2 Jan 2018
Seoul, South Korea
It is difficult to pinpoint exactly why Seoul felt like such a wonderland to me. Was it the groups of buskers in Hongdae, the generous servings of side dishes in restaurants, or the effortless style of every Korean passerby? Or was it something less tangible? I think it was a mix of many things, but summed up, it was the variety of excitement that the city had on offer. Life abounded in each district and different pocket of subculture. Perhaps my favourite thing about Seoul was its ability to intertwine modern youth culture with age-old tradition. I came to realise this while wandering around the historical Bukchon Hanok village. It is a collection of traditional Korean houses, sitting just above hip cafes and museums. The village effortlessly showcases a Korea of times gone by while fitting right in with its surroundings.
Artfully layered roofs with their solid angular structures and decorative dotted ends drew me in. Their rhythmic ridges overlaid each other into the distance and up hilly avenues. The architecture was impeccably neat and beautiful. The mix of rich woods and dark stone with carefully laid bricks contrasted the light cement walls perfectly. We walked up to the top of the village and admired the backdrop of distant mountains. It was a scene that gave us a glimpse of Seoul from centuries past.
Bukchon Hanok Village
The village was open for people to explore freely. Most houses were empty, while some were used as museums or display homes of prominent figures. Others were simply converted into tea houses, so you could enjoy traditional tastings in its authentic setting. We took our time enjoying the simple details of the hanok’s construction. Occasionally we could look inside and see the internal layout, imagining what life looked like here 600 years ago. Although Bukchon Hanok village sat in the heart of Seoul’s tourist area, it was virtually empty when we ventured deeper. The inner alleys and manicured gardens carried a distinctive zen feeling. We enjoyed this measured atmosphere of ancient Korea; an air of undeniable calm.