Seoul Travel Guide: Namsangol Hanok Village

Seoul Travel Guide: Namsangol Hanok Village

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Seoul Travel Guide: Namsangol Hanok Village

Touring Seoul’s many grand palaces is a must for the history buff, it is an essential experience while in Korea. However, to truly experience Korean history and its culture, one must also visit a traditional folk village. And Namsangol Hanok Village is an excellent introduction to the life, and culture of the common Korean citizen during the Joseon era.

Located at the northern foot of Namsan Mountain, the Namsangol Hanok Village was constructed so that visitors could get a glimpse into the lives of traditional Koreans. During Joseon era, this area of the city was referred to as Jeonghakdong, or ‘Land of the Fairies’.  The site of a popular summer resort and extravagant mansions of court officials, the area of Jeonghakdong was historically famous for its beauty. Many scholarly yanbang were said to leisurely grace the garden, composing poetry alluding to its grandeur and beauty. 

Currently, set among tall skyscrapers, and positioned near Myeondong, Namsangol Hanok Village is a time capsule in the midst of a busy city. Five houses were reconstructed or moved from their original location to this newly created village, each representing houses from different social classes. Ranking from peasants to royalty.  This beautifully constructed tourist village with its traditional architecture and antique furniture takes visitors hundreds of years back to visit ancient Seoul. 

Namsangol Hanok Village, A Cultural Tour

After you enter through the main gate you will find a very nice view of Cheonu-gak building to the left and Seoul Tower and mountains in the background. To the left of Cheonu-gak building you will find the five Hanok houses. The five restored traditional houses range in class and size. The largest and most elaborate of them is the house of Queen Yun’s parents, the Queen Consort to King Sunjong, the 27th king of the Joseon Dynasty.  The large rectangular house contains a guestroom (sarangchae) for greeting guests, a gatehouse (daemunganchae) just inside the main gate of the house and a bedroom/sitting area (anchae) where the lady of the house resided. With a separate garden as well as a study area, the hanok is quite large and impressive. The extravagant Hanok houses of court officials also feature special doors which are designed to partition areas of the house into separate rooms. These doors allow for rooms such as the sitting area and master bedroom to be joined into a single large room, or to enlarge a room when necessary.

Looking around more, you will notice the village also has simpler houses, owned by commoners. If you take a look inside, the houses display various types of furniture and household goods prevalent in the Joseon era. Furniture and items vary between the five houses, dependent on the social status of the people who lived there. Seeing the extravagant hanoks of the officials and those of the commoners in in such close proximity gives an interesting perspective on the lives of the people during these times. I’ve watched many Korean movies and period drama during my younger days. But being able to explore the village and actually seeing, touching and re-enacting everything in person gives a certain vision and depth that movies or textbook could never give.

In order to educate visitors, Namsangol Hanok Village holds many traditional games, educational programs and musical performances on traditional Korean lifestyle, music and culture. As you stroll around the area,  you will also get a chance to play such games as “yut nori” (traditional board game), “neolttwigi” (seesaw jumping), and “tuho” (arrow throwing). If you are interested in how wedding ceremony around the world is held, take a stroll to Bak Yeong Hyo’s Residence where a Korean traditional marriage ceremony takes place during the weekends. An interesting event that we, unfortunately, missed out on. Next time, I definitely won’t miss out!

After viewing the wedding ceremony, take a walk to the next hanok which belonged to princess Younghye’s husband, Park Youngho, and is considered one of the most majestic mansions in pre-modern Seoul. If you have time, take a walk to each hanok to enjoy various events such as a traditional way of making tofu, calligraphy, crafts and traditional singing lessons.

If you decide to visit later in the evening, the red and blue coloured lamps hung near, and around Namsangol Hanok Village will lighten up the austere hanoks. I wasn’t able to return later in the evening, as we were completely tired out from our ‘date’ at N Seoul Tower. But if I have another chance to visit, I would like to stroll this area in the evening, to see a different kind of beauty.

While exploring the village, I came to this yard with all the brown earthen pots (hangari) lined up in one area. With the contrasting modern building and traditional hanoks in the background, it was an interesting sight to see.  These hangari are usually used to store kimchi, doenjjang (soybean paste) and other fermented foods.

Heading north of the houses, you will enter through some wooded areas, and pond. It was the end of winter, and spring hasn’t fully arrived, but I imagine it would be quite beautiful during fall with the leaves in full autumn colours. Or late spring when the trees are green, and the blossom trees are in full bloom. As you trek on ahead, you will reach the pavilion and time capsule.

The time capsule was buried in 1994, to commemorate Seoul’s 600th anniversary. Six hundred items were placed inside the capsule, slated to be opened in 2394 after 400 years underground. The opening of the time capsule will mark the Seoul’s 1000th anniversary as a capital city. The time capsule complex is hidden at the back of the village up the hill. Since we were near the time capsule, we took the short detour to stand in the centre of the uniquely constructed complex.  We stood around for a moment as we envisioned the opening hundreds of years from now. A truly unique and interesting concept to partake.

Standing there, I was reminded of my own time capsule. Sometimes when I’m feeling sentimental or hurt, I would write my feelings down. My thoughts at the very moment and bury it at my favourite spot. It somehow makes me feel better, to let everything out. The thought that only Mother Nature knows of my true feeling, in that moment. Later on, when my curiosity gets the better of me (max: one year), I would go and dig it up. Read it to myself, and laugh. My old self is so full of drama.

After exploring this ‘village’ for an hour or so, we were tired and in need of sustenance. Hopefully, in the form of ice-cream, desserts, and more desserts. So we took the time to explore more areas as we headed towards N Seoul Tower, our next and probably final destination for the day.

Seoul Travel Guide:
How to get to Namsangol Hanok Village

Getting to Namsangol Hanok Village using the Seoul subway system is quite easy. Take line 3 or 4 to Chungmuro, and take Exit 4. Once outside, it is only a few meters walk to the entrance of Namsangol Hanok Village. 

Namsangol Hanok Village Information and Events

Operating Hours 
Apr-Oct: 09:00-21:00
Nov-Mar: 09:00-20:00
Closed Tuesdays

Activity Information
Making mini Korean totem pole (jangseung)
—  Saturdays 10:30-12:30
—  Cost: Free
—  Venue: Traditional Culture Experience Hall in Namsangol Hanok Village

Making mini wooden birds atop a pole (sotdae) 
—  Saturdays 14:00-16:00
—  Participation fee: Free
—  Venue: Traditional Culture Experience Hall in Namsangol Hanok Village

Making wooden chip (Mokpyeon)
—  Sundays 10:30-12:30
—  Participation fee: Free
—  Venue: Traditional Culture Experience Hall in Namsangol Hanok Village

Straw-craft activity
—  Sundays 14:00-16:00
—  Participation fee: Free
—  Venue: Traditional Culture Experience Hall in Namsangol Hanok Village

Admission Fees
Free

Interpretation Services Offered
—  Language: English, Japanese, Chinese (Advanced inquiry required). Call +82-2-2264-4412 to inquire or book.

The fun did not end at Namsangol Hanok Village, continue to part 2 of my adventure, at the Iconic N Seoul Tower.

 

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Namsangol Hanok Village is a free cultural village in the city of Seoul Korea where 5 traditional hanok houses are relocated to preserve the Korean tradition.

13 Comments

  1. Your pics make me wanna go to Namsangol Village.. I just love them all..

  2. Namsangol Hanok Village looks like a worthwhile trip whilst in Seoul, South Korea. It’s perfect that you can easily get there on the Subway. You pictured it so beautifully with so much detail.

    1. Thank you! I seriously love Seoul’s subway system. Personally, I think it’s one of the best and easiest to navigate.

  3. Kdrama fan here.. Would definitely visit this if I get the chance to visit Korea.

    1. Then you will definitely love it there, especially Hongdae if you love the music scene. There’s always something happening there.

  4. I absolutely love ur post on Seoul… stunning pictures . Makes me want to go there right now.. keep the great articles coming

  5. I’ve never been to Seoul. These photos are beautiful! Lots of great info for the visitor!

  6. Beautiful Pictures! It seems you’ve had an awesome time during your visit to this stunning city 🙂

  7. Love the pretty pictures. I have not really been to that side of the world yet.

  8. My brother is in Seoul and he keeps talking about all the places in and around Seoul that are breathtakingly beautiful. I have been meaning to visit him since forever but now I am definitely going after looking at those gorgeous pictures of yours!
    http://www.prernashighonchai.com

    1. You should definitely visit him, especially since he loves it so much and have probably been there for a long time. He’ll most likely know all the best places that are off the beaten path. He would be the perfect tour guide. Heck, I would take that opportunity if my brother was oversea 🙂

  9. These are beautiful photos! Add this to my list of places to visit!

  10. I love good travel photos. I’m sure you had a wonderful time.

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