CONTRIBUTED BY JANVIKA SHAH
A culturally rich city, Jeonju was founded over a century ago, making it a tourist hotspot for both Koreans and foreigners. We chose to eat our way through the weekend, starting it off by sampling various street foods and beverages such as fried squid on a stick, chicken on a stick, ice beer and loaded ice cream.
We stayed at Carpediem Hostel which was a mere five minute walk from the famous Jeonju Hanok Village. The Hanok Village in Jeonju is the largest cluster of Hanoks, traditional Korean housing, in Korea. Hanoks vary in architectural design from region to region; however, they were all built with consideration to the surrounding natural landscape, hot summers and cool winters. It is even possible to stay in a Hanok during your time in Jeonju to truly experience the cultural tradition of the city.
The Hanok Village, albeit very crowded, was a feast for the senses. Korean males and females adorned in their Hanboks, traditional clothing, posed for pictures along the walls of the Hanoks, wafts of delicious fried street snacks floated through the air and live traditional music permeated the streets.
While stuffing your face with scrumptious snacks, you can also burn the calories by visiting famous sites and buildings within the village. Omokdae is particularly interesting as it was one of the places where Yi Seong-gye (who later became King Taejo, the first king of the Joseon Dynasty) stopped to celebrate his victory on his way home from a battle at Mt. Hwangsan with Japanese invaders in 1380. One of his forefathers also lived there.
Our weekend also happened to overlap the annual spring Jeonju International Film Festival. The screening of the movie that fit in with our Sunday schedule got canceled; however, it was apparent that this festival draws a diverse group of viewers.
To continue our eating tour, we sampled the Makgeolli, milky rice wine, Saturday night at a local place kindly reserved by our hostel’s owner. With each kettle of Makgeolli, you are served various accompanying dishes. We didn’t make it to the third round; however, I did get to sample live octopus offered by our table neighbors. Jeonju is the third largest producer of Makgeolli in Korea.
On Sunday, we tried the famous Jeonju bibimbap, a hearty dish of vegetables and rice topped off with sauce, beef or a fried egg. To finish off our weekend food adventure, we waited in line for an hour to try PNB’s famous Choco-pie. Established in 1951, this local bakery makes a heavenly chocolate smothered nutty bread sandwich with a butter cream and jelly filling, among other baked delights.
There was nothing like a full belly to induce a nap on the three-hour bus ride back to Daegu. You can get to Jeonju by bus from either the Daegu Inter-City East bus terminal or Dong Daegu’s express bus terminal.