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Perched on the edge of the fertile Honam plains, Jeonju is the capital city of Jeollabuk-do (North Jeolla Province). Famous for its regional cuisine and historic buildings, the city has long been regarded a spiritual center of the Joseon Dynasty, since Confucians placed enormous emphasis on ancestry. And Jeonju was home to the Yi family, which produced a long line of Joseon kings. The city was also the ancient capital for the Baekje Kingdom, making this a spot rich with history.

Jeonju's government is well aware of the city's historic significance and is taking great pains to maintain its ancient spirit and character. Well known for its hanji (traditional paper), there are even a paper museum, and an annually held Jeonju Paper Culture Festival (tel. 063/281-2541), which includes a fashion show of Korean couture all made from paper. Around the same time in May, the city holds the Jeonju Pungnam Festival (tel. 063/281-2114) with traditional folk performances, Korean verse competitions, and a folk marketplace.

This capital city has a bit of something for everyone: historical sites and parks in the city, gorgeous mountain scenery, and the remains of ancient Buddhist temples in the surrounding hills. And after you've exhausted yourself exploring, you can refuel with some of the best food in South Korea.

More contemporary developments include the Jeonju International Film Festival (tel. 063/288-5433; http://eng.jiff.or.kr), a small but growing festival showcasing films from South Korea and abroad.