Today’s post is inspired by Leighton from Leighton Travels, who just published a great article about his visit to a hanok village in Otgol, South Korea. He reminded me of my own experience in a hanok when I travelled to South Korea back in 2018.
Bukchon Hanok Village is a Korean traditional village within the city of Seoul, located on the top of a hill between Gyeongbok Palace, Changdeok Palace, and Jongmyo Royal Shrine.
Composed of a network of alleyways, Bukchon Village is a well preserved example of a classic Korean residential quarter with over 600 years of history. It contains 900 hanoks, traditional homes that were first designed and built in the 14th century during the Joseon Dynasty.
Hanok construction is reflective of Korean design principles that emphasize physical and visual harmony between architecture and the nature that surrounds it, perhaps the epitome of eco-architecture. They are typically built with natural materials, including wooden beams and Hanji paper for doors and windows, making them largely biodegradable. The shape of the hanok further allows for a natural heating and cooling system. This varies by geography, with those in cooler northern regions built as a square with a courtyard in order to better retain heat, whereas those in the south are L-shaped and more open. Another unique element is ondol flooring that involves the use of heated cooking stones and underfloor pipes to warm the room.
We had the opportunity to stay at a renovated hanok in Bukchon Hanok Village, which we booked through Airbnb. To date, this remains one of my favourite of all the accommodations we’ve experienced in our travels. Our host was a lovely woman named Mi Kyung, who made us the most delicious Korean breakfasts every morning. The top highlight however, was our affectionate canine friend – Jack. I hope that the little guy is keeping well these days.