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Chungju is Chungcheongbuk-do's second-largest city, but with a small-town feeling. Since it became an official city in the late 1950s, it has enjoyed continued industrial growth. It serves as the gateway to the Chungju Lake area, Woraksan National Park, and Suanbo Hot Springs.

Every autumn the city comes alive with the World Martial Arts Festival (www.martialarts.or.kr), usually in late September or early October. It usually overlaps the Ureuk Cultural Festival, which commemorates the achievements of the great Shilla musician Akseong Ureuk, who invented the gayageum (a Korean zither-type string instrument).

From the Dong Seoul Express Terminal, you can board a bus to Chungju every 30 minutes daily. The 90-minute trip costs about W8,700. The tourist information booth (tel. 043/845-7829) is located inside the bus terminal and is open daily from 9am to 6pm.