A Travel Across Time: Architecture in Korea

Modern architecture

Over the years, architecture in Korea has become vastly diverse, with various elements and styles incorporated into it. The city’s skyline is very much dominated by skyscrapers, from office buildings to residential apartments.

Korean architecture may have undergone major changes; yet, it still retains the very sole characteristic of traditional Korean architecture – harmony with nature. In the past, houses were shorter but much more spacious, and with a more personal touch. They were of simple designs with colours of nature. However, due to rapid urbanization, houses today focus more on efficiency, in terms of the time taken to build a high-rise residential building. There isn’t as much emphasis placed on blending both the landscapes of nature and architecture.

In lieu of the current K-pop craze, we feel that it is equally important to raise awareness of the development of architecture in Korea since some traditional structures are still in use today. For instance, architects all over the world are trying to emulate the traditional Korean heating system (Ondol) in modern houses due to its efficiency and advantages. We might often take these structures for granted, but they are what contribute to the rich history of Korea, as well as to the essence of Korean dramas that many of us go crazy about. As crucial as the actors and plot of the show are, the places where they are filmed at make a huge difference to the quality of the outcome too.

Also, knowing more about how architecture in Korea has evolved helps us in understanding more about their way of life in the past, as well as how it has remained similar or differs from the present.

Although the sources we have used may not be entirely credible, we have had first-hand experiences in hearing and learning about these places from various tour guides on our personal trips.

Image Credits (in order of appearance in the video):

PREHISTORIC KOREA:

Early pithouse architecture

Storage pits

Wattle-and-daub houses with thatched roofs: Personal photograph by co-author taken at Korean Folk Village, South Korea.

Raised-floor architecture: Personal photograph by co-author taken at Gyeongbukgong Palace, South Korea.

River

THREE KINGDOMS:

Achasanseong Fortress

Ondol

Seokbinggo

RELIGIOUS ARCHITECTURE:

Temple plan

Mireuksa Temple

Chongrim Temple

Woljeongsa

Bunhwangsa Temple

ROYAL PALACE:

Gyeongbukgong Palace (Night View)

Palace Layout

Gwanghwamun gate (Main Gate; South Gate)

Heungnyemun gate

Geonchunmun Gate (East Gate)

Yeongchumun Gate (West Gate)

Geunjeongjeon

Pumgyeseoks: Personal photograph by co-author taken at Gyeongbukgong Palace, South Korea.

Geunjeongjeon (interior): Personal photograph by co-author taken at Gyeongbukgong Palace, South Korea.

Sajeongjoon

Gangnyeongjeon (King's Quarters)

Gyotaejeon (Queen's Quarters)

Jagyeongjeon (Quarters of the King's mother)

Donggung

Gyeonghoeru Pavilion

Hwangwonjeong Pavilion

Jibokjae (Private Royal Library)

Geoncheonggung Residence

References:

Architecture of Korean. 2010.

Ancient Architecture. (n.d.).

Achasanseong Fortress. (n.d.).

Puyo: pagoda of Chongrim Temple. (n.d.). In Britannica Online for Kids.

Woljeongsa. (2016). Wikipedia. 

Bunhwangsa Temple. (2016).

Choson Architecture. (n.d.).

Traditional Korean Heating System. (2016).

Palace Walls and Gates. (2007). 

Heungnyemun Gate Compound. (2007).

Throne Hall Compound. (2007).

Office Quarters. (2007).

Living Quarters. (2007).

Jagyeongjeon Hall Compound. (2007).

Donggung, the Crown Prince’s Compound. (2007).

Gyeonghoeru Pavilion. (2007).

Hyangwonji Pond and Hyangwonjeong Pavilion. (2007).

Geoncheonggung Residence. (2007).

Jibokae Hall, Hyeopgildang Hall and Parujeong Halls. (2007).

Audio Credits:

Yannick L. (2012). Small Crowd Applause Sound. Retrieved from http://soundbible.com/1964-Small-Crowd-Applause.html

iMovie. (n.d.). Thunder and Rain [Recorded by iMovie].

Hisaishi. J. (2007). Geomeul Village. On The Legend OST (태왕사신기) [CD]. South Korea:Kim Jong-hak Productions. (2007).

Sorea. (2006). 바람에 실어. On Princess Hours Original Sound Track [CD]. South Korea: Vitamin Environment. (2006).

Various Artists. (2006). 宮. On Princess Hours Original Sound Track [CD]. South Korea: Vitamin Environment. (2006).

Various Artists. (2006). 우주 정복 #1. On Princess Hours Original Sound Track [CD]. South Korea: Vitamin Environment. (2006).