It quickly became apparent to me that I was in a city with a such a long history, especially compared to anywhere in America, and it was fascinating to see some very old palaces and general traditional buildings that have been preserved. I took a day to go to Bukchon Hanok village, a 600 year old traditional village in the middle of Seoul, with some friends and had a great time! I would say that it was a true blast to the past experience and it was nice getting lost in the ambience of exploring an entirely traditionally-styled village. It was also fascinating to see high-rise buildings beyond the roofs of the traditional village; a reminder that Seoul is rich with ancient culture, but had also modernized extremely fast.
Bukchon village translates to “Northern village” and was a residential neighborhood for the wealthy noblemen back in the Joseon Dynasty. It was located close to a palace so that noblemen could easily be summoned no matter the time of day. However, later on during the Japanese occupation of Korea during the 20th Century, the grounds were sold to the Japanese who sold the houses in pieces.
In 2000, the Korean Government decided to restore this rundown village and have converted it into a tourist attraction. There are many cafes and galleries now located in houses of the village; however, many of the properties here are private and do not allow trespassing. Speaking in loud volumes and making noise while you’re here is discouraged because many people live there. There are even people working there for the sole reason of making sure the noise level is kept to a minimum.
Other than scenic picture taking, there are also specific activity sessions that you can attend or reserve ahead of time for a day trip to the village. There are workshops/shops throughout the neighborhood that are catered to people who would like to experience a traditional Korean workshop (such as traditional painting, etc). When I went myself, there were many groups in hanboks (traditional Korean clothing) having fun, enjoying the ambience, and enjoying traditional goods and tea. I would recommend going there on a warm day because you’ll be outside for most of the day and I think pictures of the houses would come out best when the sun is high, also particularly when the sun is setting!
I went to a traditional tea house myself and enjoyed it thoroughly! It wasn’t the first time I experienced floor seating without shoes on in Seoul, so I wasn’t shocked by it and it added to the experience. I also liked how we were supposed to brew our own tea in small batches at a time! We ordered chrysanthemum, lotus tea, as well as rice cake on the side. I would recommend visiting bukchon village and particularly a traditional tea house to anyone visiting Seoul!
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