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A Throwback To Lee Min-Ho And Son Ye-Jin’s Sanggojae, "A Place For Mutual Love"

The traditional hanok endures in K-Dramas, in the fabric of contemporary Korean culture and through a legacy in Western architecture


We’ve seen the hanok as a backdrop to many memorable scenes in K-Dramas.  Whether they’re period dramas or ones that speak of contemporary times and themes, the traditional Korean home or the hanok has been shown in them, thanks to historical and cultural preservation efforts.  A famous shooting spot, the Bukchon Hanok Village in Seoul, is exactly what its name suggests: a village of traditional Korean homes, preserved and adapted as tea houses, cafes and hospitality accommodations.  There’s a street in this village called Yulgok-ro 3 gil that played host to that famous scene where we saw a lonely, shining goblin strolling with an umbrella on a regular bleak day, unknowingly catching his earliest glimpse of his first love.  K-Dramas are replete with such heart-tugging scenes that are made even more compelling with their stunning locations.  












Who can forget the Sanggojae ("A Place for Mutual Love") in the 2010 Son-Ye Jin (Park Kae-In) and Lee Min Ho ((Jeon Jin-ho) starrer, Personal Taste? In this drama, Park Kae-in is a furniture designer specializing in the creation of wooden furniture while Jeon Jin-ho is an architect. This drama is one of the first to highlight Korean traditional architecture as a backdrop for a contemporary love story.  In fact many scenes are shot in the house of Kae-in ,one of the best examples of Korean architecture reinterpreted for modern aesthetics and use.  Sanggojae is the name of the hanok that sees this love story played out. 


Personal Taste with Son Ye-Jin and Lee Min-Ho | @kdramas_recommendations


This house has a purely classic structure, visible from the use of the aquifer roof typical of the hanoks. For this drama, only the exterior was used, while the interior has been recreated in studios.  However, though it is a film set , the design of this interior emphasizes the fusion between antique space (use of wood for walls, floor and furniture) and the modern (kitchen and some furniture). The most interesting part is the central area, a convivial area where Kae-in spends time with her friends, receives guests, and argues with Jin-ho. 



Ground Plan showing hanok in Personal Space | www.enterooms.wordpress.com


Its living room consists of a sunken area, creating two seats and a central table made comfortable by the presence of cushions. It is a space located on the border between exterior and interior because, although it is never used in the drama, it is possible to close the room with a stained glass window.


Take a closer look at the fusion hanok interiors shown in this K-Drama:



After Personal Taste, lovers of K-Dramas have had their dose of hanoks in more recent times:


A Closer Look at the Hanok


The Hanok-한옥 were built during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) the longest in Korean history. These are harmonious buildings that consider the interaction between man and nature. Two principles are taken into account in their construction: the Feng Shiu (which studies the energies of the place to decide the correct positioning of the house) and the rules of Baesanimsu – 배산임수 which literally means mountain behind and river in front. The materials used are mainly wood, rock and earth. The slightly curved roof is composed of giwa terracotta tiles, the supporting beams and floors are made of wood, the clay and rock walls, the wooden fixtures to which the hanji (traditional Korean paper) is applied. The design and decorative motifs that characterize them externally have the function of protecting the people who live there.



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The hanoks have been designed to adapt to the climate of South Korea with hot summers and cold winters, in fact the heating is on the floor (ondol, system of rocks heated with steam generated by a special fireplace) and clay is an excellent thermal insulating. In addition, the use of paper walls allows for greater ventilation of the rooms improving the well-being and physical and mental health of residents. In plan, the shape of the hanoks depends on the characteristics of the place in the warmer areas to the South you can find straight structures, in the central areas are L-shaped as the Korean letter "ᄀ", while in the colder areas to the North are box-shaped like the Korean letter "ᄆ" to block the icy wind.


Courtesy of Daniela Astolfi


These buildings also identify the social status of the owner: the houses of Yangban (upper class), Jungin (middle class). The residence of the high society is divided into three zones: the saragchae front is occupied by the male members of the family, the anchae center represents the most reserved and protected part by an internal gate where the female members of the family live, the sadang posterior is used for ancestral ceremonies. There is an area dedicated to the preservation of fermented foods.


Far from being a relic meant for tourists to see or as a passive K-Drama set, the hanok has not only enriched life as a dwelling in South Korea. Modern Western architects have also been influenced by hanok design, proving that the legacy of this prototype is far-reaching and indelible in world architecture history. 


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Take a look at its influence on Western architecture and on modern Korean design:


In Photos: Gong Yoo’s “Almost Home Stay” Campaign Made Us Geek Out On The Hanok

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