South Korea Travels: Meeting with the King
It’s not often that I get to meet influential people like Mr. Yi Seok. The house of Yi has been linked with the Joseon kings that are popularized in K-Dramas. The five palaces in Seoul come from this same period, and the Joseon Dynasty lasted over 500 years.
While Seoul has long been the capital of Korea, Jeonju can be considered the spiritual heart of the nation. Jeonju is a place where you can experience traditional Korean food, check out historical buildings, and take in a wide range of festivals throughout the year.
Here’s a bit of background on Mr. Yi Seok. He’s the grandson of Joseon’s last king and first Emperor of Korea, Gojong. His father was the fifth son of the king and has resided in Jeonju since the early 2000s.
The Yi clan that he descends from has resided in Jeonju since before the Joseon dynasty. Joseon’s founder, Yi Seong-gye (later king Taejo) started the Joseon Dynasty in a coup that overthrew the Goryeo Dynasty.
A Tea Ceremony
After donning our hanbok, we made our way to Seong Kwang Jae (승광재), Mr. Yi Seok’s residence, and guesthouse. In addition to the tea, we were able to enjoy various Korean snacks, fruits, and other food while we talked with the king’s grandson.
During the 1960s, he became a singer and musician, and he was persuaded to sing us a couple of songs. He also impressed us with his language abilities, speaking in both Spanish and English with ease.
We got to talk with him some, and of course, get our pictures taken together with him. Seong Kwang Jae offers a beautiful look at the hanok style that you can see throughout the hanok village. It was interesting to see the hanok juxtaposed with the more modern and taller buildings nearby.
The Jeonju Hanok Village
Nearby, you can find several shops that will rent hanboks that you can wear throughout the village. There’s also cafes and restaurants in cozy hanoks to enjoy. You can easily spend a day or weekend in Jeonju, and it’s easily accessible from Seoul by train or bus.
What part of Jeonju are you excited to see? We invite you to let us know in the comments. If you’ve been to Jeonju, why not tag us in your Jeonju pics at @southkoreatravels.