Old and new Korea in Jeonju


We went to Jeonju to see the hanok village, the city’s old town full of wooden houses, that has been speared the rapid (re)construction most cities here have seen. Now it’s a quiet gathering of low buildings, cobblestone streets, cafés, guesthouses and craft shops. There are people still living here, but most of the centre has become dedicated to the hordes of Korean tourists we came across on our visit.

We arrived on a Saturday evening, which meant the weekly demonstration against president Park Geun-hye over a corruption scandal. It also meant night market at Nambu-sijang.

Jeonju is proud to call itself the home of the Joseon dynasty, which ruled Korea for over 500 years until 1910. The founder of the dynasty Yi Seong-gye came from Jeonju and a replica of his portrait can be seen at the palace Gyeonggijeon, which sits as a centrepiece in the old town.

I complained about the air quality already in our last post and we had one particularly bad day in Jeonju as well. It wasn’t like this when we first arrived in Korea (or we didn’t notice it?) – it seems to have gotten worse the last few weeks.

On a hill near the old town is Jaman village, full of small, private homes. It has been given a colourful makeover and now, despite a simple original appearance, houses many rather pricey cafés. And a bit of “wildlife.”


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