Posted by Marisa
Marisa's picture

This past weekend we took Jed on a quick trip to Jeonju to see the traditional Hanok village.  They have one of the largest surviving groups of traditional Korean houses there and it's a big tourist destination in our province.  We were lucky enough to go on the same day as some sort of festival; we think they were celebrating the deity in a tree.  We made a little video about our experience, some things to look out for are: jump roping, a cute puppy and Marisa dancing. 

Party in Jeonju

30 Nov 2008
Posted by Marisa
Marisa's picture

Yesterday, Jordan and I had the pleasure of being invited by my co-teacher Ms Park to her home in Jeonju. We met her and her carpool at my school around 12:30 (since all the Korean have school on Saturday for some reason, apparently they just have clubs on Saturday). Jeonju is about an hour drive from Gunsan and there are three teachers, including Ms Park, who share the commute everyday. We got dropped off at Ms Park's new apartment (very large) and then left with her daughter for lunch. Her daughter is currently in the midst of applying to Seoul National University (the Harvard of Korea) and if she gets in, Ms Park is going to have a big party. I have it on good authority that the daughter (her name was never disclosed) is very smart, always at the top of her class, so I guess she has a good shot.

We went to lunch in the downtown at a Vietnamese restaurant. At first we thought she was taking us to a "vitamin house," but eventually figured out that she meant Vietnamese. I guess foreigners like Vietnamese food (we like it quite a lot) so she took us there. Jeonju is about twice the size of Gunsan, and so has luxuries like Vietnamese food. We had some very tasty noodles and dim sum (although dim sum is Chinese....) and then took a little walk around the downtown. We have become very curious since visiting Matthew and now Jeonju to find our downtown because everywhere we have visited has had very nice pedestrian only shopping districts with lots of exciting things. So one of these days we must venture out and see if we can find the Gunsan downtown.

Eating Out

The day was completely freezing despite having started out as a warm day, so we hustled through our next tour of the traditional village in Jeonju. It was a very cute place with lots of traditional houses filled with shops, restaurants and museums, as well as some really old buildings that were once the spiritual capital of the Joseon dynasty. The first king of this dynasty came from Jeonju, so it has a bit of fame. It was really cold though, so we hurried back after a little tour to Ms Park's house.

Jeonju 20

She had just moved apartments about a week ago, but her home looked remarkably organized, and she gave us a pleased tour of her very large apartment. It makes our apartment look like tiny place. I also saw the kimchi fridge, where the family keeps their year's supply of kimchi. Apparently all Koreans have a kimchi fridge, I don't know where ours is, and since it's kimchi making time, they are all full to bursting. At dinner we were able to taste both fresh kimchi and fermented kimchi made by Ms Park's mother, which was much better than the stuff we're served at school. Apparently over 20 seasonings go into the kimchi when it's being prepared, so there's a big range in taste. Since Jordan liked the kimchi so much, we were sent home with a large quantity of our own to put in our normal fridge, since we don't have a kimchi fridge. The phenomena of kimchi is quite amazing. Who would think that there would be a whole race of people completely addicted to eating at every single meal spicy, fermented cabbage. If you told me I had to eat spicy, fermented cabbage at every meal for the rest of my life I would think it was a severe punishment. But to the Koreans, a day without kimchi is like a day without air, unthinkable.

Ms Park had determined that she would teach me how to cook like a Korean, so I helped her with dinner. Although many of the things seemed to have been premade by her mother and we just dumped them into a pot. So, I guess I have to convince my mom to come over and start making things so that I can cook like a Korean. We made a tasty chicken stew, and some beef bulgogi (which I think is a mushroom sauce). I also made a salad and we roasted some hot dogs (which I think were just there for me and Jordan, but there was so much food we could hardly eat it). The highlights of the dinner were probably either when I started flinging food around with my chopsticks (despite my normal ability to eat like a normal person with them) or when Jordan thought the teapot full of Soju (watered down vodka) was water. Jordan also proved his manliness to everyone at the table by eating the hot peppers that Mr Park was eating (we call him Mr Park because he was never introduced to us beyond being Ms Park's husband, and I don't actually think women change their name upon marriage here, but for want of something to call him we call him Mr Park). After eating the first spicy pepper, Ms Park had to find the even hotter peppers in the freezer, to give Jordan the ultimate test. Luckily for me, I think being a girl keeps me from having to partake in such manly contests, as no one but Jordan thought I should taste the pepper. And since Jordan puts on such a good show with his pepper eating, I didn't want to ruin it by having a panic when I ate one.

Ms Park had invited over her English teacher friend as well, so we passed a very pleasant evening discussing many different things, from Michael Jackson and Obama, to the phrase "who cut the cheese" (which apparently Jordan has never heard, please tell him this is weird). All the English teachers here like talking to us because we are very easy to understand (thanks to our Midwest upbringing I always tell them) unlike the newscasters on CNN whom they can't understand. It was a very nice, relaxing evening, aside from my flying food, and Ms Park has determined that next time we come we will spend the night in her extra bedroom and we will teach her to make pizza.

This is a secret video that Jordan took of the cooking excitement while loafing on the couch.

To see more picture from the trip, visit the album at flickr.