Find the Modern in Hanok
Find the Modern in Hanok
  • Yun Jung Ji-hye 기자
  • 승인 2007.05.04 17:14
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According to recent surveys conducted by the international building site Emporis buildings, Seoul is third highest density of skyscrapers.  In the skyline rankings, Seoul is no less than any other advanced city.
On the other hand, there are also approximately 20,000 Hanoks and 100 Hanok villages in Seoul.  Gyeongbokgung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace, and Jongmyo, Bukchon are where typical Korean traditional village houses are located.  Due to its location, Cheonggyecheon and Jongno areas have been called Bukchon.  There are more that 900 Hanoks in every alley.  Many roads and houses have had Seoul's history for 600 years in this region.  Bukchon is a representative area for preservation of Hanok and other historical and cultural traits.

Efforts for Preservation

Under the five year “Han Style project”, the ministry and other government agencies will help globalize the Han brand by investing 270 billion won in six traditional cultural themes; Hangul (Korean language), Hansik (Korean food), Hanji (mulberry paper), Hanbok (Korean traditional dress), Hanok (Korean traditional house) and Hankuk eumak (Korean traditional music).  The Culture and Tourism Minister Kim Myung-gon said, “The six traditional themes which represent the letter H are long ignored symbols of Korea, but they are good tools to differentiate Korea from the rest of the world.”  The Culture Ministry also announced a set of plans to develop the “Han (Korean)” brand in an effort to enhance the value of Korean culture and to further promote the country's image abroad.

The government also makes a constant effort to preserve and develop Bukchon.
From 2000, as part of the above project, Bukchon management policy of Seoul Development Institute has come into effect involving the enforcement of Hanok registration, support for repairing or improvement and reduction and exemption.

Traditional and Modern

The Ministry of Construction and Transportation (MOCT) will develop another Hanok village in Sejong city where there is a Multifunctional Administrative City between Chungcheongnamdo Yeongi and Gongju.  To revitalize the Hanok building business, they would construct public facilities and sites of settlements.  They have a plan for inducing Hanok design into public architectures such as museum, art gallery, and welfare facilities. 
An officers of MOCT said, “So far, Hanok has become estranged from the public and has been shunned by Western style housing.  Therefore this project has a positive influence on recreation and promotion of Hanok as desirable healthy houses in a well-being era.

While apartments where most people live put an emphasis on function, they are far from healthy.  If all windows are opened, the spaces are poorly ventilated.  Many people worry about hazardous material emitting from the walls covered with chemical substances.  However, at the international housing fair, our Korean tradition has high praise by many foreigners for its eco-friendly future-proof house because Hanok makes use of 100 % natural substances.  Recently, many people recognize the wisdom of Hanok and adopt a material or design from the traditional house.  For example, using window paper and eco-friendly flooring material or wallpaper rather than curtains or shades are more common.  Of course, a lot of restaurants and cafes are designed for Korean traditional style.  There are also Hanok wine bars near the Gyeongbokgung palace and Japanese restaurants of hanok style.  There is a unique dental clinic that is Honok style located in Gaheodong in Bukchon.  Moreover, Hyehwadong office fulfills two roles of a distinct village office and tourist attraction.  It is also desirable example of remodeling a private hanok into a public institution.  Professor Song In-ho at the University of Seoul said, “Hanok habitation has lots of potential capacities as historical and cultural heritages and landscape and also cultural contents.”

For the future

"We have so far failed to redefine the value of Korean culture.  The government will fully support the globalization of Korean culture from now on by nurturing Korean products and providing a deeper understanding of Korean language, lifestyle and traditional culture," the Culture and Tourism Minister Kim Myung-gon said at a news conference.
Jung Suk, a committee member of Seoul Development Institute pointed that “The Bukchon project is for the conservation of the Bukchon area, but there is no fundamental policy for development.  It is apt to do not consider the environment and disappearance problems."  And Kilburn (63) a former free-lancer reporter for the British, worried that "Specious houses are built, because Hanok is rebuilt into just modern style.”  He thought that wood and brick frames of Hanoks replaced into ferroconcrete would damage the original form.

In Europe, people are usually patient with the inconvenience for preservation of ancient palaces.  There are lots of tourist attractions or valuable resources that have been well preserved, such as the Triumphal Arch, the Versailles Palace in Paris, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace in England and Taj Mahal in India.  Likewise, Kilburn emphasized that we should reconstruct the Hanok little by little.  Also, Jung Suk suggested that long term planning is necessary for the Bukchon management policy.

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