervision of François-Xavier Baudounet (1859-1915), a French priest, born in Mostuéjouls in Aveyron, in the same place where many Christians were martyred. This church, located in the city center, near the traditional Jeonju Hanok Village, is a historic site.
Currently a parish church, the cathedral belongs to the Diocese of Jeonju (Dioecesis Ieoniuensis or 전주 교구).
Sacred Heart Kindergarten is a facility attached to the cathedral, while Jeonju Sacred Heart Girls’ Middle School (Wheein and Hwasa’s former school) and Jeonju Sacred Heart Girls’ High School are nearby.
The Jeondong Catholic Church in Jeonju was completed in 1914 and was designed by Priest Poinel, who also designed the famous Myeongdong Cathedral in Seoul. It is the largest and oldest western-style structure in the Jeollanam-do and Jeollabuk-do provinces. The church was built where the first Korean Catholic martyr, Yun Ji-chung (1759-1791), died. It is one of South Korea’s three Catholic Churches, including the Myeongdong Cathedral in Seoul and the Gyesan Catholic Church in Daegu. The architectural style of the Jeondong Cathedral is a mixture of the Romanesque and Byzantine styles and is considered one of the most beautiful buildings in Korea.
In Korean: 전동성당 ( Jeondong Seongdang )
Address: 51 Taejo-ro, Wansan-gu
Open year-round. Free admission.
The Jeonju Hyanggyo is a hyanggyo (school) originally established at the Gyeonggijeon Shrine site in Jeonju, Korea, sometime early in the 15th century, during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910).Gyeonggijeon Shrine was erected in 1410 so construction of the Jeonju Hyanggyo had to follow sometime later.
At the time of the Second Japanese Invasion in 1592 the Gyeonggijeon Shrine and the Jeonju Hyanggyo were completely destroyed. In 1603 the hyanggyo was moved to and rebuilt at its present Jeonju location.
Unlike the more typical hyanggyo Jeonhakhumyo style described above at the Goheung Hyanggyo, The Jeonju Hyanggyo employees the less conventional style of being placed on level ground. The memorial enshrinement area centers on the Daeseongjeon (Confucian shrine hall) in the front, while the educational area centers on the Myeongyundang (lecture hall) that is located the rear. This is an unusual configuration for a hyanggyo. In all, there are a total of 99 rooms at the Jeonju Hyanggyo.
The Jeonju Hyanggyo is designated historical treasure
In Korean: 전주향교 ( Jeonju hyanggyo )
Address: 139 Hyanggyo-gil, Wansan-gu
Open 9am-6pm in summer, 10am-5pm in winter. Free admission.
Jaman Mural Village
Jaman Mural Village is located in the ridge between Omokdae and Imokdae along the foot of Seungamsan Mountain’s Jungbawi Rock. Jeonju Hanok Village is also visible from the wide street. Although it is a fairly steep walk up to Jaman Village, visitors will be able to enjoy colorful murals painted on the buildings and walls along the way
In Korean: 자만벽화마을 ( Jaman byeokhwa maeul )
Address: 1-10, Jamandong 1-gil, Wansan-gu
Open year-round. Free admission.
Jeonju is known as the “city of taste”. In fact, it owes its reputation to three elements: the cultivation of rice in the plain of Honam, that of wild vegetables in the surrounding mountains, as well as fishing in the waters of the Yellow Sea.
UNESCO has included Jeonju in its network of “creative cities””, because the city has made enormous efforts to maintain a centuries-old culinary tradition: exchanges with other Cities of Gastronomy, participation in international forums, support for local chefs, etc In short, it is a city where you can eat divinely well.
The bibimbap , this essential dish
Bibimbap (/ˈbiːbɪmbæp/ BEE-bim-bap, from Korean 비빔밥 [pi.bim.p͈ap̚], literally “mixed rice”), sometimes romanized as bi bim bap or bi bim bop, is a Korean rice dish. The term “bibim” means mixing rice (burned rice at the bottom of the dish and cooked rice), while the “bap” noun refers to rice. Bibimbap is served as a bowl of warm white rice topped with namul (sautéed and seasoned vegetables) or kimchi (traditional fermented vegetables) and gochujang (chili pepper paste), soy sauce, or doenjang (a fermented soybean paste). A raw or fried egg and sliced meat (usually beef) are common additions. The hot dish is stirred together thoroughly just before eating
Gyodong Dawon Tea House
There are several very nice teahouses in Jeonju , but this one is my favorite. We are here in a traditional wooden house, with a wide opening towards the garden through which we enter. The place is quiet and conducive to meditation and high quality tea.
If there were no more places, try your luck at Daho, at 12-3 Taejo-ro.
In Korean: 교동다원 ( Gyodong dawon )
Address: 65-5 Eunhaeng-ro, Gyo-dong, Wansan-gu
Open every day except Tuesday, from 11 am to 10:30 pm.
Jeonju Nambu Traditional Market opened as a regular public market in 1905 at the site of the Joseon-era Nammunbakk Market, located just outside the Southern gate to the city. Currently the market is comprised of about 800 stores with 1,200 workers selling vegetables, fruits, food, dried fish, furniture, silk goods, and general goods.
The market was revitalized with the creation of the Youth Market, located in the previously empty shops on the second floor of 6-dong. An influx of young shopkeepers and entrepreneurs has given the marketplace an exciting vibe like that found in Hongdae or Samcheong-dong.
The night market held on Fridays and Saturdays also draws in many visitors with a multitude of delicious treats, ranging from traditional dishes such as nokdujeon (mung bean pancake) to fusion treats like bibimbap served in rice paper like a spring roll.
In Korean: 전주 남부시장 ( Jeonju Nambu sijang )
Address: 2-242 Jeonong 3-ga, Wansan-gu,
Open year-round. Free admission.
Jeonju the cultural
Jeonju International Sori Festival
Founded in 2001, Jeonju International Sori Festival (전주세계소리축제) is South Korea’s main event for traditional music and, since 2011, world music. In 2012, 2013, and 2014, Songlines listed Jeonju Sori Festival among the World’s Best 25 International Festivals, the only Asian festival in the list.
In Korean: 전주 세계 소리 축제 ( Jeonju segye sori chukje )
Address: 1F Conference Hall, Sori Arts Center of Jeollabuk-do, Sori-31, Deockjin-gu, Jeonju-si
Website Internet: www.sorifestival.com