May 10, 2012 11:40
Jeonju in North Jeolla Province is famous for its delicious food, history of traditional paper-making, and now also its film festival. But the province has much more to offer enthusiasts of Korean culture and history. Having ramped up its promotional activities to draw tourists to the region this year, it is operating a bus tour program from Seoul whereby to visit various tourist destinations in the area for those on a tight budget.
The first stop is Hanji Museum in Jeonju, which opened in 1997. It provides all kinds of information about traditional Korean paper from its history to where the industry is heading in the future as well as manufacturing methods and various uses. Displayed artifacts include craftworks, document cabinets, needle cases and jars. Although made from paper, they still maintain their original forms even a millennium after they were crafted. The museum also provides visitors with the chance to make traditional Korean paper themselves.
Jeonju is famous for bibimbap, or rice with an assortment of vegetables and beef. The delicious dish delights the eyes with the colorful decorations on top. It uses only the white rice produced from the area that is not too sticky or dry. As the rice is cooked in beef broth, locals claim it looks and tastes better than the regular dish found in other areas. Bibimbap is also served in brassware so that the fragrance of sesame oil does not disappear and the vegetables can be kept fresh while maintaining the rice at a constant temperature.
The southwestern city is also known as the home of the pansori epic chant, and visitors can learn how to sing traditional songs at a hanok village in Jeonju, North Jeolla Province. Sitting in a wooden pavilion with hanok, or traditional homes, in the background, people can listen to a master singer and repeat his or her lines one after another.
The town fortress in Gochang is another must-see place. The walkway along the fortress wall has been picked as one of the most beautiful streets in the nation. Built in preparation for foreign invasions in 1543, the fortress surrounds a mountain and has been preserved comparatively well. In spring time, it offers magnificent scenery in harmony with the azaleas. While walking along the soil on the fortress wall, visitors feel as if they have stepped back in time to the period 500 years earlier.
The next destination is the cluster of dolmens, or portal graves, in Gochang. Along with two other dolmen sites in Hwasun, South Jeolla Province, and Ganghwa Island near Incheon, it has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. About 70 percent of the world's dolmens can be found in Korea. Visitors can either walk or take a mini train to look around the area. The last stop in Gochang is Seonun Temple. Nestled in the foot of 336-m high Mt. Dosol, it commands a beautiful view and is known for its camellia flowers.
The tour bus then heads to the Saemangeum tidal embankment via the Byeonsan Peninsula. Nicknamed the "Great Wall of the Sea," the 33 km-long seawall offers majestic views. An exhibition center is located in the middle of the embankment to give further glimpses of the ongoing land reclamation project in the area.
Although the tour lasts only two days, its itinerary covers a broad sweep of interesting tourist destinations in the province. For more information, visit the website of the tour operator at www.nbtour.co.kr. For festivals or other interesting events that take place throughout the year in the province, visit http://www.gojb.net.
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