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Named a UNESCO City of Gastronomy in 2012, Jeonju has a buzzy food scene and some wonderful historical architecture to gawk at. A major tourist destination for Korean travelers, it is yet to get onto the international travel list. The capital of North Jeolla Province, it is a mix of urban delights and rural calm. Famous for being the birthplace of both the Joseon Dynasty and more importantly for the foodies, Korea's most loved culinary wonder, the "bibimbap" - rice meat, egg and vegetables with a hot sauce. The traditions of home cooking have been handed down through generations for eons and it has an active public and private food research sector, a belief in nurturing talented chefs and the city hosts dynamic local food festivals.
Jeonju is the perfect base to explore Jeollabuk-do as it is the transport hub for buses and trains. Traditional wooden homes, or "hanok" as they are known, dot the central village housing cute tea houses, artisan workshops and museums to explore. There are literally hundreds of these hanoks with their whitewashed mud walls and secret courtyards arranged around cobblestoned laneways, such as Jeonju Hanok Maeul sitting right in the heart of the city.
Korea's longest and the last political dynasty, Yi Seong-gye came from Jeonju and you can check out his memorial tablet and portrait at the Gyeonggijeon Palace that was built in 1410 and reconstructed in 1614. You can put your head down on a pillow in a guesthouse owned by the grandson of Korea's last king - maybe not a pillow but a mat on the floor! You should check out the hillside shantytown of Jaman Village, which came to life after the Korean War. Artists have given it a makeover by splashing murals everywhere. Make sure you enjoy some street food and all of the quirky and weird tastes on offer in the salubrious surrounds of choking traffic and jostling backpackers or head to the night market to try whole-wheat hotteok (griddle cakes) or for those not too daring, the fried squid.
Remember when you order your bibimbap, make sure you get the mung bean sprout jelly (a local delicacy) to go with it.
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