Hanok, soon to be a memory

Hannok, Asan.jpgLike in so many other countries, time and tide waits for no-one. It’s surprising what pieces of days gone-by you can see if you have your eyes open. Vacant for sometime, the Korean traditional home, a hanok (한욱) is finally making way for a faceless, nameless office building. Or maybe a lowrise apartment building? At one point in my time in Korea, I’ve stayed in a Hanok. I must admit that they have very little furniture, are small but possess the one thing that everyone would like in the Wintertime. Floor heating. Called an on-dol, it’s essentially a series of pipes underneith the house where hot gases from burning charcoal or wood was burnt to supply heat. A more contemporary variation is that copper piping and hot water is used in place of hot gases. I can only theorise that if the floor had cracks in it, carbon monoxide poisoning resulted. What really interested me in this hanok laid bare was the ceiling space was filled up with earth or clay. Wow, that’s some thermal insulation.Hannok, decontrustion.jpg

It’s owners may have long since gone so, it’s a little sad to see something that has endured to finally be knocked down just for the sake of money. But since, the memories attached to it only belonged to it’s owners, presumably gone, the home must also fade into memories.


2 Responses

  1. In Australia we have many tv shows on house building, we have quite a few shows on the Ancient Romans, so naturally they were combined!
    Interesting that the modern english builders had trouble doing the hypocaust, getting the clay pipes to the floor and then out the roof, quite tricky. Korean ondol invention date v Roman hypocaust…Koreans will say invented 1000 years before underground heating suddenly appeared in Roman villas. I doubt it but who ‘s to contradict Wiki with its claim for the Indus Valley civilisation!

    • Thought provoking as ever, Doug. According to Wiki, the Koreans/ Manchus developed floor heating before the Romans did. But as always history is full of parallel invention. This sort of thing makes you believe in an interconnected consciousness.

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