OWL Magazine Korea

Bukchon Hanok Village in Seoul

Bukchon Hanok Village refers to an area densely populated with traditional Korean houses (hanok) located in Gahoe-dong and Samcheong-dong within Jongno-gu, Seoul. While it is commonly referred to as Bukchon for convenience, it strictly includes only certain administrative districts such as Gahoe-dong, Gyedong, and Hwadong.

“Origin and History of Seoul’s Bukchon Hanok Village”

Bukchon Hanok Village, located to the north of Seoul, was primarily inhabited by royalty, aristocrats, and officials in high-end residences during the Joseon Dynasty. Some also referred to this area as “Yangban Village” or “Yangban Neighborhood.”

However, during the period of Japanese colonial rule, some hanok underwent partial reconstruction or were completely rebuilt. In 1992, the Hanok Conservation District in Gahoe-dong was lifted, allowing regular buildings to also be introduced in the area. In particular, Wonseo-dong saw rapid urbanization, resulting in the loss of its previous landscape. However, in 2001, the Seoul Metropolitan Government initiated the “Bukchon Revitalization Project,” which led to the improvement of both hanok and the surrounding scenery. As a result, in 2009, it received the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Award for Cultural Heritage Conservation.

“Developer Jeong Se-gwon, Known as the First Real Estate Developer in Korea to Create Hanok Complex”

Jeong Se-gwon, originally from Goseong-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do, began his construction business in Seoul after moving there in 1919. At that time, Seoul was experiencing rapid expansion. The influx of rural migrants and Japanese immigrants was on the rise, leading to a housing shortage.

The area south of Cheonggyecheon was predominantly inhabited by Japanese residents. As the Japanese population increased, the colonial government aimed to expand the Japanese residential area northward. They first introduced government agencies to publicly owned land, then encouraged Japanese residents to move in.

During this time, Bukchon had many houses built by influential figures who were struggling due to the Japanese invasion. Jeong Se-gwon, in collaboration with Korean construction contractors, entered the private housing construction business to protect Korean residential areas and prevent the loss of their distinctive housing style.

The hanok supplied in this hanok complex area condensed the structure of traditional hanok into a square, incorporating modern conveniences and simplified living arrangements. These modified hanok, known as “gaengang hanok,” were sold like hotcakes at relatively low prices. Jeong Se-gwon’s company, Geonyangsa, supplied an average of 300 hanok per year. In the 1920s, the annual housing supply in Hansung (Seoul) was about 1,700 units, and Jeong Se-gwon accounted for 20% of that. He was known as the “King of Architecture” in Gyeongseong.

“Jeong Se-gwon: Supporting the Independence Movement”

Jeong Se-gwon became a real estate conglomerate within 10 years of starting the hanok development project in Gyeongseong. However, he wasn’t solely focused on making money. He actively participated in the national independence movement. When the Movement to Encourage the Use of Korean Products erupted in 1923, Jeong Se-gwon led the establishment of the Gyeongseong branch. He also participated in the Shin-gan-hoe Movement, a united independence movement, taking charge of finances and providing generous support. He was also one of the biggest sponsors of the Korean Language Society. In 1942, he was arrested and tortured in connection with the Korean Language Society Incident. Even after liberation, he continued to support the compilation of the Korean Language Society’s Korean dictionary.

“Actual Residents in Bukchon Hanok Village”

While some hanok villages operate solely as tourist destinations without actual residents, Bukchon Hanok Village is an area where people live and carry out their daily lives.

Situated close to Gyeongbokgung Palace, Bukchon Hanok Village boasts breathtaking views and is a popular tourist destination that can be visited free of charge. However, visitors should be mindful of the residents in the area and avoid creating excessive noise.

“Encountering Bukchon’s 8 Scenic Views in Bukchon Hanok Village”

In Bukchon Hanok Village, there are eight scenic views that best exemplify the distinctive features of Bukchon. As you wander through the village, you may naturally come across these Bukchon 8 Scenic Views.

  1. Bukchon Scenic View 1: Changdeokgung Palace
  2. Bukchon Scenic View 2: Wonsodong Craft Street
  3. Bukchon Scenic View 3: Gahoe-dong 11th Street Area
  4. Bukchon Scenic View 4: Gahoe-dong 31st Street Hill
  5. Bukchon Scenic View 5: Gahoe-dong Alley (Descending)
  6. Bukchon Scenic View 6: Gahoe-dong Alley (Ascending)
  7. Bukchon Scenic View 7: Gahoe-dong 31st Street
  8. Bukchon Scenic View 8: Samcheong-dong Stone Stairs Street

The locations of each of these places can be found on the attached map below, and photos of each location can be viewed through the link provided by Seoul Metropolitan Government News.

“Bukchon Hanok Village in Seoul”

  • Address: 53 Bukchon-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
  • Operating Hours: (Mon-Sat) 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Closed on Sundays