Having lived in Korea for the past four years, I thought I’d pay homage to the beauty of the hanok, the traditional Korean house. One of the most remarkable areas in Seoul is the preserved hanok village called Bukchon. Coming off the busy city streets, it does not take long to enter this area where you feel taken back in time. Several houses are open to the public for viewing. The interiors are just as striking as the exteriors.
So, a few things about hanoks.
1. Positioning is everything. In Korean architecture, land and seasons are taken into account, thus, the position of the home is important. The house’s interior was also planned in this way. This principle is also called Baesanimsu (배산임수), where the ideal house is built with the mountain at its back and a river in the front. A heated rock system would warm up the house in cold months, and a wide porch was built for cooling in the hot months.
2. Hanoks differed in style according to the region in Korea. 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.
3. Korena hanoks are environmentally friendly. The main materials used to build a hanok are soil, timber, and rock, all natural and recyclable. Hanok have their own tiled roofs (Giwa), wooden beams and stone-block construction. The edge of Hanok’s curvy roofs is called the Cheoma. The lengths of it 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.
Below are some images I took while meandering through Bukchon. Also, below those is a video with more information on these lovely houses.