Hanoks can survive . . .

. . . . when they are outside Seoul

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한국어 번역 - 클릭

Hahoe (l) and Yangdong (r)


Two Korean hanok villages — Hahoe and Yangdong — were designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites on Saturday July 31st 2010. The World Heritage Committee (WHC) approved the addition of the two villages to the World Cultural Heritage list during its 34th session in Brasilia.

Korea's Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA) said that "the committee highly appreciated the time-honored “living heritage” of the villages that have existed since the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910)." According to the CHA, the committee reckoned that the two villages preserve the unique Confucian culture and traditional residences in harmony with nature and the other ancient buildings.

Hahoe Village is a community of the Pungsan Yu families who settled in the region from the 16th century. Their residences, Confucian school, many other ancient structures and unique folk arts such as mask dances and “byeolsingut,” a shamanist rite, are preserved in harmony with the natural landscape.

Located in the city of Gyeongju, the old capital of the Silla Kingdom, Yangdong is a community of the Wolseong Son and Yeogang Yi families who settled there from the 15th century.

In sharp contrast, hanoks in Seoul continue to be destroyed while the Mayor and other city officials speak politically correct volumes of how much they do to protect and preserve them!

Kahoi-dong, indeed the whole of Bukchon, has been designated as a preservation area since the 1970's. Despite an official policy of protecting hanoks, the number of hanoks in Bukchon has now been declining for over 30 years. In the 1970's, the large majority of buildings in Bukchon were hanoks - now they are the declining minority - with demolitions continuing even today. For example, the hanoks at Kahoi-dong 31-93 and 31-94 were both demolished this March (2010) to make way for a new building. Both hanoks were in an S1 preservation area - supposedly Seoul City's highest grading for a district that it is important to preserve.

David Kilburn

1st August 2010


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