Introduction to Jeollabuk-do

Jeollabuk-do, which is also known as North Jeolla Province in English, is located in the south-western part of Korea. Jeollabuk-do is the sixth largest province based on population, and it’s the seventh largest province based on area. Jeollabuk-do borders Jeollanam-do to the south, Gyeongsangnam-do and Gyeongsangbuk-do to the east, Chungcheongbuk-do to the northeast, Chungcheongnam-do to the north, and the Yellow Sea to the east.

Before the Three Kingdoms of Korea (18 B.C. – 660 A.D.), the Jeolla region was part of the Mahan confederacy (1st century B.C. – 5th century A.D.) among the Samhan. Then during the Three Kingdoms, which consisted of the Silla (57 B.C. – 935 A.D.), the Baekje (18 B.C. – 660 A.D.), and the Goguryeo (37 B.C. – 668 A.D.), the region was absorbed by the Baekje Kingdom. Then when the Baekje Kingdom fell to Silla and Tang Dynasty (618–690, 705–907 A.D.) forces in 660 A.D., the area was ruled by the Tang. And in 676 A.D., when the Silla expelled the Tang, the Silla would then rule this region.

In 996 A.D., this region was named Gangnam province. Then in 1018, both Gangnam (Jeollabuk-do) and the neighbouring Haenam-do (Jeollanam-do) were combined and given the name of Jeolla-do. In 1896, the Korean Peninsula was divided into 13 provinces. It was at this time that Jeolla-do was split into Jeollanam-do to the south and Jeollabuk-do to the north. In total, Jeollabuk-do would consist of some 26 counties. Then, during Japanese Colonization (1910-1945), Jeollabuk-do was called Zenra-hoku.  

In total, Jeollabuk-do currently consists of 6 cities and 8 counties. The capital of Jeollbuk-do is Jeonju, which is also its largest with a population of around 650,000 people. The smallest city in the province based on population is Namwon with a population of around 84,000. Other major cities in the province include Iksan, Gunsan, and Jeongeup. As for the counties, the largest is Wanju at around 95,500. And the smallest county is Jangsu with a population of around 26,000.

According to a 2005 census, the largest religious demographic in Jeollabuk-do is irreligious at 49.5%. This is followed by Christianity at 37.7% (Protestants 26.3% and Catholics 11.4%). And the third largest demographic is Buddhism at 12.8%.

Jeollabuk-do is rich in Korean Buddhist temples. The province is home to one of Korea’s top ten temples in Geumsansa Temple in Gimje. It also boasts of Tapsa Temple in Maisan Provincial Park and the historic Seonunsa Temple. In addition to these temples, Jeollabuk-do is home to perhaps the most famous temple site in all of Korea at the Mireuksa-ji Temple Site in Iksan. There certainly isn’t a shortage of temples to see in Jeollabuk-do. Below is a list of some of temples.  

Jeollabuk-do Temples

1. Geumsansa Temple – 금산사 (Gimje, Jeollabuk-do): 10/10

2. Tapsa Temple – 탑사 (Jinan, Jeollabuk-do): 9/10

3. Seonunsa Temple – 선운사 (Gochang, Jeollabuk-do): 8.5/10

4. Songgwangsa Temple – 송광사 (Wanju, Jeollabuk-do): 8/10

5. Silsangsa Temple – 실상사 (Namwon, Jeollabuk-do): 8/10

6. Mireuksa-ji Temple Site – 미륵사지 (Iksan, Jeollabuk-do): 8/10

7. Dongguksa Temple – 동국사 (Gunsan, Jeollabuk-do): 7.5/10

8. Seonwonsa Temple – 선원사 (Namwon, Jeollabuk-do): 7.5/10

9. Ansimsa Temple – 안심사 (Wanju, Jeollabuk-do): 7.5/10

10. Naesosa Temple – 내소사 (Buan, Jeollabuk-do): 7/10

11. Naejangsa Temple – 내장사 (Jeongeup, Jeollabuk-do): 7/10

12. Wibongsa Temple – 위봉사 (Wanju, Jeollabuk-do): 7/10

13. Jeongsusa Temple – 정수사 (Wanju, Jeollabuk-do): 7/10

14. Geumdangsa Temple – 금당사 (Jinan, Jeollabuk-do): 6.5/10

15. Baekjangam Hermitage – 백장암 (Namwon, Jeollabuk-do): 6.5/10

16. Eunsusa Temple – 은수사 (Jinan, Jeollabuk-do): 6/10

17. Manboksa-ji Temple Site – 만복사지 (Namwon, Jeollabuk-do): 6/10

18. Five-Story Stone Pagoda in Wanggung-ri – 익산 왕궁리 오층석탑 (Iksan, Jeollabuk-do): 5.5/10