Monday, August 5, 2013

DIY jeonju walking tour, part one

From the UNESCO website: The city of Jeonju, Republic of Korea has been appointed as the fourth UNESCO City of Gastronomy in May 2012. The nomination recognizes the city's undertaking of tangible measures to safeguard its culinary heritage, promote its local food and culture in an integrated manner. It demonstrates excellence in culinary infrastructure with many unique gastronomic assets and resources promoted through the various food festivals and vibrant local traditional markets.

So now do you understand why I had to go there?

But besides the food, the city itself is very interesting. Because we could stay for one night only, we spent most our time within Hanok Village which is famous for its traditional Korean architecture.

The buildings are relatively new, much younger than the city itself which has a 1200-year old history. Some snarkologists might say that it all looks fake, but I really admire the effort the people put into maintaining and preserving their traditions. I mean, they could very easily, and probably more cheaply, have built boxes of concrete and glass to live in.

Yez, there are residents. Hanok Village is not just for show.

I was particularly fascinated by the doors and gates.

I loved that there were pockets of greenery and water features everywhere. I bet Jeonju would be fabulous in autumn when the leaves start to change color.

I was quite excited to be in Hanok Village. I had done the research (of course) and I wanted to fit in as many "traditional learning culture centers" as I could in the short time that we were in town. There's the Jeonju Traditional Wine Museum, the Jeonju Traditional Hanji (handmade paper) Institute, the Jeonju Wood Engraving Calligraphy Experience Hall and a dozen other similar places. But I had a hell of time finding any of them. Like I mentioned before, hardly any of the signboards were in English.

I'm not sure how we ended up inside Gyodong Arts Center, but I enjoyed their little art exhibit.

We managed to locate the Fan Culture Center. They had a tiny but impressive collection of antique fans, and at the time that we visited, there was a paper fan decorating class going on.

I bought a few fans as souvenirs.

Later in the afternoon, on our way to Nambu Market, we dropped by the Jeondong Catholic Church. This Romanesque-Byzantine structure is designated as Historic Site 288, built on the very site where Catholic martyrs died during the Joseon Dynasty. It's very different from Philippine churches which are mostly Baroque.

More about Hanok Village here.

More about Jeondong Catholic Church here.

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