The Trace of History in Seoul : Hanok Village

The Unique Roof Form of Hanok (took in Bukchon Hanok Village)
Seoul isn't about food, fashion and fervency only, but also a city which appreciate its history. Someone who loves Korean Drama especially set in Joseon Dynasty will not strange with the architecture of Korean House, the beautiful Hanok or Korean Traditional House.

There are several spots to see and experience Korean Traditional House in Seoul, but due to our limited time, we chose two most popular spot; Namsangol and Bukchon Hanok Village.

Namsangol Hanok Village

While Jeju Folk Village is replicas of Jeju's scene and village in 1890's, Namsangol Hanok Village is time capsule of Korean houses in Joseon Dynasty ( 1392-1897).

There are five traditional houses built in Namsangol Hanok Village which seen differ from what we saw in Jeju Folk Village. Not only the time frame, the five traditional houses looks like more pavilion and grand than in Jeju.

Beautiful Traditional Houses in Namsangol Hanok Village

The fact is Hanok Houses differ according to region. In the cold northern regions of Korea, houses are built in a closed square form to retain heat better. In the central regions, houses are 'L' shaped. Houses in the southernmost regions of Korea are built in an open 'I' form. Houses can also be classified according to class and social status. May be that's also explain why most houses built in open 'I' form at Jeju Folk Village.

The raw materials used in Hanok, such as soil, timber, and rock, are all natural and recyclable and do not cause pollution. Hanok's have their own tiled roofs (Giwa), wooden beams and stone-block construction. Cheoma is the edge of Hanok's curvy roofs. The lengths of the Cheoma can be adjusted to control the amount of sunlight that enters the house. Hanji (Korean traditional paper) is lubricated with bean oil making it waterproof and polished. Windows and doors made with Hanji are beautiful and breathable.

Black Stone, one of the particularity of Hanok
Namsangol Hanok Village is very special because it is built among the normal scenery of Seoul-which full of Skycrappers, modern building, and bustling streets. This village has five restored traditional Korean houses, a pavilion, a pond and a time capsule as well, making it a perfect spot to take a leisure walk

Woods and Bricks are the main material
Meanwhile, based on the Wikipedia, the value of hanok has been highlited from the 2000s the efficient of hanok's eco-friendly function and healing effectiveness has been emphasized. Today, the number of people who tries to move in hanok is growing rapidly to cure the diseases such as atopy, asthma which are mainly caused by environment. In Korea, hanok takes only 0.77% in whole buildings (2008). Recently, many other places try to follow the designs like hanok's gentility such as in public places;bathroom, signs and even private places;cafe.

The environment-friendly aspects of traditional Korean houses range from the structure's inner layout to the building materials which were used. Another unique feature of traditional houses is their special design for cooling the interior in summer and heating the interior in winter.

Hanoks are made using natural materials, such as wood and earth. No artificial material is used in their construction, so these homes are 100% natural, biodegradable and recyclable. Even though some hanoks are more than 500 years old, they are designed with special consideration given to energy conservation. The overhang of the roof is specially designed to prevent the sunlight in the summer from entering the interior of the hanok, thus keeping it cool in the blistering heat. During the bitter winter months, because of the angle of the overhang and the lower sun, the sunlight can penetrate a part of the nterior to provide heat to its occupants and, by doing so, decrease the amount of fuel needed to heat the hanok (source : here)

Beautiful Lampoons hang on the front house

Kimchi or Rice Wine Storage Area?
Traditional open kitchen

When we got there on Saturday noon, we saw several peoples using traditional hanbok sitting on the front like a receptionist. We walk closer and saw a sign that there was a wedding will be held at 13.00 o'clock. Actually, we can attend the traditional wedding to see how the traditional ceremony held (just like a movie) by paying sum amount of money. We could also taste the tea and meals served in there! Unfortunately we have itinerary to go, so we decided to skip the ceremony.

Feels like in the making of Korean Drama
To reach Namsangol Hanok Village is not difficult. It is located in Namsan District which also lied on the 'foot' of Namsan Park or N Seoul Tower (the popular spot in Seoul). Just get off from Exit 3 or 4 of Chungmuro Subway Station and walk left to be welcomed by big pavilion in the left side.

Bukchon Hanok Village
Typical Alleys at Bukchon

While Namsangol is built for learning the history purpose, Bukchon Hanok Village is real residential which real people living in it as the real home.  Bukchon Hanok Village is a Korean traditional village with a long history located between Gyeongbok Palace, Changdeok Palace and Jongmyo Royal Shrine.

The traditional village is composed of lots of alleys, hanok and is preserved to show a 600-year-old urban environment. Not only for residential, there are also a traditional culture center and hanok restaurant. Also for the Korean Drama Lovers, Bukchon is the shooting place of famous Winter Sonata, Heartstrings and Personal Taste.

Typical stairs at Bukchon (plus King Cherry Blossom)
 The name Bukchon, which literally translates to "northern village," came about as the neighborhood lies north of two significant Seoul landmarks, Cheonggyecheon Stream and Jongno.

Beautiful Traditional Gate

Another beautiful traditional Gate
Since it is residential area, the neighborhood is quite and calm. But don't be afraid to get lost, because many tourist also walk in this area without maps and that's the fun in it.

Real Cat jumping in between roof of real houses
I can't imagine the real people living in it, since there are lot of tourist walking in front of their house and see the house as a museum. One thing for sure, their homes are very beautiful and also, if I am living in it, I will be proud to preserve the history. The architecture of Hanok itself is calculated precisely to be harmonized with the nature.

Since I am talking about the architecture, we can see the similarity of Hanok in Korea with Ryokan in Japan. The building materials and the shape is like a prove that there comes from one root.

One of the beautiful ideology of Hanok is the bedrooms were made small, so that the residents could be encouraged to spend more time together in the large, open-plan room with interconnected smaller bedrooms.

Thus, which also remind me about the very different ideology between western and eastern houses. While in the western prefer to use processed materials like aluminum instead of wood, spandex roof instead of tile roof to create modernity, the eastern thinking about how to create an open air with the shape of house, and how to keep harmony with the nature using eco-friendly materials.

Also when current modern house all over the world built wider bedroom, the wider the more private, meanwhile the eastern thinking about how to create a bonding between family member by scale down the bedroom. Well, there is no good or bad in that, it is just showed the different character of western and eastern.

Overall, take a walk to Hanok Village in Korea is a must not only to learn about history, also to remind us about harmony!

Woods and Woods

To reach here, don't think about walking from Gyongbokgung Palace (though it looks close in the map), just get off from Aguk Station and get lost in the alleys!


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