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2012.10.21 16:05

Modern generation: “We say that all traditional stuff is too old for us, it is too far from our understanding. And yet, it is the closest to the best experiences that help to run away from the urban flash-like fast moving life”.

Hanok – is the name for a traditional Korean house that is 100% made from wood and all naturally-can-be-found-or-made materials. It was not rare in old days to see somebody build a house from wood. But today it is. People who build such houses do it not only for the good of their own health, but also promote the health-living environment and traditions of their ancestors.


It is not a secret why wood is one of the best materials to make a house from. It is warm, it preserves warmth and it is a living material, so its residents will enjoy the changing wood scent throughout the 4 seasons of Korea. It also absorbs the sound from outside and feels really comfy to stay inside throughout the day (familiar with a feeling when you just want to escape the four walls of your cement-block apartment?).

Hanok houses normally have a yard or even a small farm or a garden around it. I think it is a perfect example for a family house outside the city and frankly, it is my dream to have a house like that.


During my F1 trip to Yeongnam, which was organized by KTO (Korean Tourism Organization) me and my teammates were accommodated in such a house for a one night stay. The name of the house is Seo-mal-bok(서말복). I don’t know whether it is a name for a type of the house or it is a kind of address.The house was built recently in a new village that is next to beautiful Wolchul mountain and national park in the Jeollanam-do province of South Korea. Each house has a big land area around it which makes it look quite deserted, but at the same time really quite and beautiful.

The woman who built this house with her family was a Seoul citizen for her whole life. Having a heavy disease she could not stand the city any longer and initiated a project of a healthy, environment-friendly design for a house, in the beautiful Korean land far from the city. It was late in her 50s that she has made this decision with her husband. After the surgery she needed a quiet place to recover and enjoy a peaceful life close to nature.

She has met us and escorted on her car to the house. We came when it was already dark and since it is a rural area there were no lights at all, so we had no idea where we are and where we were going. But her friendly gestures killed all chances to doubt the situation. ^^ We thought it was just a place to stay and didn’t expect anything special. First, she showed us to our rooms.

The woman has prepared an old Korean traditional tea, served a table with rice-cakes, fruits and a pile of nut look shells called Eung-hae and gathered all of us around the table.The 1st thing we noticed is a nice atmosphere and warm colors. Later we found out that the whole house was made out of wood. Even the doors, similar to paper doors that I saw in Japanese movies, were also made of paper and wood. Huge clay pots of something: maybe Korean spice, rice and kimchi. ^^

We were very tired from the trip and it was a perfect time to rest, sip a tea from those small tea cups and chat. Moreover, the host lady has prepared a special drink for us: a cocktail from a local salty herb “Kalcho” (갈초) that she has gathered from the sea coastal area and mixed with yogurt and honey. It had a strange taste but she insisted on drinking it because it was just That good for our health and digestion. We took our time to enjoy all the snacks and that’s where we’ve asked her all the details about the house and her life here.

The house has 2 floors and normally 2nd floor is for guests A host lady is a member of a big church community so when other church members come to the province, they can visit and stay in her house anytime.




It took her almost 2 years to build this house and it wasn’t cheap at all. Although the house is made of all natural materials they didn’t neglect using all the latest technologies to merge the two worlds: all comforts from the city and nature environment of the village. So there was everything you can find in modern apartment: cold and hot shower, heating, lights, TV and computer (thought there was no Wi-fi), toilets inside etc. But when you open the window, you get slapped by a freshness of the air, coming from the mountains, trees and grass and can see the stars at its brightest and listen to the silence…. Me and other girls took our time to just sit near the window and enjoy the air and star view and share a light chat. It was only the tiredness that made us go back to our rooms and sleep.

Although we slept on a floor mats, it was warm and we had a great rest. The barking of two cute dogs has wakened us up.

It was a magic morning, with freshly prepared breakfast that consisted of Korean porridge, home-made soybean milk, eggs, salad and fruits. We didn’t want to leave, but it was a time to move on.

I liked staying in that house, even for one night. But I got a strong desire to come back and stay there again for longer.

Thank you, Seo-mal-bok! J




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