Hanok: Korean Traditional Architecture that Reflects Our Culture

Harmony with Nature

Our ancestors held harmony with nature as the highest ideal. Hence, Hanok (한옥) was designed to flow with nature. The hanok home is built in the direction that would harmonize with its surrounding, and uses materials from that surrounding in the form that suits it. Through this process, those in a hanok lived as one with nature.

Warmth of Heated Floors

The main hanok element that can be seen even in the present times where apartment homes have become the norm, is the heated floor. This was a very effective system for the air to remain pleasant, because the floors are heated instead of the air. It also took care of both the home temperature and the cooking, as the floors were heated by a hearth accessible in the kitchen. The once traditional way of heating floors by wood has now evolved to using modern boilers.

Eco-Friendly Construction hanoak_1

Unlike the modern ways of building, the hanok method of building has little to no negative impact on the environment. Most materials used in hanok buildings are recyclable. Stone and wood are used as they are without being separately machined. Unlike some modern materials, the materials used for hanok are also non-toxic, and they are harmless to our health. The hanok building method also never damages the grounds to build the foundation.

Beauty of Lines

The roof of a hanok defines the presence of the hanok, and the beauty of the hanok roof resides in the sleek curves of the lines. The hanok lines that are gracefully pulled at the ends, as opposed to more angular lines of Chinese and Japanese traditional architecture, have kept our own sense of traditional beauty.  

Open Living Space

If the heated floors were a constructive element developed to adjust to the cold, the open living space was a constructive element developed to deal with heat. The open living room is an elevated space made of wood that doesn’t touch the humidity of the ground, allowing air to flow through resulting in a pleasant summer. The open living room is also used to connect rooms and store items.


The benefits of hanok-living is widely being re-embraced by Koreans and being re-popularized and applied to modern architecture. For any Korean-Americans considering the traditional hanok style for their dream-home project, stay tuned for Part II of this article, “Peungsoo: Home Layout for Best Flow of Energy (7-Things to Look for When Buying a Home)”

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