Hanok is Korean Traditional House. It is characterized by wooden pillars, mud walls, roof curves, a wooden floor and porch, and a courtyard or a garden. One unique feature of Hanok is their special design for cooling the interior in summer and heating the interior in winter. The “Ondol” heated sub-floor system for heating during cold winters and a wide “Daecheong” front porch for keeping the house cool during hot summers. There are several Hanok Village in South Korea, one of the largest and most beautiful Hanok Village is located in Jeonju, in which I have spent 1 day there during my Korean winter trip in January 2013.
Jeonju Hanok Village is located in the city of Jeonju, which is also well-know as the origin of a signature korean dish, Bibimbap. Jeonju can be reached from Seoul by bus with travel duration of 3 hours. There are over 800 Hanok in Jeonju Hanok Village, which offer Hanok-stay experience but unfortunately only few of them provide online-booking facility. I stayed in Ilrakdang Hanok Hotel, it is a small hanok which has only 8 guestroom. The room is small but very cozy, and the floor is warm, despite of -4 deg C temperature outside, which made it very comfortable. There are no bed in Hanok, instead a korean-style futon is provided to sleep on the floor during night and it can be folded during the day. It is a unique experience, sleeping in a futon on top of a heated floor does make me feel like a steak in a hot plate.
Besides of Hanok-stay experience, Jeonju Hanok Village also has a lot of other things to offer. The best way to explore the village is stroll slowly through the classical alleys, where we can discover different themes of experience. There is Jeonju Craft Exhibition Center, where we can meet master craftsmen presenting their masterpieces such as hand-made fans and woodcrafts. There is also Traditional Alcohol Museum, which offering lectures and classes on home-brewed drinks and drinking etiquette. There are also the Herbal Medicine Experince Center and Hanju (Korean Paper) Center. One thing not to miss is to dine in one of local restaurants which serve bibimbap as their specialty. According to records, people started to eat bibimbap in Jeonju two hundreds years ago. Jeonju bibimbap owes its popularity to perfectly steamed rice topped with freshly-cut vegetables (10 different ingredients in Jeonju) combined with the excellent cooking skills of the local women. Last thing to do before leaving Jeonju is to climb up to Omokdae, a small hill with stairs up to the hill for 10 minutes to take a full view of the Hanok Village. In overall, one day in Jeonju has given a traditional korean experience of my winter trip, in addition to metropolitan Seoul and adventureous ski trip in Gangwon-do.