Hanok is the name of the traditional houses placed in this area of Seoul. Area which is surrounded by Changdeokung palace, Gyeongbokgung palace and Jongmyo Royal Shrine.
The houses date back to the Joseon Dynasty. Today many of the houses have been transformed in tea houses, guesthouses or cultural centers. I wanted to visit this area after sunset and I did not regret as the small streets with the moon light create a certain atmosphear. And ofcourse it was less crowded.
I hope I have the correct name for this area as my visit to Seoul was some time ago (I've just learned how to scan old pictures). I mean the area between the two main palaces: Gyeongbokgung Palace and Changdeokgung Palace. This area was set on a steep hill, had lots of beautiful traditional old houses climbing up steep narrow lanes. These houses are used and lived in by real people. They are not museums. The area also had little cafes, works of art and view points.
The Bukchon Hanok Village (북촌한옥마을) is where you immerse yourself in the traditional Korean culture. Most of the hanoks are private houses still being use by the locals so a lot of them are close and only the exterior of the houses and the roof tiles are available as photo ops. Some houses choose to open to visitors for workshops showing off kite making, lacquering, knotting, embroidery, and the hanbok.
For Korean Drama Enthusiast: This is where the drama Personal Preference (개인의 취향) was filmed with 이민호 / Lee Min Ho and 손예진 / Son Ye Jin. Please Check map and refer to the following:
Bukchun 4th View (The Hill- No.31 Gahoe-dong),
Bukchon 5th View (Downhill Alley, Gahoe-dong),
Bukchon 6th View (Uphill Alley, Gahoe-dong), and
Bukchon 7th View (No.31, Gahoe-dong.
As with many modern Asian cities there are always relics of the past peaking through today's glass and concrete laced with fiber optics and LCD monitors galore. Seoul is no exception. Today a modern metropolis shadows it's old haunts known as the Bukchon Hanok Village. Six hundred years ago, this was down town Seoul. Today, the village stands the test of time and buzzes with life away from the gleaming towers of the capital. Now mostly a residential community, Bukchon is home to many "hanok" that have been converted to tea houses or guest houses. Largely a tourist attraction the area is a large open air museum with visitor information around every corner. The old town is located in between a UNESCO World Heritage site (Changdeok Palace Complex) and Gyeongbok Palace. It crawls up the slopes of Mt. Baekak with North Seoul Tower looming above. There are many restaurants and home stays in this area serving visitors from the world over. A word of warning, this is still a residential community so unless there's a sign that welcomes you, DO NOT walk into anyone's gated property or make noise. The signs on the pathway will remind you of that.
Bukchon is numerous Korean-style houses standing close together in Gahwe-dong, Samchong-dong, Gyedong, Jaedong, Hwa-dong, Sogyuk-dong, Sagan-dong, Anguk-dong and Wonseo-dong. Since the old days, the place attracted many families of influence, given the proximity to the palace, its location in the foot of mountain with a great view, and being a lucky place according to Fung Shui. Such traces can be found in landmarks around the Seongsan-Gate and Maengsa-Castle. Although the village was filled with the private residence of aristocrat with 100 chambers, in the post 1930, it was divided into blocks of Korean-style houses to make up for the shortage of houses following the sudden inflow of the population. And on the hill of Gahwe-dong and Samchong-dong, 20 pyung thereabout modernized Korean-style houses were built in clusters to form the village of today. As such the history of Bukchon began.
The village located between Gyungbokgung Palace and Changdeokgung Palace
and on the northern area of Youlgok road. Subway Line3 Gyeongbokgung Stn, Exit no 5/ Line3 Anguk Stn, Exit no 1,2
To visit Bukchon, it is best to go to the Tourist Info Center 1st to get maps & ask which site to go. It is a huge area to go around. There are 2 main sites to see with traditional houses & museums around the area. It's quite a long walk so wear a comfortable walking shoes.
Bukchon is the area where you can find traditional Korean houses called hanok amongst the high-rise commercial and residential buildings. If you first visit the culture center, you can get a guide for free which extensively explains the history and culture of hanok. You can follow the walk routes suggested by the guide and you can take fantastic pictures. Some hanok have become art gallery or museum while some of them are privately owned residential houses. To stroll along the streets of Bukchon Hanok Village will be fun.
Just to the north of Insadong (about ~15 minutes walk), there is a small hilly section of Seoul. On this hill is the more historic neighborhood of Bukchon.
The architecture and construction in this area is quite nice. Any visit to Seoul should include a couple hours walk through the narrow streets and alleys of this area. The open court-yard style homes, temple-like roof lines and panoramas of the city below are quite spectacular.
There is a Tourist Information Desk at the top of Insadong-gil (road) by the base of the Jeongdok Public Library. They can give a walking map and museum information in the area.
The area has several small, but worthwhile museums. Such as the Silk Road Museum, the Tibet Museum, National Folk Museum, etc.
See my other "off the beaten path" tips for some of these little hidden nuggets.
Any visit to Seoul should really start with a walk around Bukchon (the 'North Village'), right in the heart of the city. Walking tours (maps available at www.hanokgirl.net) guide you through villages of traditional Korean 'hanok' houses, past art galleries and quirky museums, with fine food and fashion outlets on the way. Why is this area not yet included in any of the guide books?