Category Archives: Korea

Hanok: The Korean House

My husband is a retired architect, so we are always interested in finding wonderful ‘coffee-table books’ about different architectural styles, projects, etc. So we were both excited when I found a book about the historical and traditional Korean house. Hanok: The Korean House, by Nani Park and Robert J. Fouser is full of gorgeous photographs and very interesting information about the traditional Hanok and the modern updated versions that are so popular right now in Seoul. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and learned a lot about both historical and modern Korean culture.  

From the author:

My aim in this book is to expand readers’ awareness of Korea by adding another word, one that is an integral part of Korean architectural history and, with it, culture. The word is hanok and it refers to the traditional wooden house structure that originated in the Joseon Dynasty in the late fourteenth century.

From the publisher:

Hanok: The Korean House provides new insights on the stylish traditional Korean homes that are experiencing a resurgence of popularity in Seoul today. While the exteriors of these houses are indistinguishable from traditional hanok built decades ago, the insides have entirely changed and adapted with the times. Korea is a nation that has radically transformed itself in recent decades, yet amidst the glass-and-steel skyscrapers and luxury apartments, the Korean design of the hanok still survives and plays a surprisingly important role. This book showcases 12 very special hanok that have been selected to reflect the Korea of today.

The original hanok design has not changed. Traditional craftsman-made materials of stone, wood, and clay are still the only components used in these houses. They also incorporate natural elements such as wind and sunlight, and baesanimsu(better known in its Chinese form as feng shui) is used to position the hanok in harmony with the natural forces and geographical features of the site. Each hanok has a unique story to tell, and this book studies the personality of each house from the point of view of its owners, many of whom are talented devotees of Korean architecture themselves.

The photographs in this book are just beautiful. Two favorite examples are below.

I also loved the names given to many of the Hanoks. Here are two examples that I thought were wonderful.

We have a huge old Cedar tree in the corner of our yard, and I immediately thought that we should name our house, “House Cherishing an Old Cedar Tree as a Lifelong Friend.”

This is a fun read for anyone who enjoys reading about architecture or looking at house books of all kinds, and for anyone who is interested in Korean culture.

The Bukchon Hanok Village, a neighborhood in Seoul, South Korea.

A New Fascination: Korea

Seoul, South Korea

During this long year of quarantine for the COVID-19 pandemic, my husband and I discovered the pleasurable “escape” of watching South Korean dramas. Our 14-year-old Grandson is a great BTS fan, and is interested in learning the language, so we were on alert for all things Korean. I don’t remember exactly how we found it, but we watched our first K-drama, enjoyed it immensely, and then continued on from there. For us, it has been a refreshing change of pace from the things we had been watching, a fun connection with our Grandson’s interests, and the discovery of a new interest in Korean culture and history.

That interest lead us both to expand our “escape” by starting to read and learn more about the history and culture of Korea, about which we knew next to nothing. It’s been a lot of fun for us, so I wanted to set up this page on my blog so I can keep track of our Korean learning journey.

Please check back here occasionally to see what we’ve been reading, watching, and listening to. The list keeps expanding!

감사합니다. 

BOOKS/AUDIOBOOKS read:

  1. South Korea 101, by Mancho Soto
  2. Korea, by Simon Winchester
  3. Korea: A Very Short Introduction, by Michael J. Seth
  4. The Birth of Korean Cool, by Euny Hong
  5. Hanok, The Korean House, by Nani Park and Robert J. Fouser
  6. Stone House on Jeju Island, by Brenda Paik Sunoo
  7. A Single Shard, by Linda Sue Park
  8. The Kite Fighters, by Linda Sue Park
  9. The Island of Sea Women, by Lisa See

K-DRAMAS we have watched:

  1. Crash Landing On You (my favorite, so far)
  2. Misaeng (Hubby’s favorite, so far)
  3. Stranger
  4. Stranger 2
  5. My Mister
  6. Run On
  7. Hospital Playlist
  8. Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung
  9. The Good Detective
  10. Signal
  11. Mr. Sunshine
  12. Prison Playbook
  13. Designated Survivor: 60 Days