If you happen to be a Joseon historical periods (Sageuk – 사국) drama lovers, you might want at least once experience walking in the ancient neighborhood of Joseon, surrounded by the beautiful old “Hanok” traditional houses.
Today is the millennium century but it is fascinating that you still can feel the ambiance of the old Joseon dynasty era, just by walking around in Bukchon Hanok Village which is located in downtown Seoul
In Bukchon Hanok Village, you will find about 900 (nine hundreds) of traditional houses (Hanok) lies in the 1,076,302㎡ area in the north part of Cheonggyecheon Stream and Jongno (the two significant Seoul landmarks), that is the reason why it got the name “Bukchon”, which means Northern village.
Located in the middle, between Gyeongbokgung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace and Jongmyo Shrine, it figures to be the town of noble families or high-ranking officials that was formed during the Joseon Dynasty. A census in the year of 1906, shows that 43.6% of the 10,241 (equals: 1,932 households) in Bukchon were from noble families or high-ranking officials.
The reputation of Bukchon being residential of many influential people also continue during the enlightenment and Japanese colonial periods. The leaders of the enlightenment party at that time along with many powerful people and anti-Japan activists were resided in Bukchon.
The great fact of Bukchon Village; it maintained it shape since Joseon time. Compare the maps from Doseongdo (1750), Sujeon Jeondo (1892) and Gyeongseong Sigado (1927) with today’s map, Gyedong-gil, Gahoe-ro, Samcheongdong-gil and Changdeokgung-gil have remained more or less the same since then.
Although nowadays, many of these Hanoks change it purpose from just residential to become cultural centers, guesthouses, restaurants and tea houses, but when you walk there, you can still feel walking within Joseon time.
Those environment changing is not always bad, as it has great purpose to preserve the Korean inheritance by giving foreign visitors the opportunity to have living experience and also to learn and immerse in Korean traditional culture. That is why Bukchon Hanok Village well known as the street museum in the urban core.
To see Galleries: Go to the Samcheongdong-gil, across from Gyeongbokgung(Palace). Fulfilled your traditional appetite nearby Hwadong-gil, as there are many traditional restaurants and cafeterias. Interest of Korean art skills? go to Wonseo-dong and join the artist and painter there to craft your skills.
Bukchon Hanok Village also offer a great view from certain point, where you can enjoy the landscape of Mount Namsan. There is one particular spot to view this landscape that available for any tourist who visit.
What you must remember, not all the houses in Bukchon is open for public, so make sure you ask a permission to enter, and not all are free for sightseeing, sometime you must pay a small amount of entrance fee to enter, as the owner treat it as a real museum. One that I entered was free, but they did not allow visitor took any photo inside.
When you visit Bukchon Hanok Village, please remain quiet, as it is still people’s living area, the best tour is by walking, for me in less than 2 hours you can walk around almost every alley there. Some of the land contour are like hills, with extreme up and down path, so take precautions for your parents or any elder relatives who wants to join the walks but do not have strong feet.
The best direction I can tell you is taking subway to Angguk Station Line 3 (Orange) Exit 2 & 3 and walk nearby it to reach the village. I suggest you dress up with Hanbok (Korean traditional clothing) to immerse more within Joseon time. Then I believe you will have a great wonderful walk!
Additional info: If you are Catholic and happens to have time on Sunday, there is a Catholic Church in Gahoe-dong in that village, so you can attend the morning service then walk around after it.
*Source info: Seoul Metropolitan Government – Bukchon (www.bukchon.seoul.go.kr)