Hangul Study - CULTURE  
[House] HanOk

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Generally, houses are considered as living places reflecting the traditional lifestyle of people. Therefore, every nation in the world has their own living spaces that fit their unique climatic environments, geographical conditions, and economic situations.

Korea also has its own style of living space, in the color of the Northeast Asian region. If you study Hanok, a word most people who visit Korea would remember, you can see that the types of Hanok vary, depending upon the materials of the roof. There are many different kinds of Hanok roofing, such as, the tiled-roof, oak bark-roof, reed-roof, and shingle-roof, among others built with materials such as split wood or flat stones.

To build a tile-roofed house, the owner had to pay the prohibitive additional cost of baking and covering tiles, so only powerful people, government officials, and the rich middle class could live in tile-roofed houses. Local Confucian leaders and wealthy local farmers owned the tile-roofed houses in provincial areas.

Even though the houses were located in the countryside, they were generally built tall and on higher land than the houses of tenant farmers, as landlords with a large group of tenant farmers lived in them.

The houses of tenant farmers were built relatively low and small, with materials that could easily be found in nature.

Houses of commoners had different names, according to the shape of the roofs and their construction structure. Straw-roofed houses, shingle-roofed houses, reed-roofed houses, and mud-walled huts are included in the types of traditional houses for commoners, and they are unique in that natural materials were used without any processing. Slash-and-burn farmers in mountain villages built shingle-roofed houses with split wood, or reed-roofed houses with pampas grass or reeds. People who lived near rivers built mud walls using stones, and covered the walls with the roof.

Yellow earth, which could be ordinarily found in fields, was used as a material to make walls, and thinly split rocks were used in the ondol(Korean underfloor heating system). Pillars were made of wood found in the mountains, and fences were made of stones or mud. Walls were made of soil, stones, sand, and mortar. As seen from this list of materials, Korean people have historically enjoyed the benefits of nature, and lived in harmony with nature.

Hanok can be considered a container where people's lives are stored. The term does not simply refer to tile-roofed houses, but to a type of architecture with very comprehensive contents, where a variety of materials were used and the times were reflected. .

Hanok refers to houses built in the traditional Korean style. While tile-roofed and thatch-roofed hanoks were equally common in the past, these days hanok generally refers to tile-roofed houses.

There are two main charms to hanoks. The first is the unique heating system of 'ondol.' When hanoks are built, a layer of stone is layed down above the foundation. The heat from the kitchen fire runs through this open space, warming the stone above. This heat spreads up into every room throughout the house, keeping both the floor and the air surprisingly warm in winter.The use of ondol has influenced the Korean culture to a lifestyle of sitting on the floor, even in modern times. Because the floor is used for eating, sleeping, and general leisure time, people take off their shoes when entering a Korean home. This custom started with hanok and the ondol system.

The second attractive point to hanok houses is that they are environmentally-friendly. The materials needed to build a hanok house can be obtained directly from nature. The columns, rafters, doors, windows, and floor are wooden, while the walls are a mixture of straw and dirt. The paper to cover the doors and windows was made from tree pulp. Because the building materials are all natural, hanok houses have exellent breathability, perfect for escaping the summer heat. This is also said to help in the treatment of atopic dermatitis and other modern skin diseases.

Very Old traditional Korean House in Andong City

Korea Architecture of Hanok, is One with Nature


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