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Gongju was capital of an early Korean kingdom 1500 years ago and it's been down hill since then. An attractive setting on the Gumgang River, a beautiful restored fortress and a small shopping area make Gongju a nice place to visit but I wouldn't want to live there. Well, I did and it showed me that people there are proud of their conservative upbringing and have a deep connection to the land. Hometown of both Texas Rangers pitcher Park Chan-Ho and LPGA sensation Park Se Ri, Gongju is a town of about 150,000 people boasting a national university and a teachers' college, but often seems much smaller. Life is slow here, off the train line and you best sit back with a two-litre of soju outside the Buy The Way and get ready to practice some English and meet a sordid collection of expats that ended up in a town that most Koreans have never heard of.

TransportationEdit

Getting thereEdit

By AirEdit

The nearest international airport is Incheon. Buses run from there to central Seoul's Express Bus Terminal where you can transfer to Kumho Express's bus to Gongju running many times daily. Alternately, you could bus to Daejeon and then bus or cab to Gongju depending on the time of day. Daejeon-Gongju is about 35 kms, buses are W3,000, bullet cabs going 140 kmh late at night are W30-40,000 one way but a whole hell of a lot of fun with a bunch of drunk club-goers.

By RailEdit

Saemaeul trains from Seoul Stn. or Yongsan Stn. take you to Jochiwon, about 25 kms east of Gongju in under an hour. Buses and cabs can take you from there to Gongju, Jochiwon has little to recommend it over Gongju other than the train which will take you away. It is not, however, on the KTX nor is it likely to be.

By busEdit

As I said, Seoul Express Bus terminal, Nambu Bus terminal and Seoul East Bus terminal all have many buses per day going to Gongju. Express Bus Terminal has the earliest and latest running times. Costs have dropped due to competition for the coveted Gongju dollar but are in the W5-9,000 range for this 124.5 km, 90-120 minute voyage into the Baekje heartland of Korea. Trying to keep a straight face....The bus may or may not stop at a rest area around Cheonan for 15 minutes for you to pee, buy strange food, smoke and spit. I never figured out which buses stopped and which didn't so be careful with liquid consumption on the voyage.

Buses also are quite abundant from Daejeon and to varying degrees from other places.

By carEdit

Go to Kangnam, get on the #1 Seoul-Busan, go south, go through Cheonan, around South Cheonan get onto a provinical highway heading for Gongju. Drive until chickens start running across the road. You're in Gongju.

Municipal transitEdit

RailEdit

Gongju's civic fathers, I am told, actually voted to keep themselves off the Korean rail line in the 1960's. They feared encroachment on their dog farms and future LPGA proteges from the liberal, ha, elites in Seoul and, despite, having been the capital of Chungchongnam-do for hundreds of years until Daejeon usurped Gongju in the province they gave the train station to the much smaller town of Jochiwon. Ooops. Now they want the investment dollars, but the railroad's been built. Take the bus.

BusEdit

Buses probably go up and down Gongju's one main street, over to the university area in the new area of Sinkwang-dong (not really Gongju's civic core such as it is) and probably out to the baseball stadium and the Baekje tombs. I wouldn't know, I never took them. Slow buses go from Gongju to points throughout Chungnam-do, most notably Magoksa Temple, Daecheon Beach and Gyeryongsan National Park.

ShoppingEdit

Buy it in Seoul.

Department StoresEdit

Ha. Go to DC King Mart for over-priced Chinese cookware and Hi-Mart for Samsung electronics. There's a pretty good furniture shop by the Express Bus Station. All of these places are in Sinkwang-dong, not downtown.

Public MarketsEdit

One of the better public markets in Korea for a town this size - it's located a couple blocks west of the main north-south street, and a couple blocks south of the local bus terminal. Get all the things here you can't identify.

Grocery StoresEdit

GS Supermarket in Okryong-dong is the biggest and best in town. In Sinkwan-dong there is Cuzco.

Convenience StoresEdit

Um, Buy the Way by the batting cages at KNU back gate is the best place for drinking beer and watching drunk students (and ESL teachers) fight, drink and practice English. Close second goes to the Family Mart by the movie theater in Sinkwang-dong.

Electronics StoresEdit

Er... Hi-Mart.

Convenience StoresEdit

You said that already.

Home and Garden StoresEdit

Hmmm, DC King Mart had shampoo, towels and soap.

Book StoresEdit

In English? Ha. Try the university area for comic books, seemingly challenging reading for KNU students.

General StoresEdit

Ahh, the calico and sasparilla ain't come down from Tulsa yet, Pa.

Dining and EntertainmentEdit

As I said, I grew so tired of restaurants in Gongju I ended up drinking outside most of the time. You may, too.

Kongju's Korean RestaurantsEdit

Snack-style barsEdit

Sinkwan-dong has A4, Dosirak and my favourite, Myeong-dong restaurants for mandu, donkass, et al. Try the Yukaejang at Myeong-dong. My fave.

Pub-style barsEdit

The truly tacky Hi OB will serve you awful draft in a brightly lit college bar atmosphere that seems to have about 20 birthday parties a night complete with blaring music and creepy businessmen that will insist you sing old Beatles' songs and rub your leg. If this is what you want, wait no longer. I like the place to the left of HI OB with a pencil and paper on the window. They serve soju like it's going out of style.

Fast Food and NoodlesEdit

McDonald's and KFC.....closed. Yes, that's the kind of town Gongju is. Hope you like Lotteria. Go to Myeongdong or A4, or the weird Chinese place in the shijang behind the gudu shop.

ServicesEdit

Well, Gongju and service aren't exactly synonymous. But that's not to say the people are unfriendly. Just isolated and a tad drunk, sometimes. Like me.

Auto ServiceEdit

Scratch that, car mechanics in Gongju are rude jerks. Go, of course, to see Kyung-Jung at Gongju Daelim by GS Mart for all your motorcycle needs. Great, great guy.

Hair StylingEdit

Er..., nothing to write home about.

Tailoring and Dry CleaningEdit

Well, if you need anything over a 42 jacket you are out of luck in Gongju. Try Daejeon.

Veterinary ServicesEdit

The dog farm by the new police station has an enormous outdoor meat-grinder.

Travel AgenciesEdit

In Gongju? Why would you leave? I always booked online or over the phone with people in Seoul and picked up tickets on weekends. It would be that or Daejeon.

UtilitiesEdit

Having successfully recovered from the Korean War, Gongju is a happy, well-lit town with large and small apartment buildings and reasonably steady electrical service.

Electrical ServiceEdit

Seemed to be there when I needed it.

CommunicationsEdit

Communication breakdown, it's always the same.

Internet CoverageEdit

Poor on campus at KNU, although free and fast when it worked. The rest of town, I dunno. Call Hanaro Telecom or KT.

Mobile Phone CoverageEdit

Seemed reasonably comprehensive within city limits. Dodgier in the parks and areas outside of town.

Natural Gas ServiceEdit

Fuel Oil ServiceEdit

Liquid Propane ServiceEdit

Ask Hank Hill.

SanitationEdit

Optional, especially the bathroom at Club O and X. Yikes!

Waste Separation RulesEdit

Yup, recycling in the blue bag. Garbage in the white.

Waste Pickup ScheduleEdit

Probably a couple times a week. In summer, I sure hope so.

Local AttractionsEdit

Gongsansong, the fortress on the Gumgang was my stomping grounds for one crazy winter. Wonderful views over the river and mysterious temples. The tombs of the Baekje King Muryong are spectacular and are the highest point in town. Similar to the tumuli in Gyeongju that Koreans flock to, but without the crowds.

Specialty Products and FestivalsEdit

Gongju is famous for chestnuts. Be sure to try the chestnut makeolli!

The biggest festival in Gongju is the Great Baekje World Festival which is a month long from mid-September to mid-October.

MuseumsEdit

The museum at the Baekje tombs is okay, but its collection is limited. The National Museum downtown is larger and cotnains many of the original finds from the tombs. The archaeological museum is airy and fairly large. It is mostly arranged chronologically, beginning with a series of dioramas depicting pre-sapiens. All the early stuff is NOT from Korea, so if you know your paleo-anthropology move right on to the Upper Paleolithic section.

GalleriesEdit

Paintings and sculptures from local and international artists are displayed at a gallery a ways out of town. It is worth the trip just to see Feng's two paintings.

TemplesEdit

The best thing about Gongju. Gyeryongsan National Park contains three fantastic temples, the sleepy hermitage of Sinwon-sa, the wonderful Kapsa at the base of the main hiking trail and the enormous Donghaksa, actually a nunneray and a collection of some of the most impressive temple buildings in Korea.

RecreationEdit

Err, chasing chickens, dodging road-blocks and drinking by the river did it for me.

FitnessEdit

Well, KNU has a beautiful new gym and pool right by the river. Great facility.

Outdoor ActivitiesEdit

Hiking, drinking, smoking, swearing and spitting.

ParksEdit

Gongsansong, Gyeryongsan and the Baekje tombs are high on my list. Have fun in Wrongju!

Related ArticlesEdit

The following articles are relevant to this position:


External linksEdit

Here you can find some more information on this town.

Kongju National University. A great place to get a mid-level ESL job in Korea! Started many people on the road to, well, somewhere better

Fun and muddy Canadian girls on Boryeong beach! Yippee!

pics of Gyeryongsan National Park and its temples

Gongju Tourism's pages on temples in Gongju-shi

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