Seoul, South Korea, the Republic’s capital claims to house over 10 million residents. In fact, when you include the satellite areas that number increases to nearly 25 million – half the country’s population. It’s filled with apartment buildings towering into the sky, trains that traverse the grid under, and above ground, and buses that will take you where ever your heart desires.
The city dates back to 18BC and was established as a capitol during the Three Kingdoms period. Throughout the Joseon Dynasty, Seoul thrived and set the groundwork for the metropolis we see today. Despite these towers of steel and vehicles of combustion, throughout the city are pockets of history called Hanok Villages. The term Hanok is used to describe traditional Korean architecture and the positioning of buildings in relation to one another, nature, and the seasons. Ideally, villages would have a mountain at the rear, a river in front, ondols (in-floor heating) for the winter, and daecheong (wide front porches) to cool the houses in the summer. In a country that is more mountainous than prairie, opportunities for such places are nearly limitless; however, in the modern world only a few remain.
Namsangol Hanok Village is only a few minutes walk from Chungmuro Station, right in the heart of Seoul. While many villages dot the city, this one has been set aside to allow visitors a special look into Korea’s past. Originally called Jeonghakdong, or “The land of the fairies for the blue crane where the Jeonugak Pavilion stands along the stream in the valley,” the area supposedly embodies supernatural powers.
The village is expansive, and best of all, free to visitors. Those coming to this historic Joseon era village can see what living conditions were like for people throughout the entire class system, play traditional games, and see special events throughout the year. My particular favorite part of the village is Jeonugak Pavilion. The large structure rests in front of the lake (satisfying the water requirement of the village) and provides the perfect place to congregate with friends and family for a picnic.
Walking towards the rear of the village, one will find the tightly networked trail system of Namsan Mountain. These trails cannot only take you to the top of the mountain (and Seoul Tower), but to the Seoul Time Capsule. Buried in 1994, the capsule is set to be unearthed in 2394, 600 years later.
Address: Seoul-si Jung-gu Pildong 2(i)-ga 84-1
Phone: Korea Travel Phone +82-2-1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese) / For more info +82-2-2264-4412 (Korean)
Apr – Oct: 9:00 – 21:00
Nov – Mar: 9:00 – 20:00
*** Closed Tuesdays.
Admission Fee: FREE!
– Subway – At Chungmuro Station (Seoul Subway Line 3 or 4) Exit #3 or 4, walk for 5 minutes. (Behind Chungang Univ. Affiliated Hospital)
– Bus – Take Bus #0013, 0211, 104, 105, 263, 371, 400, 604, or 7011. Get off in front of Geukdong Building at Twegye 3 (sam)-ga