CONTRIBUTED BY CHRISTINE BRUNS
I recently had the opportunity to take a day-long trip to Yeoju courtesy of the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO), as a member of the “Global Group on Cultural and Tourism Festivals” – what an awesome day I had! The itinerary consisted of a visit to the Hwanghaksan Arboretum, lunch at a Han-jeongsik restaurant, a few hours at the Yeoju Ogok Naru Festival, and a tour of the grounds of the Silleuksa Temple. It was a very full day, and I took many, many pictures!
Our first stop was the Hwanghaksan Arboretum, which had some impressive sculptures at the entrance. Due to the time of year, I was hoping for some great fall foliage shots and I was not disappointed.
The grounds are pretty extensive, as you saw from the map, with a variety of themed gardens and a greenhouse building. It would be great for a leisurely day with the family or friends – hiking the grounds and exploring the different plants on display. There is even a Forest Museum – a large, multi-level structure that has interactive displays for adults and children, a cafe, event rooms, and art displays.
One fun area of the park was the Pot Garden, where I snapped a picture of the neighborhood bees visiting the chrysanthemums.
I was also thrilled to find they have a tree labyrinth – it made me “pine” for the corn and hay bale mazes back home. By using the tried and true method of always following the same side wall (seriously, always touch only the right or left wall – it works!), I made it out pretty quickly.
The next stop on our tour of Yeoju was lunch (which I really needed after all of the walking at the arboretum!), and we stopped off at a Han-jeongsik restaurant for a Korean Table d’hote meal.
The table was crammed full of main and side dishes! The meal centered around a steaming bowl of Yeoju rice, which required you to add some broth to the hot pot to get every yummy morsel. I was brave a tried a little bit of each dish, including the octopus, crab, and sting ray.
After we ate our fill, we hopped back on the bus to go to the festival. Along the way, we passed a statue of King Sejong the Great in the center of town. After looking through a pamphlet about Yeoju attractions, I realized that his royal tomb is in Yeoju! This means the Bruns clan will be headed back for a trip in the future!
Next stop was the Yeoju Ogok Naru Festival, held by the Namhangang River port and Silleuksa Temple site each year to celebrate Yeoju’s successful fall harvest. Yeoju’s major crops include rice and sweet potatoes, as well as peanuts, melons, and peaches. I was excited to wander the festival and see what it had to offer. Looking at the map, there was quite a large area to explore, with a variety of activities: live performances, a petting zoo, vendors selling food and crafts, displays, and interactive events. Definitely check it out if you visit in the fall.
In the same area as the festival was the Yeoju Dojasesang – an area dedicated to local pottery and ceramics, as well as some live performances. I ventured inside and found a treasure trove of ceramics to pick from; I may have left a few things there for others to buy!
Our final stop on this day was a tour of the Silleuksa Temple. You can visit the grounds for just around 2,000 won ($2). The entrance and gate were beautifully decorated.
Buildings on the grounds included a water fountain, a music building with a giant drum and bell inside, various pavilions, and the temple building itself.
There are also two immense and beautiful trees on the grounds that are each over 600 years old – a ginko tree and a juniper tree. It’s amazing to me that they have withstood the trials of time and war in Korea.
How to get to Yeoju:
1 Gangnam Express Bus Terminal (every 30 minutes) ↔ Yeoju Bus Terminal
2 East -Seoul Express Bus Terminal (every 30 minutes) ↔ Yeoju Bus Terminal
3 Icheon Bus Terminal (every 30 minutes, Bus No.111) ↔ Yeoju Bus Terminal
4 From Seoul: Jungbu Expressway → Hobeop I.C →Yeongdong Expressway →Yeoju I.C → Yeoju City Hall
5 From Janghowon, Yangpyeong: Take the #37 national road → Yeoju City Hall
6 From Icheon: Take #42 national road → Yeoju City Hall
Want to do some serious ceramics shopping? Check out this other Korea Ye Post: Yeoju Pottery Shopping
You can find a full write-up of this trip on my blog (with more pictures) at: