Apr 122024

Before I dive into more Jeonju fun, I just want to say that I am disappointed not to mention OFFENDED that not a single person reached out to me yesterday after the news broke of OJ Simpson’s death, but OK. Cook on.

After leaving Cafe Tirol, Jiyong drove us back into Jeonju to show us the new restaurant that she and her husband are in the process of opening! At the time of this blog post, they’re doing a soft opening. I can’t wait to go back and eat here!

When they were living in Pittsburgh, Jiyong’s husband, Hyunjin, was a chef at a French restaurant and was always working when she and I hung out so I actually had only met him once, on my last hang out with her! He came to pick her up and deliver a huge bag of Korean snacks to me as a parting gift. It was so sweet and I was glad to meet him finally! Anyway, it was great to see him again, and have him sign as our second witness!

Jiyong did all of the interior design here too with no experience, no background, and I was blown away – it 100% looked like a professional consulting group came in with their color wheel and did their thing. She was so worried about it, but I was like, “YO. This is stunning!” I think this was Henry’s favorite part of the day, getting to walk around and like, I dunno, knock on beams and squint at electrical outlets. I don’t know what he looks at, but it’s not the pretty colors and aesthetics, that’s for sure. I’m surprised our guy didn’t pull a level out of his ass and start inspecting shelving, etc.

I’m going back there soon. I have to. They have arancini!

By this time, it was starting to rain really hard so Hyunjin drove us into the touristy hanok village where we were having bibimbap at Jiyong’s favorite restaurant! As travelers who have only really used the subway or our feet as the primary form of transport, it was bonkers being passengers in a car crawling down narrow alleys while people and scooters hogged the street. Usually, we are among the pedestrians trying to stay out of the way, so this was a fun new POV.

We walked in and Jiyong got us seated within seconds and within several more seconds, banchan was placed on the table for us. Chooch whispered, “Can she come with us everywhere?” LOL, seriously!

Anyway, this place was called Hanguk Jip, or Korea House. According to the tea cup, it was established in 1952!

I am certain I have detailed my love for bibimbap using many words and probably several raunchy sex analogies many time, but to recap: this was actually the first Korean food I ever had, and unknowingly at that. This bitch that I used to be friends with back in the day had a friend whose family owned a restaurant in Oakland and we would go there occasionally to see her.  Back in 1999, I didn’t know that the family was Korean, that the restaurant was Korean, that I had fallen in love with a traditional Korean dish. But, that’s exactly what happened. And I couldn’t never remember the name of it!! Ignorant whitey that I was, I would say to Christine, “Let’s go visit Meesh because I want that boppy thing.” Ugh. Kill 20-year-old me, please.

But yeah, it was a big deal because it was something that I could without meat, which is why I initially gravitated toward it.

Flash forward decades later, and this was our second time in the hometown of said boppy thing! Bibimbap is said to originate in Jeonju. Jiyong said that it noticeably is sans egg, because in Jeonju they believe that the egg yolk messes with the intended flavor of the dish, so that’s a difference in case you were wondering. Meanwhile, in one of the restaurants we had bibimbap at in Busan, there are eggs on the table so you can crack your own and dump it in!

Not all bibimbap is the same but most bibimbap is delicious!

Especially if you like gochujang. Which I do. I really really really do.

We talked about other Korean food and Jiyong asked if I liked nangmyeon, which is a cold noodle dish. I admitted to her that the first time I had it, I did not like it, but there was some underlying essence of it that made me come back for more and now it’s one of my favorites.

“With mustard and vinegar,” I said, rolling my eyes back.

“You’re Korean!” Jiyong laughed, and if you ask Chooch and Henry how many times I reminisced about this one short phrase throughout the rest of the trip, they will likely force themselves to astral project to a land where there is no Erin.


We had a bottle of makgeolli too and it felt like a real pre-celebration!

I’m getting really emotional as I remember this day. I have loved all of our trips to South Korea but this one really felt so much more personal. Having friends there now. Being so familiar with our surroundings. Having confidence with the language. I really feel like something shifted and I came back changed, in a really good way. (I mean, once the growing pains ceased and I quit crying and acting like a monster because I couldn’t process the emotions stemmed from our departure, I was able to notice a difference in myself!)

After lunch, we walked around in the sporadic rain. I loved how quiet the rain was making the area, because this place gets PACKED. We were there in July of 2019 and as the day got later, the people were just pouring in. So it was nice to see it almost as if it were just a regualr neighborhood and not a popular tourist destination.

I love Korean architecture so much. Henry, please buy me a house and build a wall around it just like this one.

Then we spotted a big orange cat and started tailing it!

Chooch was so frustrated because when he finally had a chance to take a picture, after the cat popped back up, this elderly woman in fron of him was “WALKING TOO SLOW” and made him miss the shot, and now this moment and his irritation with a sweet halmeoni is tarnishing my suggestion that he include something about “working with the elderly and computers” in an essay he needs to write….

I bought this backpack at Target before our trip and I really like it. It was a great personal item for the plane and fits so much stuff!

We followed the cat home! Or, what might be his home? He attempted to go inside one of the houses and another cat was like I DON’T THINK SO and chased him away. :/

Cafe Dalgom for a sweet snack!

OMG this was in a croffle cone and it was so delicious but I 100% could not finish it with that bibimbap sitting in my stomach. Chooch got a sikhye smoothie and Henry got whatever that waffle sandwich is with a butter and red bean filling. Jiyong got tea, which was the smartest option because it was cold, rainy, and we were stuffed!

This cafe was adorable.

Dear Henry, I like this wall too.


We walked in the pouring rain to PBC for chocopies! I’m pissed, looking at this picture, because I told Henry to get what he wanted, assuming we were getting an assortment to take home for us and for gifts, but instead he bought like, 4. Which was obviously devoured when we got back to Seoul and I was so mad that he didn’t buy more.


We didn’t see any of this part of Jeonju the last time we were there, the more commercial area with shops, which reminded me of a more quiet and smaller….Myeongdong maybe? Hongdae?

One of the Korean phenomena we witnessed first here in Jeonju is the Kodak craze. And I don’t mean like, “Oh, here is a shop to buy Kodak film” or whatever, but, “Oh, here is a shop full of Kodak-branded clothes that are actually more expensive than you would imagine.” I know this because back in Seoul, we also saw this brand at the Lotte department store, along with National Geographic!? DID YOU KNOW YOU CAN GET NATGEO SHOES? I didn’t either and now Chooch won’t let me forget it because he wanted a pair and I can still hear the ghosts of his whines in my head.

Jeonju is the home to a big film festival, which I actually did know because I watch Korean Gentleman on YouTube, a British guy who has lived in Korea, is fluent in Korean, married a Korean, and devotes his life spreading the amazing joys of Korean culture on his YouTube channel; several years ago, he and his wife were invited to attend the film festival there!

Also, prior to meeting Jiyong, everything I knew about Jeonju I had learned from his videos. No shame!

Jiyong was so sad that it was raining (I wasn’t sad about that, just angry that when I said, “Yo we should buy umbrellas” Henry the Horrible screamed NO WE DON’T NEED IT and I was like OK I HOPE YOU MELT) but in all honesty, it was still a great day. Sharing an umbrella with her just made it more memorable!

Before we knew it, it was nearly 4:00PM, and time for us to go back to the Jeonju train station, where we witnessed Jiyong squeezing her car (dude she has a super cool electric Hyundai Ionic and Henry’s main takeaway possibly from the whole trip is that he wants one) into the tightest non-space in a temporary parking lot that’s being used while the station is under construction. I would have given up before even trying but she was like, “No. I got this.” AND SHE DID.

She walked us into the station and we were all chatting and then suddenly it became clear that our train was about to arrive and we had to go out to the platform, so we said our goodbyes and it SUCKED! I appreciate our friendship so much and am so grateful that we were able to see her while we were there. It just makes me more determined to go back again soon. I still want to have a Hangang picnic but will not do it unless she is with us!

According to my vacation journal, I didn’t write anything at all on the train ride back and now I remember why: I WAS IN A DEAD SLEEP for most of the trip back. We had been doing so much, running nearly non-stop, that it was good to catch up on some sleep. Especially because then I was ready to go out again once we got back, much to Henry’s chagrin, lol! I don’t think I have that much more to recap, but I’m still splitting this into a part 3 because I am a Blogger and this is my Blog.

JUST KIDDING – I just realized that this was the evening where Chooch was like, “I AM TIRED GOOD NIGHT” and went to bed as soon as we got back to the hotel but I was whining about wanting to go to SMTown Station to see if the new NCT Dream video was playing on the big video screen in that subway station (technically the Seoul Forest subway station). We had watched a video about this recently and I was excited because this wasn’t something that was around during our last trip AND that Monday was NCT Dream’s comeback.

In parentheses on that sign, it says SMTown, lol. SM practically owns Seoul, it’s insane.

When we came up the steps after getting off the subway, there really was a giant screen playing various SM artist videos. The volume was turned way down and I was tired and irritable and being a baby because none of the videos was NCT Dream and I was like, “I AM A BUST ADULT, I CANNOT STAND HERE ALL NIGHT” so then we started to walk around. I wanted to go to Kwangya (IYKYK) but we couldn’t find it because Jesus Christ, that station and the….mall? it was connected to was so hard to figure out. Anyway, it turns out that unlike 90% of the city, Kwangya closes at 8pm and it was already 9:30 by this point.


I thought this was cool so I took a picture of it which is usually the impetus behind taking a picture, you heard it here first.

We went back to the hotel around 10:30 probably and I watched the NCT Dream video while pouting for absolutely no reason aside from the fact that I was exhausted and probably hungry for real food and not a choco pie but Jesus are those choco pies delicious.

Anyway, here’s the (short) video comp from this rainy travel day!


Say it don't spray it.

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