Jeonju: Post COVID-19

It’s been almost a year since I first came to Jeonju with my friends. While Seoul has many of the Joseon palaces made popular by Kdramas, the Yi family that created the dynasty had its roots here. In fact, Jeonju is one of the top tourist destinations outside of Seoul. 

But how has it fared after and during the events of COVID-19. Throughout Korea (and around the world) traveling to other countries has come to a stop. Outside of students, workers, and overseas Koreans, there hasn’t been anyone coming into Korea. 

When I arrived at Jeonju, the city itself was quite alive. Plenty of students and other adults were queued up for the bus; at one point a large group of high school students got on and made the bus uncomfortably packed. Hadn’t they learned about social distancing at school? 

But this has been my experience in a lot of the Korean communities untouched by COVID-19. Any sense of caution has been thrown out the window by many of the younger adults and children and I hope it doesn’t come back to bite us. 

We already had several new surges in COVID-19 cases that resulted in texts from admins to avoid the entire metropolitan area of Seoul. So I complied and went the opposite direction down to Jeonju. 

It was a peaceful getaway to have a weekend where I could just focus on photography and enjoy the nice weather. Last year I remember the streets of the Hanok Village being quite filled. Jeonju is home to universities that attract international students and the city is a reasonable travel distance from Seoul making it a popular destination. 

But this weekend, I mostly saw locals roaming about. Primarily younger families with small children, with some people going through Gyeonggijeon in hanbok. 

It was more obvious when I sat down for dinner. When I arrived, there were only two other patrons, and after they left I had the whole restaurant to myself. The food was good and the restaurant is in a good location. I recall it being fairly busy when I last came to Jeonju. 

Without a vaccine, I think and hope that many in Korea start looking towards visiting places within Korea instead of running off to other countries. Prior to COVID-19, I had planned out some foreign trips but many of them are on hold until situations change. 

And that’s okay with me. There’s so much of Korea that I still have to explore as places start to reopen. I’m still adjusting to the new normal here at school, and I think for many people it’s going to take some time to get used to it. 

On a more positive note, I was able to acquire some boxes of PNB Choco Pies. For friends back home, these look very similar to moon pies and oriental stores will sometimes carry them from a company called Orion. 

What’s special about these PNB Choco Pies is their rich flavor. You pay a premium for them as a result, but once you taste them, having a normal choco pie just isn’t the same. If you’re ever in the area, they have a shop not far from the train station so that you don’t have to travel all the way to the Hanok Village. 

But really, if you’re visiting Jeonju and you haven’t visited the Hanok Village yet, it’s really something to add to your list. You can check out our new guide to Jeonju here as well. What are your summer plans? Please let me know in the comments below.   

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