Surrounded by South Korea’s fields in the heart of North Jeolla Province, Jeonju is a relatively small city renowned across the country for its food, historic centre and festivals that is only now being discovered by international visitors.
While much of the city is a modern sprawl, albeit one where green hills and rice paddies are never too far away, almost all of Jeonju’s attractions can be found in its Hanok Village. This a neighbourhood of some 800 traditional wood-framed houses line a maze of cobbled streets, one of the largest such areas in Korea, and feels like a step back in time after the neon and glass of Seoul. Some a still private homes but many are now guesthouses, artisan workshops, tea houses, small museums and restaurants.
And food is the primary reason Jeonju is so loved by Koreans, just a day wandering between food stalls will tell you why it has been designated a UNESCO City of Gastronomy. It most famous as being the home of bibimbap (a much-loved bowl of a bowl of warm white rice topped with sautéed vegetables, chili pepper paste, fermented soybean paste and a raw egg), but most everything you sample here from dumplings and pancakes to makgeolli rice spirit and tea once reserved for kings is to be savoured.