I have friends who visit Jeonju at least once a year. Every time they visit, they have high expectations over where to go and what to eat. I’ve been a resident of Jeonju for 20 years already, but still, impressing my friends hasn’t always been the easiest job. This year, we spent a night together at Jeonju Hanok Village. Let’s see how this went this time.
Korean rib barbeque and red bean noodle in a hanok restaurant
Jeonju Hanok Village is home to about 800 “hanok” (traditional Korean building) buildings that boast traditional beauty of Korea. I especially love Jeonju Hanok Village in winter, when the black-tiled hanok roofs and bright-red persimmons stand out in snow. But when I visited, it was more windy than snowy.
Two days are not enough for Jeonju. We wanted to make good use of time by having dinner early evening before proceeding to drinking makgeolli (Korean rice wine) at night. We had dinner at “Hanokjip”, a restaurant specializing in charcoal barbequed Korean rib. Here, we didn’t have to worry about our clothes smelling of the barbeque, because the ribs were already barbequed before being served. We only had to cut the rib into pieces, dip a piece in the sauces, wrap the piece with the vegetables, and enjoy the wrap’s flavors and textures. I also had a bowl of cold noodle.
I was already full, but we couldn’t miss the famous Jeonju makgeolli. We proceeded to a makgeolli place in the Dongmun Street, next to Jeonju Hanok Village. The place was already busy with people taking shelter from the long winter night. We ordered “a couple’s table” menu which, as always, surprised my friends with the large variety of dishes offered alongside the old brass kettle filled with the fresh rice wine.
On our way back home, we passed through the alleyways of the Hanok Village. Our stomachs were full, but we still talked about our plan to eat patjuk (red bean soup) the next day.
Spending a night at the “imperial” hanok stay, Seunggwangjae
Well into the night, we arrived at our ‘imperial’ hanok accommodation, “Seunggwangjae”. This place is the home to Mr. Lee Seok, the last surviving descendent of the Korean imperial household. He hosts visitors in one of the buildings. My friends were surprised to find out that such an important person is living in Jeonju, hosting visitors.
Seunggwangjae is less than five minutes’ walk away from the Jeonju Hanok Village public parking. Our talks, ranging from the everyday life to history, continued into the late winter night.
The next morning, our hostess made the breakfast table for us. Each of us received the Joseon Dynasty style small dining table. On the table were tteokguk (rice cake soup), gondre bap (steamed rice with thistle), pan-fried Chinese cabbage, and side dishes. I especially liked the fragrance of gondre.
After breakfast, we had a tea time with our host couple. Mr. Lee Seok shared with us very interesting stories of his early life in the palace, the turbulent modern Korean history, and how he spends time these days.
Overnight in Jeonju Hanok Village
On our way to Seunggwangjae last night, we passed through the stone walled alleyway next to Gyeonggijeon Palace and Jeondong Cathedral. We also had grilled cheese and chicken skewers for night snacks.
On the second day, we visited Omokdae Pavilion, famous for the view overlooking Jeonju Hanok Village, before heading to Jaman Mural Village. Those murals reminded me of my childhood.
We also walked the alleyways between the old hanok buildings. I’m always fascinated by the alleyways of the Hanok Village, boasting the traditional beauty. We kept walking on the Jeonjuchun River trail.
The new year needs a new well-wishing remark. I decided to keep the advice of Mr. Lee Seok, “empty mind” for this year’s remark. The memories of the overnight in Jeonju Hanok Village with my loving friends will be cherished for a long time.
Hanokjip (Korean rib barbeque)
Address: Samgeo 1-gil 67, Deokjin-gu, Jeonju
Dongmunjuga (rice wine)
Address: Dongmun-gil 50, Wansan-gu, Jeonju
Namchunmaru (red bean noodle and soup)
Address: Gyodong 183-2, Wansan-gu, Jeonju
Choimyunghee-gil 12-6, Wansan-gu, Jeonju