'Ragung'에 해당되는 글 1건

  1. 2009.04.20 Hanok Renaissance in Full Swing in Korea (34)
Seoul Searching2009.04.20 11:25

Chateaus and castles, aged estates of the privileged few have been constantly turned into luxury hotels in Europe throughout the 20th century, attracting tourists who hope to relive the nights of past opulence and glory.


So popular the trend, a plan by Salzburg city to run a hotel out of a former home of the von Trapp family immortalized in the movie "The Sound of Music" even triggered fierce resistance of neighbors.

Compared to the precedents of European hospitality sector, commercial exploitation of hanok, Korean traditional house has been relatively a non issue in Korea. As cheap won draws tens of thousands of tourists to Seoul and other major cities recently, hanok has finally shattered long indifference of Koreans and starts to gain a renewed interest among travelers home and abroad. 

From a simple hanok home in Samcheong-dong redesigned as a wine bistro to a five-star hotel, commercial development of hanok is in a full swing that the price of a mediocre hanok home can easily fetch for a double and even triple the price as compared to a few years ago. 

The modern-day rediscovery of potential commercial value in hanok was pioneered by Jeonju, the culinary capital of Korea famous for bibimbap (mixed rice and vegetables) and the birthplace of Yi Dynasty of Chosun. 

Jeonju city officials have been brainstorming since early 2000 over some candidates other than bibimbap that would enhance tourist attraction of the city, when they turned their attention to nearly 700 hanok homes preserved by the presidential order but left alone for several decades, languishing in the strict restriction of economic activity within the district. 

Jeonju first built a couple of model hanoks that would showcase the city's architectural heritage and traditional ways of life. It then subsidized renovation of scores of existing hanok homes owned by local residents. Its most popular project among tourists, however, was a hanok hostel that opened before the 2002 World Cup, where tourists can experience the authentic traditional life of Koreans complete with a Korean breakfast. 

Jeonju's hanok experiment has soon spawned various copycat projects by other local governments. The culmination of the hanok renaissance, however, can be found at Ragung, a five star Hanok resort hotel in Gyeongju.

Roughly translated as the Palace of Shilla, Ragung attempts to recreate luxurious ambience of hanok residence from Shilla dynasty where kings and elites would call their home, but without sacrificing modern-day amenities that today's hotel guests with discerned taste would expect from a five-star estate. Ragung has recently enjoyed a renewed publicity after "Boys over Flowers," a hit Korean drama was filmed here.

Another breakthrough made by Ragung's designer was that its builders used modular wood beams, bricks and other ornaments as opposed to conventional practices by traditional carpenters who rely on components custom-made for each new hanok. The standardization of hanok building invited criticism from some purists though but this innovation greatly improved efficiency of construction process and reduced total man-hours, helping to spread the hanok fever among layman hanok fans. 

It might be too premature to worry but Ragung's innovations could signal that hanok would not be considered a rare experience some day in the near future if the current buzz about hanok spreads at this rate.

Until then, enjoy this unique Korean hospitality if cheap won starts to whet your appetite for travels to Korea.



Posted by PSB

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