Revisiting the Hanok House as a Relic of Unified Korea / Future Plans


As I’m furthering my research regarding my thesis proposal about the Korean unification process, I’ve begun doubling down on the emphasis on the sense of unity between North and South Korea through their similarities. It is also important to talk about their differences, but it’s beneficial to highlight the similarities in terms of developing a more feasible argument for unification rather than spending too much time talking about what separates them.

Refresher from the Previous Post


In my previous post, I talk about the general description of these Hanok houses as a kind of Korean traditional house, where they were first conceived in the 14th century during the Joseon Dynasty. They are dynamic in that based on the location of these houses, the form takes on a different shape, where the regions that would have colder temperatures would organize the numerous Hanok houses around a central town courtyard, in order to retain some of the heat, while the hotter climates would have more L-shaped houses.


This type of housing is significant in conjunction with its placement, as the concept of the ideal house is placed where the mountain is behind the house and the river is out front. In terms of relating this whole unification as an architectural problem, the Hanok house is extremely important in that it is a kind of vernacular housing style that is still found in both sides of Korea.

A Forgotten Relic on Both Sides


This whole narrative about the Hanok house is interesting because although it is an important common ground for both North and South Korea, the housing typology as a whole is forgotten on both sides for different reasons. For North Korea, the amount of Hanok-type houses are very scarce because of its communist ideals, while for South Korea, the amount of Hanok-type houses are very scarce due to Westernization. Both sides are turned Hanok houses into a relic of history, which needs to be revitalized and celebrated to provide exposure to the few connections and similarities that North and South Korea have.

Plans for Next Week

I am at a position where I do not know the scope of my intervention is yet for the target time of the end of this school year. In order to decide on what kind of facility and / or housing that I will speculate on designing, I plan on doing a wide scale precedent research on three specific categories of architecture in North and South Korea:
* Commerce
* Culture
* Science

There will be numerous precedents based on the type of facility that it is, and they will be graded from Pro-North Korea to sense of unity to Pro-South Korea. Doing a more horizontal-scaled research on a large quantity of buildings helps with getting a sense of which buildings or aspects about architecture speak the most regarding a sense of unity between the two countries.



Famous night markets, supermarkets, or department stores are precedents that I will compare in both North and South Korea, with a consistent scale to show any conceptual differences behind each building.



One of the crucial topics to think about within a reunification is its cultural exchange. Similar to the Hanok house, we need to search for relics of the past that can remind the younger generation that North and South Koreans are closer than we think. The biggest problem with the general consensus regarding the reunification process is that the younger generation is against the reunification process

Science: Win over Trust through Adaptive Reuse

Addressing the grassroots back into reality, the United States is a significant ally that the unified Korea would need as support for facilitating the unification process. The problem with this and current events is that there are currently sanctions on North Korea from the United States that will be lifted only if North Korea successfully denuclearizes their entire facility.


Similar to witnessing a tiger without its fangs, North Korea needs to convince the United States that it is not capable of further nuclear capabilities. They can utilize adaptive reuse to convert these denuclearized facilities into something that is productive towards facilitating a unified society. This can kill two birds with one stone by winning the trust of the United States while taking advantage of existing development in North Korea and converting these facilities.


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