Jeolla Province

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Jeolla Province
Korean transcription(s)
 • Hangul 전라도
 • Hanja 全羅道
 • Revised Romanization Jeolla-do
 • McCune–Reischauer Chŏlla-do
Short name transcription(s)
 • Hangul 전라
 • Revised Romanization Jeolla
 • McCune–Reischauer Chŏlla
Country Korea
Region Honam
Capital Jeonju
 • Type Province
Dialect Jeolla

Jeolla (Korean: 전라도 Jeolla-do/Chŏlla-to [tɕʌlːado], "Jeolla province", also spelled Cholla) was a province in southwestern Korea, one of the historical Eight Provinces of Korea during the Joseon Dynasty. It consisted of the modern South Korean provinces of North Jeolla, South Jeolla and the Special City of Gwangju as well as Jeju Island. The provincial capital was Jeonju, the current capital of Northern Jeolla. The entire inland region was formerly called Honam "South of the Lake".


Samhan and Samguk[edit]

Baekje in 576.

During the Samhan era of Korean history, the area of Jeolla was controlled by the Mahan confederacy. Fifteen of the 45 Korean tribes had their bases in this region. When Baekje overtook Mahan by the 5th century, the Three Kingdoms era began and the region became part of southern Baekje. Jungbang was the center of the province during this period.

Unified Silla[edit]

When Silla conquered Baekje with the help of the Tang Dynasty in 660, it became a territory of Unified Silla during the 16th year of the reign of King Munmu. Silla reorganized this territory into 9 "ju" () and 5 "gyeong" (), 3 of the ju belonging to the former Baekje. The northern territory of former Baekje, Ung (Ungju; 웅주; 熊州), corresponds to modern-day South Chungcheong.

The middle area consisted of Wansan (Wansan-ju; 완산주; 完山州) and Namwon (Namwon-gyeong; 남원경), which correspond to modern-day North Jeolla. Wansan was later renamed Jeonju. The southern area consisted of Mujin (Mujin-ju), which was renamed Mu (Mu-ju; 무주; 武州) in 757, the 16th year of the reign of King Gyeongdeok. Mu consisted of one gun and 43 hyeon, and corresponds to modern-day South Jeolla.

Goryeo Dynasty[edit]

In 983, during the second year of the reign of King Seongjong of the Goryeo Dynasty, the country was reorganized into 12 "mok". Jeonju became Jeonju-mok (전주목; 全州牧), while Muju was split into Naju (Naju-mok) and Seungju (Seungju-mok). In 995, King Seongjong again reorganized the country, this time into 10 "do" (도; 道; province) . Jeonju-mok was renamed Gangnam-do (province south of the river) while Naju and Seugnju were reunited and renamed Haeyang-do (ocean province).

In 1018, during the 9th year of the reign of King Hyeonjong, the country was again reorganized in 5 "do", and provinces of Gangnam and Haeyang were merged to form the province of Jeollaju. (Jeollaju-do; 전라주도; 全羅州道). The name derived from the names of the principal cities of Jeonju (전주; 全州) and Naju (나주; 羅州). The "n" (ㄴ) in "Naju" was originally an "r" (ㄹ), so the "n" in "Jeonju" and the "r" in "Naju" are assimilated into "l"s (ㄹ) due to a phonetic rule in the Korean of South Korea known as the "initial law" (두음법칙).

This was the first time the area currently known as Jeolla was united under one administrative division, and it would remain this way for nearly eight centuries.

Joseon Dynasty[edit]

In 1413, during 13th year of the right of Taejong, the territories were, once again, reorganized into 8 "do". This is the era of the historic eight provinces of Korea. Jeollaju-do was variously known as Gwangnam, Jeongwang, and Jeonnam, but the original name persisted, and was eventually shortened to simply Jeolla (전라도; 全羅道; Jeolla-do).

The Donghak Peasant Rebellion of 1894-95 began in Jeolla province, which was a peasant revolt fueled by the fervor of a coming local "messiah" and protests over Seoul's high taxes on rice and increasing number of Japanese traders in Joseon. They had anti-Japanese sentiments due to former seven year war between Toyotomi's Japan and Joseon Dynasty.

On May 26, 1895, Emperor Gojong replaced the 8 do "province" system with a 23 bu "district" system and Jeolla was replaced by the districts of Jeonju (Jeonju-bu; 전주부; 全州府) in the northwest, Naju (Naju-bu; 나주부; 羅州府) in the southwest, Namwon (Namwon-bu; 남원부; 南原府) in the east, and Jeju (Jeju-bu; 제주부; 濟州府) on Jeju Island.

On August 4, 1896, Emperor Gojong issued Royal Order 36, repealing the district system and restoring the province system. Jeolla, along with Chungcheong, Gyeongsang, Hamgyeong and Pyeongan, was divided north-south into Jeollabuk-do (전라북도, North Jeolla province, nicknamed 전북, Jeonbuk) and Jeollanam-do (전라남도, South Jeolla province, nicknamed 전남, Jeonnam), bringing the total to 13 provinces. Jeonbuk consisted of the Jeonju and northern Namwon districts, while Jeonnam consisted of the southern Namwon districts, Naju district, and Jeju island. Jeonju was retained as the capital of Jeonbuk, with Gwangju being made the capital of Jeonnam. The capital of Jeonnam was later changed to Namak in 2005, with Gwangju being designating a Special City.


Jeolla Province was bounded on the north by Chungcheong Province, on the east by Gyeongsang Province, on the south by the East China Sea, and on the west by the Yellow Sea. The region is bordered on the east by the Sobaek Mountains and is drained by the Yeongsan, Seomjin and Mangyeong River. The largest city in the region is Gwangju. Apart from Jeonju and Naju, other cities of note include Iksan (formerly Iri), Gunsan, Mokpo, Namwon, Suncheon, and Yeosu.


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