A small city typical of Korea’s southern coast, but rather more akin to laid-back Jeolla than busy Gyeongsang in feel, JINJU (진주) is worth dropping into on account of its superb fortress alone – this was the scene of one of the most famous suicides in Korean history, an event commemorated by an annual weekend festival at the end of May.
Here you can walk for hours along pretty paths, gaze over the river from traditional pavilions and pop into the odd temple. The beauty of Jinju is that all you need is within easy walking distance – the fortress is close to the intercity bus terminal, and surrounded by places to stay and eat. Unlike most towns in the region, the city is famed for its food, and a clutch of excellent eel restaurants can be found outside the fortress entrance. Jinju even has its own take on bibimbap – a popular dish across the nation, but prepared here with consummate attention – and a few restaurants still serving ostrich meat. The city also makes a good base for nearby national park of Jirisan, one of the most popular in the country.