2014 Trip to Jeonju, South Korea and the Love Motel

After two weeks in Seoul, off we went to explore Korea. We took a taxi from the M Chereville to the Express Bus Terminal (KRW 6,200). It was easy to find and buy the express bus tickets for Jeonju (KRW 18,700 x 2= KRW 37,400) for the 202.6 km trip. We had assigned seats in a very empty bus. We got out of the city in 15 minutes and were on an impressive highway with a dedicated bus lane. During the first 10 minutes on the highway, it looked like we were passing many corporate headquarters, then huge apartment blocks. Then we got to farmland. It was a speedy ride—2 ½ hours with one 15 minute break at a full service rest stop. The bus was comfortable; we each had a row to ourselves. Our luggage was in a compartment under the bus and the driver heaved it into the compartment. It was an easy ride. When we got to the long distance bus terminal in Jeonju, it was pretty shabby. We just used the smelly toilet and got into a taxi for our hotel called Lanuit (again the fascination with French).

Goodstay Lanuit Hotel (2-ga, Deokjjin-dong, Deokjjin, Jeonju, Jeonju-si South Korea, tel. 826 32535707) was on a small street lined with motels/hotels near Deokjin Park, well north of the hanok village and the bus terminal. When we got to the door a man helped with our luggage and we entered into a dark lobby area with no reception desk, only a window with a tiny opening at the bottom of it. 

He showed us to our pre-booked and prepaid VIP room (booked through agoda.com). Walking in room 609, there was a table that had two desktop computers on it with two stools in front. The table was in front of a partition that divided the space between the computers and the beds. When you walked by that computer table, on your left was a toilet (with a full spraying system) in a space that was too small for it.  There was no way to sit on the toilet and close the door. The next space was a bathroom with a Jacuzzi tub and shower (no shower curtain) and a sink (with toothbrushes and toothpaste in a cup). The next space was a cupboard and an el-shaped piece of furniture. There was a mirror, a hair dryer and every kind of hair preparation imaginable, along with a used hair brush and comb. Also on that piece of furniture was a water boiler and under it a microwave and a mini fridg. Next to the el-shaped piece of furniture was a bench with a coffee table in front of it. Next to the bench was a glass door to a tiny balcony. Walking around the partition and past the balcony were two beds. Across from the two beds was a flat-screened TV on the wall. That was it.

After Dimitri tried to use the toilet, with his feet outside the toilet space, we went downstairs to ask about other rooms. No one else was in the hotel and so we saw all of the room types. They were all minuscule; some had beds, some only had ondol on the floor. But all of them had desktop computers and flat screen TVs. We chose room 606 because there was a real bathroom with a toilet in it that was big enough for the sink, toilet and a tub with a shower (no curtain). It was a smaller room than 609 and less expensive (KRW 77,000 per night instead of KRW 97,000). The man at the window in the “lobby” said we would get a refund. The exchange rate was US$1 = Korean won .00098 on September 4 so we are talking about a US$20 difference in price.

The next problem was the bed linen. All the bed had on it was a bottom sheet and a comforter. The man from downstairs (who spoke some English) found another flat sheet and we put it on the bed with the comforter on top. Unfortunately, no amount of proper linen could make the bed comfortable--it was hard as sleeping on a board. Our first night, at around midnight, we heard lots of noise around us. By morning everyone had left.

Lanuit Hotel was a “love motel” typically rented for a short time. We figure couples make love on the hard mattress and play video games. Maybe they also “do their hair” with all of the hair products. We first thought we might find a real hotel to move to on that quiet street. No way; the street was lined with similar love motels. 

We found a real hotel near the hanok village that we came to Jeonju to see. Hansung Hotel was part of a big Korean hotel chain called Benikea. We reserved a suite for KRW 120,000/US$120 weekday price and KRW 140,000/US $140 for Friday and Saturday. We went back to the LaNuit and told the man. He said “get the refund from agoda.” He called agoda and told them we were checking out. Agoda sent Dimitri an e-mail confirming that we would get a refund for the days we didn't stay there (not for the lesser price of the room). Phew!