Bukchon Hanok Village and Seoul’s Hogwarts School
15th June 2013.
Described as ‘a village frozen in time for ages, although its location is right in the middle of the modernized metropolitan city of Seoul’, we were curious to experience a different side of Seoul, highlighting its pre-industrial history. And came across a true gem in Seoul, the Choongang School, surprisingly not marked as a sight on the Bukchon tourist map.
Bukchon. The literal meaning is ‘northern village‘ since it is located in the northern part of Seoul’s Cheonggyecheon and Jongno districts. Location: Samcheong-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul
If you stop off at one of the Tourist Information Centres located just north of Anguk station, pick up a map of the area and then don’t take the recommended short cut (neon highlighter) but stick to the recommended walk way as indicated on the map (red route)!
Mainly, Bukchon is an actual residential area. Which is why the tourist handout made clear that the ‘use of megaphones, or to leave garbage or engage in horseplay‘ was not a good idea.
The village streets mainly look like this. Renovated hanoks, square shaped with a central courtyard, solid wooden doors, roofs that look like waves, houses clustered together, separated by skinny winding alleyways.
Entering hilly Bukchon. Wooden latticed shutters and thick walls keep the curious out.
Some owners did keep traditional architecture in mind when renovating.
Others liked to stir up the village character a bit.
Many rich people live in Bukchon today and real estate prices have sky-rocketed. Many old craftsmen sold and left or couldn’t keep up with the rent. So I have heard.
Modern house – modern look.
Modern house – (getting) beautiful old look.
Interspersed examples of ugly.
Bukchon is a clash of modernity with tradition and a symbol of Asia’s struggle to keep the old alive.
Introducing technology to house entrances.
There are also numerous galleries which support contemporary Korean art.
Sophisticated gift shops.
Hip and expensive cafés.
It’s a ‘hit and miss experience’ as our handout stated, thereby referring to the offered craft program at the Crafts Experience Center where tourists can participate in ‘flower pocket making, paper doll making, jewellery box making and folk painting fan drawing‘. Location: 24-51, Bukchon-ro, 12 gil
Tomek is inspecting with a generous safety distance.
There are workshop places with traditional crafts, most offering a neat hands on experience.
Many houses showcase elements of traditional Seoul, be it in terms of arts and crafts, ways of living, or cuisine.
This house was making Samhaeju, which is a Korean rice wine, described to have a rich taste and aromatic bouquet due to a special process of triple fermentation. You can come in for a free tasting.
The place had some modern Korean art on display as well.
In Bukchon, you will come across places, labelled ‘museum’ and ‘observatory’, but some are only loosely connected to what me and you associate with those terms.
The tea museum is also an entrance to the other room which is a very nice café where you can order drinks, to sip at their grand terrace overlooking Bukchon.
Maybe that’s why it says Tea Museum in brackets.
The Bukchon Observatory is simply a tourist trap where you can pay for a view that you get for free by walking around. However, the village is plastered with ‘Observatory’ signs and arrows.
But generally, Bukchon is a unique place in Seoul and a very nice way to spend the afternoon strolling around in a more serene district. Here are some of our views to scroll through.
Do not miss those PHOTO SPOTs! They are clearly indicated on the spot.
First floor is kinda thin!
Some interesting architectural examples are shield off from the public, simply displaying a plaque to read. Like the house from 1938 which introduced modern building design to Korean-style houses. It said to feature an attic and western interior, a steep roof which gives the house a peculiar look, marking the beginnings of modernization. So the plaque said. It states the location: 31-1, Gahoe-dong, Jongno-gu
But it was impossible to even catch a glimpse behind that wall.
For ultimate authenticity, you can rent.
We even came across a new religion. Kumkangdaedo is 139 years old since it was established in 1874. It ‘believes the coming of Geongonbumo as the eternal saviour of human beings, according to their teachings cultures human morality through mind cultivation based on the spirit of Righteous Sincerity and tries to bloom the moral civilization of human beings‘. OMG, awesome! But they should think of an easier name. Not more than two syllables. Jeez, that would be something!
I peeked through the fence to take a pic of their headquarters.
Now, some flower pics!
Well, I was going to say that due to the hilly terrain, comfy shoes would be a good idea but I guess high heels are coping just fine.
This couple had matching shoes and outfits in partner look, a very popular couple trend in Seoul, together with other beauty phenomena, I will be rambling about soon on my blog.
When you suddenly see stores with a wide variety of audiovisual K-pop elements, you might question why that is. This is when you will find a gorgeous old high school campus.
What a sight! Choongang Middle and High School, like we have landed in at a British University.
It was like walking through a magic wall to enter the world of Harry Potter.
In fact, it did remind me a lot of my university hall in Manchester. The manicured shrubbery and British red brick buildings.
Designed by a Japanese architect in a simplified Gothic style in the early 1920s, Nakamura Yoshihei designed many representative buildings in Seoul. I liked the lightness of the buildings despite brick. It was all perfectly symmetrical and beautifully organised.
Meeting some organized Korean chaos opposing Japanese safety construction rules. As we walked away from Bukchon, we noticed that the pedestrian crossing was blocked. Something that might have not caught our eye, if it wasn’t for our recent stay in Japan.
Stay safe and have a wonderful day!