What is Hanok?
Hanok is Korean traditional housing. As the house protects human from the severe weather and provides a resting place, Hanok is the most appropriate architecture considering the geographical and climatic features of Korea. Hanok can be categorized depending on the building materials; a tile-roofed house, a thatched cottage, a shingle-roofed house, a log cabin, etc. Regardless its type of the materials, Hanok is nature-friendly architecture.
The magnificent advantages of Hanok
Since Korea has 4 distinct seasons, our ancestors set Ondol, a traditional Korean under-floor heating system, under the room and Daecheong(a broad floor) between the rooms to circulate the air. They are the outstanding features of Hanok.
Ondol is a unique Korean heating system that is worked by heating a large stone under a living space: Smoke from a fire just outside the dwelling is forced under the stone and exited on the other side after heating the whole floor of the room.
Daecheong is a wooden floor between the inner room and the opposite room of the main building. The rich furnish doors at one side of the daecheong. In hot summer, the wooden floor was such a cool place to lie down. The wind passed through the open space. The deep eaves also shade off the strong sunshine. Another unique characteristic of Hanok is that it supports with the posts, not with the walls. Our ancestors made full use of the wall, and so, the Changho(windows and doors) of Hanok was well-developed from the old days.
If you see a Hanok, you can identify that the ceilings of the room and the daecheong are not of even height. The height of the room is designed for a man’s sitting height, and the ceiling height of the daecheong is planned for a man’s standing height.
The Structure of Hanok
①the Main Building
The main building was a place for women including the mistress and was located on the most inner part of the house. It was consisted of the inner room or the main living room, the inner Daecheong, a room across from the main living room, and the kitchen. The main living room was the most important place of the upper class’s Hanok, and it was the main living space for women and the place where the childbirth and facing death took places. The main building was located on the north to restrict the women’s social activities and forbid a man to enter or come across the women in the house. It was also a place to take charge of the family’s food, clothing, and sheltering, so the furniture for keeping the clothes and bedclothes was placed in.
②the Men’s Part of a House
It was a place for serving the visitors or gathering and promoting friendship among neighbors or relatives, or instructing the young. It was detached from the main building in a wealthy family, while the room close to the front gate was arranged for the men’s part in the common farm houses. It was consisted of the Daecheong and the Sarangbang, a room for the owner or sometimes for the prominent guest. The Sarangbang was simply organized because of the influence of the Confucianism which intends to the abstemious life.
In Korean traditional house, the living spaces were organized according to the class. There were Servants’ Quarters in wealthy house, in which the servants stayed or the crops were stored. They were located at the closest site to the front gate.
④a Separate House
In some large families, there was a Separate House called Byeoldang in the back of the main building. If unmarried daughters lived there, it was called Chodang. The house for unmarried boys to study was called Seodang.