A city founded on its legendary access to the cleanest and most pure water, Jeonju was the birthplace of the Joseon Empire, which reigned for five centuries. How can the qualities of water inspire an empire? Well, pure water makes the brightest, finest and most durable paper, and an empire spreads its influence with the documents it produces. So out of the wellspring of Jeonju flowed the story of an empire, capturing the attention of all the surrounding territories. And it was no small matter that the waters of Jeonju ensured that the local production of Makgeolli, a sweet-rice-based alcohol, was second to none. So, virtue or vice? Both it would seem played a role in propelling the Joseon Empire to greatness.
Naturally, with the city of Jeonju being a center of wealth and prestige, its urban development was top quality and, consequently, durable. So today it stands out as one of the few places visitors can get a taste of life as the Koreans of old would have lived it. From palace to humble home, shops to tea houses, all is on display to aid you in your journey back in time.
Sadly, during the 1970s, as Korea transitioned from a rural society to a modern high-tech industrial powerhouse, many of the traditional homes, or Hanoks as they are called, were demolished to make room for modern high-rise buildings to house the ever-growing population. It wasn’t until around 2000 that Koreans began to look more closely at their past and had a renewed interest in the traditional architecture of Hanoks. Many have been restored, and people of means are once again choosing to live Hanok-style to get back to tradition.