Hong Sammy Reporter
An area of agriculture, Jeollabuk-do, is full of small towns and villages that have inherited the spirit of agriculture and farming. Leaving Jeonju westbound, you will meet up with fresh rural areas: Gochang and Gimje. Each of these regions shows a facet of the countryside, possessing the landscape of the horizon and the green barley field. The festivals held in those landscapes are renowned on a national scale. On a balmy spring day, visiting peaceful fields filled with verdant sprouts will make a refreshing day for you.
Gochang is famous for historic sites. Gochang holds time from prehistory to the Joseon dynasty, until now. Before browsing the historical sites, let’s look at some agricultural sites in Gochang.
● Agricultural Landscape: Green Barley Field
Gochang is famous for its green barley field. It attracts tourists in the springtime with endless green scenery. Starting in April, green barley grows all over the fields. This is the season when the Green Barley Festival is held. Gochang is a suitable agricultural zone to harvest barleys. In particular, Borinara Hakwon Farm, a farm run by individuals, is a famous tourist spot where you can enjoy various rural environments. An enjoyable activity is walking through the pathway of the enormous barley farm, which is about one-million square meters large. In summer, the sunflowers are in full bloom. Yellow flowers match their color in fresh green fields. After hot weather, when the wind blows over? through? the field, the buckwheat flowers start to bloom. The floral language of the buckwheat flower is “lovers”. This is the place where the proposal scene from the Korean drama “The Goblin” took place. The farm became so popular after being aired in the drama. Visitors take memorable photos in front of the wooden door where the main characters of the drama passed through.
- Location: 158-6, Hagwonnongjang-gil, Gongeum-myeon, Gochang-gun, Jeollabuk-do
- Admission Fee: Free
- Operating Hours: Walking path -(Daily?) Sunrise-sunset Restaurant & snack bar - 09:00-19:00
- Website: http://www.borinara.co.kr/
● Enjoy the Summer: Bokbunja and Watermelon Festival
Every hot summer, Gochang is open to visitors trying to escape the heat wave. Sometime in late June, the annual Gochang Bokbunja and Watermelon festival is held at Seonunsan Provincial park for three days. Bokbunja is a Korean black raspberry, and watermelon is the local specialty of Gochang. By enjoying these local delicacies, visitors will soon forget the hotness of summer. There are also some activities to enjoy, such as eel fishing, strolling through the watermelon tunnel, watermelon curling, engaging in a water gun fight, and much more.
- Location: Seonunsan Provincial Park: 158-6, Seonunsa-ro, Gochang-gun, Jeollabuk-do
- Admission Fee: Free
- Website: http://www.goboksu.co.kr/
● Gochang Dolmen Site & Museum
Dolmen, the Korean tombs from prehistoric ages, are closely set in several spots in Gochang. Gochang is one of the three main regions in Korea where such dolmens are distributed. The Gochang dolmen site is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, since it is known for having the highest dolmen density in the world. Starting from the museum to the dolmen site, there are six courses for the tourists to follow. Visitors can walk or ride an explorer train, Moromoro, to visit the dolmen site. The third course is the most famous course where various dolmens are located.
- Location: 74 Goindolgongwon-gil, Gochang-eup, Gochang-gun, Jeollabuk-do
- Museum Admission Fee: Adults 3,000 won / Youth 2,000 won
- Moromoro Train fee: Adults 1,000 won / Youth 700 won
- Operating Hours: 9:00-18:00 (Winter 9:00-17:00) / closed on Mondays and New Year’s Day
- Website: http://www.gochang.go.kr/gcdolmen/index.gochang
● Seonunsa Temple
Most of the Buddhist temples in Korea are located deep in the forest. Seonunsa is a temple where you can feel quiet stillness. The walkway leading to Seonunsa temple is famous for its beauty throughout all the seasons. This trecking course beside the stream gives a pleasing view. The autumn colors of the leaves are very beautiful when the leaves are changing or transforming into various colors. There is a “Temple Stay” program available for visitors to take part in. It gives them a chance to experience the temple like the monks, who live there.
- Location: 250 Seonunsa-ro, Asan-myeon, Gochang-gun, Jeollabuk-do
- Admission Fee: Adults 3,000 won / Youth: 2,000 won
- Temple Stay: Adults 50,000 won / Youth & Children 30,000 won (per night)
- Operating Hours: 5:00-20:00 (Open all year round)
- Website: http://www.seonunsa.org/
In Korea, there is the one and only horizon at Gimje. By tasting rice grown from the endless fields, and looking around the areas where Korean history took place, visitors will enjoy taking the time to see this traditional part of Korea.
● The Heart of Korea’s Agriculture: Gimje Horizon
The Gimje Horizon Festival is held from late September to early October every year since 1999. Most of the festivities take place in Byeokgolje reservoir, which is located in the middle of the Honam agricultural area. This festival is tightly scheduled, so that a lot of visitors can enjoy from the early morning to evening. Most of the programs need to be reserved beforehand, so look it up on the website. Gimje Byeokgolje reservoir is considered to be keeping the oldest and largest rice farming culture in Korea. It was built during the three kingdom period. Even outside the festival period, there are many attractions to see in Gimje. Byeokgolje Museum of Agricultural Culture shows the irrigation facilities and the history of rice farming. Ssangnyong, which is an enormous dragon couple statue, is a landmark of Byeokgolje. Likewise, visitors can look around Byeokgolje for all day long.
- Location: 442, Byeokgolje-ro, Buryang-myeon, Gimje-si, Jeollabuk-do
- Admission Fee: Free / some festivities charges
- Website: http://festival.gimje.go.kr/
● Arirang Literature Village & Museum
Arirang is a Korean folk song, as well as a novel, written by author Jo Jung-rae, which contains the Korean history of the Japanese colonial era. The Japanese plundered Gimje specifically, where rice was produced the most. At the Arirang Literature Village, these exploit institutions and Harbin Station are restored. Visitors can rent a former school uniform, rubber shoes, and a rickshaw to experience the atmosphere of the time. Additionally, there is the Arirang Literature Museum nearby. Jo Jung-rae is a writer who tells stories about the Korean division and the human rights of which the Korean public was deprived by the Japanese. The museum is one way to recover the ethnic resentment. The museum introduces Jo Jung-rae’s works and praises the Korean ethnic spirit.
- Location :
Arirang Literature Museum: 24, Yongseong 1-gil, Buryang-myeon, Gimje-si, Jeollabuk-do,
Arirang Literature Village: 180, Hwacho-ro, Juksan-myeon, Gimje-si, Jeollabuk-do
- Admission Fee: Free
- Operating Hours: 9:00-18:00, 9:00-17:00 (November to February), closed on Mondays
- Website: http://tour.gimje.go.kr
Gochang and Gimje are the regions where visitors can truly, strongly feel the traditions of Korean ancestors. The history from the prehistoric times to the present is drawn on the field of both cities. Moreover, the local specialties give the visitors a favorable memory of the agriculture in Jeollabuk-do. Leaving from Jeonju, it only takes no more than a day to visit each of these local areas. On a warm spring weekend, visiting these refreshing rural areas will bring a vital moment for you.