Travel Destinations: Cheongju, South Korea
Located in Chungcheongbuk-do province (South Korea’s only province without a coastline), the city of Cheongju makes a great place to visit. With a population of 579,000 it is the capital of the province and the education centre. You will find that it is also the gateway to the presidential villa (Cheongnamdae) and the wonderful Songnisan National Park.
Cheongju is a great place to stay – not only does it boast some wonderful historic sites, a popular shopping precinct and the vibrant Chungdae Jungmun student district, but it offers as a base to explore the rest of this beautiful region.
There are many things to see and do in Cheongju. Why not take a trip to the Early Printing Museum? It may be small but it can tell you everything you wanted to know about Jikji, a book of Buddhist sayings, the oldest book in the world printed with movable metal parts. Although the book is not at the museum (it was purchased by the National Library of France in 1853), it is still a great place to visit.
What about strolling next door to the Korean Craft Museum? This exhibition centre is three storeys high and contains wonderful displays of creative modern ceramics and other crafts produced by local leading artists.
The Heungdeok Seongdang is not to be missed. It is a fortress-like Catholic church (Jijingno) which still holds Mass in English every Sunday at 5pm.
The Golden Pavilion is the next place to visit on the list. It was created by the Daesun Jillihoe Buddhist sect, who was founded by Gang Jeungsan (1871 – 1909). This magnificent five storey golden pavilion is found on the main street of Cheongju city. Inside, there is a brilliant golden statue of Gang (who is better known as Sangje), with birds and clouds on his gown. Not only this, but when the azaleas outside are in bloom, the rock garden outside makes it a truly beautiful site.
Want to relax and soak in the scenery? Jung-ang Park should be just the place. The little historical park is located across from the department store and contains pavilions, memorials and a 900 year old tree. You will also find one of Heungseon Daewon-gun’s anti-foreigner inscriptions in stone. These stone inscriptions were erected throughout the country during the 1860’s and 70’s.
No trip to Cheongju would be complete without visiting Sangdang Sanseong. Located about 4km northeast of the city, this gigantic fortress was originally built in the 1590’s and then renovated in the 18th century. Burn off some of that delicious Korean food by hiking around the walls that stretch some 4.2km around the forested hillsides. This is an amazing site to visit and a real Oriental treasure to be savoured.
These are not the only places that you can visit when staying at Cheongju, but it will give you a starting point. When visiting Cheongju, you will find some wonderful attractions, beautiful restaurants and the friendliest people on earth. Have fun exploring and discovering new and exciting places!