The Smell and the Feel of Hanoks: A Visit to Bukchon Hanok Village

Posted on September 5, 2011

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Last summer vacation, I was looking for places to see and things to do for free. Once again, the world wide web had been very helpful and so I invited my friend to go and visit this place I found in the net– Bukchon Hanok Village.

Bukchon Hanok Village is among the popular places to visit for tourists here in Korea not just because you will see their traditional houses there but because it had been used as a filming location for several popular Korean Dramas like Personal Taste.

Choong Ang High School- filming location for Winter Sonata which makes it popular for Japanese tourists

In the drama Personal Taste, this is known as the Sanggojae.

Little did I know that I would be visiting the same place twice and a week apart. The first time was with my friend and we were fortunate that the weather was good when we visited. Second was during the Real Touch Korea Seoul Tour and it was raining.

Walking around the village made me remember a place in the Philippines– Calle Crisologo in Vigan, Ilocos Sur. The place has been preserved to show people how houses and streets look like during the Spanish Era and so it was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Bukchon Hanok Village doesn’t really feel like very old anymore. I think because most of the houses there had been remodeled to incorporate a touch of modernity. Observing how big, beautiful and secured the hanoks are I can easily tell that the residents there are rich people.

During the Real Touch Korea Tour, we had a chance to visit Chung Won San Bang, a museum owned by Mr. Sim- Yong-sik, who is well known for making traditional windows and doors.  As soon as I got inside, I smelled a familiar scent. I tried so hard to recall where I smelled it before but I know I smelled it a lot of times. Then, the museum staff explained that what we can smell is the scent of the Pine wood which is usually used in making hanoks. She said that it smells very strong even if the house was built decades ago because they are not using any chemicals. After her explanation, I suddenly remembered where I smelled the same scent– inside a sauna.

I wish I could show you the picture of what amused me in that museum aside from the scent but taking pictures is not allowed. The doors inside acts a room divider but when the need for a bigger room arises you can just fold the doors and you can hang it. I may describe it lamely but Mr. Sim is nothing but ingenious.

Visting the village would also show you how Korea is gearing towards becoming a tourist friendly place. There are people wandering around the area wearing red uniforms asking tourists whether they can help them with whatever.

Another creative idea that is featured in the village is the presence of photo spots. These are guides to get great pictures in the village. In Bukchon’s Tourist Map they are represented by purple dots.

As we pass by each hanok, I was secretly thinking that if I have the chance to build my own house I want to apply some of its style. I can’t help but be impressed with how carefully hanoks have been crafted.

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Posted in: Korea, Seoul