Built centuries ago during the Chosun dynasty,these single-storey houses made of wood and stone, are making a much anticpated comeback.
Our Kim Jung-soo went out to check out thisa unique blend of tradition and modernity.
Korea's traditional houses, or hanok, havelong been known for their grace and natural beauty, but modern-day Koreans often see themmore as tourist attractions than as places to live.
"For a long time, traditional Korean hanokcouldn't compete with Western-style buildings that were designed for economic efficiency.
But perceptions of hanok began changing inthe early 2000s, when more Koreans started to recognize the benefits of living in a nature-friendlyenvironment.
" Bae Yun-mok's house in Eunpyeong-gu District'snew hanok village is a good example.
"My family and I lived in an apartment formore than 20 years, and I grew tired of feeling hemmed-in every time I came back from work.
Having lived in this modernized hanok formore than a year, I can say that I made the right decision.
" While modernized hanok offer the same kindof psychological comfort as traditional ones, some key differences are apparent at firstglance.
For one thing, this hanok is two stories insteadof one.
"In the Joseon Dynasty, the population wassmaller, so there was less pressure to be frugal about land.
What's more, there was no guarantee that heatcould be transferred to the top floor, which further discouraged two-story buildings.
" "The modern version comes in a variety ofsizes, too, like this hanok in central Seoul made for a single occupant.
" Song Moon-sook, the owner of this "urban"hanok, which is about 30 square meters, says that she was first struck by the beauty ofhanok houses when she visited Seochon hanok village on a rainy day some four years ago.
"I remember sitting in the madang of one hanok,and the sight and scent of nature had a particular impact on me.
So I had the word hanok engraved in my memorywhen I started my journey to get a new home.
" Song recalls that it was necessary to findan architect who could understand her desire for a house that replicated a hanok's traditionalbeauty, while also satisfying her need for modern conveniences.
"My client told me that she wanted the hanokto be designed around her comfort, and not the other way around.
So it looks like an ordinary hanok on theoutside, but inside it has a modern framework for heating and security purposes.
But perhaps more importantly, these new hanokare helping Koreans rediscover the meaning of the "good life" — one that is carefullyattuned to nature and history.
Kim Jung-soo, Arirang News.