Jeollanam-do (South Jeolla) is a province in the southwest of South Korea. The province was formed in 1896 from the southern half of the former Jeolla province, remained a province of Korea until the country's division in 1945, then became part of South Korea. Gwangju was the capital of the province, until the provincial office moved to the southern village of Namak, Muan in 2005. The population is just under 2,000,000, though the figure swells to over 3.5 million if Gwangju is included.
Jeollanam-do, comprised of 5 cities---Mokpo, Suncheon, Yeosu, Gwangyang, and Naju---and 17 counties, completely encircles Gwangju and has 6,100 kilometers of coastline. Owing to this, and to the 2,000-plus islands, the province is known for its beaches and its seafood. Jeollanam-do is also fairly mountainous, with the biggest peak being Jirisan, at 1,917 meters, in Gurye county. Fourteen mountains in the province made a recent list of the top 100 most popular mountains in South Korea. Other famous tourist destinations include the Boseong Green Tea Fields, the bamboo forest in Damyang, Hyangiram hermitage in Yeosu, and the Moses Miracle in Jindo.
- For more pictures of countryside scenery of Jeollanam-do, view the article Gokseong.
The area comprising Jeolla province, shaded on a current map of South Korea.
During the Goryeo dynasty, the Provinces of Gangnam and Haeyang were merged to form Jeollaju Province (Jeollaju-do; 전라주도; 全羅州道). In the early 15th century (the early Joseon Dynasty), the province's name was shortened to Jeolla. The name derived from the names of the principal cities of Jeonju (전주; 全州) and Naju (나주; 羅州). (The "n" in "Naju" is originally an "r", so the "n" (ㄴ) in "Jeonju" and the "r" in "Naju" are assimilated to "l"s (ㄹ) according to a phonetic rule in Korean.)
In 1895, the province was replaced by the Districts of Jeonju (Jeonju-bu; 전주부; 全州府) in the northwest, Naju (Naju-bu; 나주부; 羅州府) in the southwest, Namwon (Namwon-bu; 남원부; 南原府) in the east, and Jeju (Jeju-bu; 제주부; 濟州府) on Jeju Island.
In 1896, Jeonju and northern Namwon Districts were merged to form North Jeolla Province, and Naju, Jeju, and southern Namwon Districts were merged to form South Jeolla Province. Jeju would stay a part of Jeollanam-do until 1946.
The Donghak Rebellion of 1894-95 began in Jeolla province, which was a peasant revolt fueled by the fervor of a coming local "messiah" (the Donghak Movement centering around the religious figure of Gang Il-Sun) and protests over Seoul's high taxes on rice. It was this event which caused Korea to ask China for military assistance, after which the Japanese invaded Korea, presumably out of fear of Chinese ownership of the peninsula. This began the Japanese occupation of Korea, the first in a series of territorial aggrandizements conducted by Japan throughout East and Southeast Asia during the first half of the 20th century.
In May 1980, civil demonstrations took place in Gwangju and neighboring counties against the newly installed military government of Chun Doo-hwan. The demonstrations were suppressed by military forces, including elite units of the Special Operations Command. Most commentators agree that the suppression was characterized by its egregious brutality, including several incidents where military forces fired automatic weapons into crowds of unarmed demonstrators. Some commentators assert the United States is partly responsible for the mass killing in the city, because of its tacit endorsement of the Chun Doo-hwan regime and the mobilization of some units which normally required approval from the U.S. military command. Gwangju is sometimes called "the shrine of Korean democracy" because of this incident, which is known today as the Gwangju Massacre. After civilian rule was reinstated, a national cemetery was established honoring the victims of the incident.
Geography and Resources
The province is part of the Honam region, and is bounded on the west by the Yellow Sea, on the north by Jeollabuk-do Province, on the south by Jeju Strait, and on the east by Gyeongsangnam-do.
There are almost 2,000 islands along the coastline, about three quarters of which are uninhabited. The coastline is about 6,100 kilometres long. Some of the marine products, in particular oyster and seeweed cultivation, are leading in South Korea.
The province is only partially mountainous. The plains along the rivers Seomjin, Yeongsan and Tamjin create a large granary. There is abundant rainfall in the area, which helps agriculture. The province is also home to the warmest weather on the peninsula. This helps to produce large amounts of agricultural produce, mainly rice, wheat, barley, pulses and potatoes. Vegetables, cotton and fruits are also grown in the province.
A small amount of gold and coal is mined in the province, but industries have also been developed in the area.
Jeollanam-do is divided into 5 cities ("Si" or "Shi") and 17 counties ("Gun"). The Provincial Office is located in Namak, Muan county. Listed below is the name of each entity in English and Hangul.
Jeolla dialect is used in the Jeolla (Honam) region of South Korea, including the city of Gwangju.
It is considered in popular culture, along with Chungcheong dialect to a lesser degree, to be real country bumpkin speech, somewhat like an Ozarks dialect in the US. Perhaps the most obvious, to a foreigner, difference is in the common verb endings. In place of the usual -sumnida or -saeyo endings, a southern Jeolla person will use -raoo or -jee-raoo appended to the verb. For a causative verb ending, expressed in standard language with a -neeka ending, Jeolla people use -ngkay, so the past tense of the verb 'did', hessuneeka, becomes hessungkay. A similar sound is used for the quotative ending, "somebody said...". The usual verb endings are -dahgo and -rahgo. Jeolla dialect prefers -dahngkay.
Regarding pronunciation differences, there is a strong tendency to go to the second vowel in a diphthong. For example, the verb ending that indicates 'since', -nunday, becomes -nundee. The name of the large city Gwangju becomes Gangju, and the verb 'to not have, to be absent', ohpta, becomes very close to oopta. There are some words that are dialect as well: "aut-chay-so" for "why", "shee-bang" for "now", and the ever-popular "twee-gahn" for "outhouse". Rather like rural Canadians, Jeolla dialect speakers have a tendency to end their sentences with "eeng", especially questions.
Jeollanam-do is well-known for housing many historical sites, national and local treasures, and religious shrines. There are four national parks, three provincial parks, numerous islands, and 6,100 kilometers of coastline. Its geography allows for plenty of visits to local mountains and beaches.
Jirisan, Baegunsan, and Wolchulsan are the largest mountains in the region. Each county has medium-sized mountains with trails, springs, and exercise centers. Please browse this list of mountains in Jeollanam-do for more detailed, local information.
Since much of Jeollanam-do faces the coast, and since there are 2,000-plus islands, there are many beaches both small and large in the province. Muan, Yeosu, Shinan, Goheung, Jindo, Wando, and Mokpo are the most notable areas, and Boseong, Haenam, Jangheung, Gangjin, Hampyeong, Yeongam, and Suncheon also have coastline.
Though there are too many regionally-famous beaches in Jeollanam-do to describe here, there are a few worth mentioning in brief. Manseongni Beach in Yeosu is considered the only blacksand beach in South Korea. Two beaches in Shinan---Hanuneom and Wonpyeong---were used as filming locations for the popular drama Spring Waltz. And Gamami Beach's proximity to Gwangju makes it a regional favorite.
Each county has its share of temples. Please browse this list of Buddhist temples in Jeollanam-do for more information. The most notable temples are Unjusa (Hwasun county), Hwaeomsa (Gurye county), Mihwangsa (Haenam county), Daewonsa (Boseong county), and Songgwangsa (Suncheon city).
Each county has its own self-proclaimed food specialties, be they prepared food or crops. Naju, for example, prides itself on its pears, while Yeonggwang county holds its gulbi, dried croaker, in high regard.
Residents can whet their appetite for Western food in larger cities in the province, as Suncheon, Mokpo, and Yeosu have Western food franchises.
There are a few department stores in the main cities of Jeollanam-do that will cater to the needs of most foreigners. For a more local feel, people can visit traditional markets held in almost every town throughout the county.
While hofs and noraebang are found in every city, town, and village in Jeollanam-do, what can be considered "nightlife" is found in the cities of Suncheon, Yeosu, and Mokpo. Suncheon has two popular foreigner-friendly bars, Elvis and Julianna's, and also a Wa Bar. Yeosu has two Wa Bars, one of which is near another popular nightspot, the Yellow Monkey bar. Mokpo's Wa Bar, in Sang-dong, is the oldest in the province.
Gwangju is a popular gathering point for Koreans and foreigners alike. There are many Western restaurants in the city, as well as a few popular foreigner bars, including Soul Train and Mike and Dave's Speakeasy, both located in Chungjangno.
The closest international airport to Jeollanam-do is Gwangju International Airport in Gwangju, the former capital of the province until 2005. There are domestic airports in Yeosu and Mokpo. An international airport is set to open in Muan by the end of the decade.
The KTX high-speed rail offers service to Jangseong, Songjeongni, Naju, Mokpo, and Gwangju. Korail, the Korean National Railroad has a number of lines that reach Mokpo, Yeosu, and Suncheon. Please browse their website for more information.
Buses connect Jeollanam-do to all point in South Korea, and major cities are accessible via local bus terminals. Additionally, passengers can travel throughout their respective counties via their town's bus terminal, which also offers service throughout the province. Buses bound for tourist destinations can usually be purchased at the local bus terminal. To return to the bus terminal from remote locations, however, you will need to visit a store near the bus stop (usually a general store), and buy your return ticket there.
The Airport Limousine bus travels between Gwangju and Incheon International Airport. The bus departs from Gwangju Bus Terminal, and the cost is 30,900 won.