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Koreans transforming traditional hanok houses for 21st-century living


Built from the time of the Chosun dynasty
from 1392 to 1910, hanok are single-storey houses made of wood and stone, featuring tiled
roofs, wooden pillars, paper windows, a small courtyard and floor heating. They started disappearing in the 1970s and
1980s… but they are making a comeback. More hanoks are being refurbished for modern
living…. a unique blend of tradition and modern day convenience our News feature tonight
with Kim Jungsoo. Korea’s traditional houses, or hanok, have
long been known for their grace and natural beauty, but modern-day Koreans often see them
more as tourist attractions than as places to live. The general perception is that hanok can’t
contain heat very well and are incompatible with the technological advances now synonymous
with modern life. “For a long time, traditional Korean hanok
couldn’t compete with Western-style buildings that were designed for economic efficiency. But perceptions of hanok began changing in
the early 2000s, when more Koreans started to recognize the benefits of living in a nature-friendly
environment. Until seven or eight years ago, people simply
renovated existing hanok, but since then, there have been more attempts to build modernized
hanok from the ground up.” Bae Yun-mok’s house in Eunpyung-gu District’s
new hanok village is a good example. On the outside, it looks no different from
a traditional hanok – as if it has been frozen in time – but once inside, one can tell the
house has been carefully designed to accomodate the owner’s unique lifestyle and aesthetic
tastes. “My family and I lived in an apartment for
more than 20 years, and I grew tired of feeling hemmed-in every time I came back from work. Having lived in this modernized hanok for
more than a year, I can say that I made the right decision.” While modernized hanok offer the same kind
of psychological comfort as traditional ones, some key differences are apparent at first
glance. For one thing, this hanok is two stories instead
of one. Experts say Joseon-era hanok rarely had more
than one floor, as it was considered a sacrilege to live in a place higher than the king’s
palace. Plus, there was little need to worry about
space. “In the Joseon Dynasty, the population was
smaller, so there was less pressure to be frugal about land. But now, it’s necessary to make the most out
of the available space. What’s more, there was no guarantee that heat
could be transferred to the top floor, which further discouraged two-story buildings.” That doesn’t mean that modernized hanok have
completely discarded what made traditional hanok so special:
When it’s warm out, Mr. Bae and his family — his wife, his two sons and his mother — simply
go out to the madang, where they can commune with nature and talk to one another. But families aren’t the only beneficiaries. “The modern version comes in a variety of
sizes, too, like this hanok in central Seoul made for a single occupant.” Song Moon-sook, the owner of this “urban”
hanok, which is about 30 square meters, says that she was first struck by the beauty of
hanok houses when she visited Seochon hanok village on a rainy day some four years ago. “I remember sitting in the madang of one hanok,
and the sight and scent of nature had a particular impact on me. So I had the word hanok engraved in my memory
when I started my journey to get a new home.” Song recalls that it was necessary to find
an architect who could understand her desire for a house that replicated a hanok’s traditional
beauty, while also satisfying her need for modern conveniences. “My client told me that she wanted the hanok
to be designed around her comfort, and not the other way around. So it looks like an ordinary hanok on the
outside, but inside it has a modern framework for heating and security purposes. It’s conversations like these, between residents
and architects, that are ushering in a new generation of modern hanok equipped with state-of-the-art
technology. But perhaps more importantly, these new hanok
are helping Koreans rediscover the meaning of the “good life” — one that is carefully
attuned to nature and history. Kim Jung-soo, Arirang News.

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

  1. This is called pyagoda style Araniko who is great architecture from Nepal .he spread to China and Japan abt 16 century..u can see all old houses and temples are built in Nepal.

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