The Dentist & Jeonju Hanok Village: Week 32

The wheels on the bus go round & round, round & round, round & round.

The wheels on the bus go round & round, all the way to the dentist.

Oh yes, it was going to be one of those fun field trips.

Our group of twelve made its way down the dim hallway and into a small dental office. The children sat on the floor while the dentist played an animated film full of anthropomorphic teeth engaged in a confectionary war. Afterwards the dentist gripped an enormous dental model to demonstrate the most awkward and counter-intuitive way possible to brush teeth. She held the brush at the gum line and flicked downwards five times before moving on to another section. The children followed along with their own jerky and frustrated movements.

Once the group demonstration concluded, each child took their turn having their teeth examined. Like a deer caught in a head light, the children lay stunned beneath the dentist’s probing metal tools. Afterwards they clamped down on a pink cleansing paste while tortuously studying a lethargic egg timer. In the reception, children’s books about poop and abuse awaited those who finished first.

The Hanok village in Jeonju is the largest concentration of traditional housing in South Korea. A 500 year old ginkgo tree marked the start of our stroll with volumes of vibrant yellow leaves against its’ dark bark. The whole of Ginkgo Tree Avenue was alive with merchants and visitors and the gurgle of a small stream running parallel to the sidewalk.

The Jeonju Bibimbap Festival was occurring during our visit, so walking with a red-headed friend meant lots of cameos in other’s recordings. Perhaps our accidental twin attire will illustrate some multi-cultural catchphrase in next year’s brochure. We learned about traditional medicinal and that hanji (traditional paper made from mulberry bark) could also me made into an anti-microbial yarn which naturally deodorizes and emits far-infrared rays.

However, the best discovery was tucked inside the Jeonju City Authority of Master Crafts. There my friend and I dipped thin bamboo sieves into a milky bath of mulberry pulp. Between two layers of paper we sandwiched a fall leaf. Then the wet hanji paper was run over a historically inaccurate vacuum-powered table before the sheet finished baking on a heated table.

We finished our journey over a Hanjeongshik lunch (a full course meal). The beef stew was savory, the eggplant spicy, the gimchi just right, and the shikhye (sweet rice punch) was refreshing. Before heading back to the bus we stopped at a traditional tea house to fill our bladders with omija tea and wild grape juice. While I felt a slow guilt creep up on me for not having eaten bibimbap during the Bibimbap Festival in the land of bibimbap, I knew I’d be back. I need to take Barret if I want to reenact a traditional Korean wedding.

How to get to the Hanok Village:

From Jeonju Intercity Bus Terminal or Jeonju Station  take bus 142, 211, 221, 231, 241, 251, or 291 bound for Nambu Market.

Get off at Jeondong Cathedral or Jeonbuk Art Center and walk 10 min.


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