Korea is a nation that has radically transformed itself in recent decades, yet amidst the glass-and-steel skyscrapers and luxury apartments, the Korean hanok design still survives and plays a surprisingly important role.
Appreciate the understated glamour and traditional comfort in this hoard of the most excellent examples of timeless Korean architecture!
- Namsangol Hanok Village – also known as “A Village of Traditional Houses in the Namsan Valley”, located in Pil-dong neighbourhood in Jung-gu where hanok (한옥) or Korean traditional houses have been restored to preserve the original atmosphere of the area. The location of the village was originally the site of an eminent Joseon-era summer resort called Cheonghakdong. Jeonghakdong means “The land of the fairies for the blue crane where the Jeonugak Pavilion stands along the stream in the valley”. The area boasts such superb scenery that it is considered as one of the five most beautiful parts of Seoul. Admission is free, and every Tuesday is a day off.
- Bukchon Hanok Village – It is composed of arresting alleys and perfectly preserved hanok, showcasing a 600-year-old urban environment bursting with charm. Nowadays, it is used as a traditional culture centre and hanok restaurant, allowing visitors to experience the atmosphere of the Joseon Dynasty. It is located north of Cheonggye Stream and Jongno, hence named Bukchon which means “north village”. Traditionally, this place was inhabited by nobles and their families who served within the palace. Later, due to wars and disasters, it became occupied by commoners.
- Songdo Hanok Village [송도한옥마을] – It is home to several stores, restaurants and a hotel which is in Songdo International Business District [Songdo IBD] (송도). The complex is situated right next to Gyeongwonjae Ambassador Incheon [경원재 앰배서더 인천].
- The Menari Hanok Village is in the middle of Mt. Seorak and the East Sea. In 1978, the government of Gangwon appointed the Menari Hanok Village as a Korean Traditional Village. Its archaic charm lives on in the tile-roofed houses and stone walls, showcasing the true Korean native style of Hanok. ‘Hakmujung and Songnim’ are cultural resources that made the refined taste of a man. Visitors can walk along the banks and use the playground for various outdoor programmes. The traditional folk song ‘Domunmenari’ won the grand prize in 2003 Gangwon Traditional Art Festival. This village has truly managed to preserve its local cultural heritage and all its splendour.
- Gongju Traditional Korean Village was built at 12 Tourist Complex Street (Woongjindong) in Gongju City, Chungcheongnamdo. It was opened to catch the World Baekjae Exibition in September 2010. It was built between Munyeong King’s Tomb and the National Gongju Museum. A traditional Korean wedding ceremony (called ‘gagarye’, mostly held by aristocratic families) is reconstructed as a show for visitors. Make unforgettable memories in the Gongju Traditional Korean Village and witness a seamless marriage of both tradition and modern-day Korea!
- Jeonju Hanok Village – The village is famous among Koreans and tourists because of its traditional buildings in contrast to the modern city around it. It was designated as an International Slow City in 2010 in recognition of its relaxed pace of life where traditional culture and nature blend harmoniously. The City of Jeonju has played a vital role in the history of Korea and was once the capital of the Hubaekje Kingdom, which was founded by Gyeon Hwon in the 900’s. The city was regarded as the spiritual capital of the Joseon Dynasty because the Yi royal family came from here. In the Joseon Dynasty, Jeonju governed the Jeolla-do area along with Jeju Island, which was considered the center of administration. Therefore, the city is called ‘the ground of more than 1000 years of history’.
- Gyeongju Gyochon Village – Located in Gyeongju-si that allows visitors a look inside the life of the famous Choi Clan.
- Gaepyeong Hanok Village is the hometown of Jeong Yeo Chang, the great master of Neo-Confucianism. The history of the village stretches over 500 years which is older than the Joseon dynasty period. Gaepyeong means a village located between two brooks. Solsongju (Traditional Korean Liquor), occupying 530 years of tradition, famously originated from here. It is an alcohol made of pine needles. You should try it if you visit here!
- Simcheong Hanok Village – If you want to get your parents hooked on South Korean culture without any messing around, you could always start by telling them the pansori story of Simcheong. This tale’s heroine – her name means ‘Pure Heart’ – is the ultimate self-sacrificing daughter, the last word in filial piety: she arranges to be thrown by sailors into the raging sea to restore her father’s eyesight; an offering to the dragon kings. Plus, thanks to a bit of Buddhist-Confucian magic, the Simcheong story comes fitted with a fairy-tale ending: after a spell on the sea bed, Simcheong ends up on terra firma, gets herself a royal husband – a Korean equivalent of Prince Charming – and her father’s vision is restored in time for the last notes to be sung. What more could your parents want than the tale of Simcheong? To teach the importance of filial piety to the children, they built a village with traditional buildings where they can learn about Simcheong, the Simcheong Hanok Village!
- Dorae Village is a single-clan village of Pungsan Hong. The name of the village “Dorae” comes from the stream that runs through the mountain at the back of the village. The stream was called “Dochun” as the stream was divided into three parts. “Chun” is the Chinese character “Chun (川)” which is equivalent to “Nae” in Korean. Thus, the name “Donae” was given which eventually became “Dorae” as it was easier to pronounce.
DID YOU KNOW?
Gahoe-dong and Gye-dong in Jongno-gu, Seoul, are home to many hanoks that have been remodeled into cafes, restaurants and teahouses!
*dong – A dong or neighbourhood is a submunicipal level administrative unit of a city and of those cities which are not divided into wards throughout Korea. The unit is often translated as neighborhood and has been used in both administrative divisions of North Korea and South Korea.
Featured Image Source: ©Sewa Hanbok di Bukchon Village, www.google.co.uk