It is almost midnight. The city still shines bright with hundreds of signboards, and the office buildings glow twenty-four-seven. Yet, the tranquil, harmonic life still exists in some parts of Seoul, especially in Bukchon. The houses in Bukchon are built in a traditional way, keeping the essence of nature-friendly life adjusted through the centuries. Bukchon is widely open to thousands of visitors every day, and also accommodates many of them to share the long-lost vitality in our lives.
In Gwanghwamun, the center of Seoul, life moves fast but looks blunt, representing the dryness and artificiality of city life, despite the energy it radiates. However, just across the road from Insa-dong lies Bukchon, where the long-lost quiet and composed life is still visible. It is not so different at first glance, but guests of Hanok – a traditional style of Korean housing – guesthouse say there is a big difference. A little away from the busy street of Samcheong-dong, up in the hills of Gahoe-dong and down to Anguk-dong, private guesthouses are scattered around the town, which marks its boundary with the traditional Giwa tiled roofs, continuing down to the Jongro 3 ga subway station.
Hanok was not quite popular over several decades because of the exploding population and problems in maintenance, making it tricky for residents to have practical living in the busy city. However, with the growing interest in well-being and cultural assets, Hanok became a good alternative to trendy residents in Seoul, which developed into a form of guesthouse as well to provide travelers with a place to stay and a chance of experiencing Korean traditions. Currently, there are more than 300 buildings of Hanok in Bukchon, and about 70 of them are used as guesthouses.
Not only are Hanok guesthouses successfully hosting flooding travelers while Korea is experiencing a serious lack of accommodation, but they also give an option for travelers to have a room with a lighter budget, and experience the Korean culture with the host. Guests are usually satisfied with the experience. Park Su Min, a student from Handong University, said that he enjoyed the Maru (open space without a door in Hanok used as a living room), talking, and enjoying the night breeze casually with his friends.
It is also beneficent for the hosts who want to make friends with foreigners and can expect some profit by sharing extra rooms. Jo San Ku, the CEO of Kozaza, a company providing the room sharing service through a social network platform (www.kozaza.com), explained that this “Hanokstay” will be a new type of accommodation in Seoul, where visitors will naturally experience the culture of living embedded in every routine of their stay. Jo added that this type of accommodation actually fits well in the concept of the harmonious life, and gives a clear view on what life in Hanok is aiming for.
Some of the Hanok guesthouses also function as a means to experience culture beyond living. There are many accommodations collaborating with local workshops that specialize in traditional craftworks or traditional music, and giving classes on Korean traditional cuisines and behavioral manners. The neighborhood provides a glimpse on life hundreds of years ago, yet maintaining the convenience of modern life, and how we can keep the philosophy of a better, healthier life without compromise to practicality.
In fact, these Hanok guesthouses and the towns are set up throughout the nation, but for the busy city dwellers and travelers who lack information on adequate accommodations in Seoul, Bukchon can be the perfect alternative for overnight serenity in mind. Below are some of the guesthouses chosen to help The Granite Tower (GT) readers for your future travel plan.
▲ All photos provided by Kozaza.
▲ All photos provided by Kozaza.
Special promotion for The Granite Tower (GT) readers >
1. Kozaza is running a promotion exclusively for The Granite Tower (GT) readers, only available in October. Through October, selected guesthouses will be offered at a price with a 20 percent discount.
* Check-in from Sunday to Thursday, except a night before holidays
* Only for whole unit rentals, accommodating 25 guests a maximum.
2. Postcards will be issued to all guests who book through Kozaza.
If there is any inquiry, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 02-1544-5665.