Hanok refers to Korean tradtional architecture with very comprehensive contents.
It is a living place reflecting the times, and thus, a variety of materials have been used in Korean architecture
Generally, houses are considered as living places reflecting the traditional lifestyle of people. Therefore, every nation in the world has their own living places that fit their unique climatic environments, geographical conditions, and economic situations. Korea also has its own style of living places, in the color of the Northeast Asian region. If you study Hanok, a word most people who visit Korea would remember, you can see that the types of Hanok vary, depending upon the materials of the roof. A house whose roof is covered with tiles is called a tile-roofed house, while there are straw-roofed houses covered with straw, oak bark-roofed houses covered with oak bark, reed-roofed houses covered with reeds or pampas grass, and shingle-roofed houses covered with split wood or flat stones.
- To build a tile-roofed house, the owner had to pay the prohibitive additional cost of baking and covering tiles, so only powerful people, government officials, and the rich middle class could live in tile-roofed houses. Local Confucian leaders and wealthy local farmers owned the tile-roofed houses in provincial areas. Even though the houses were located in the countryside, they were generally built tall and on higher land than the houses of tenant farmers, as landlords with a large group of tenant farmers lived in them. The houses of tenant farmers were built relatively low and small, with materials that could easily be found in nature.
- Houses of commoners had different names, according to the shape of the roofs and their construction structure. Straw-roofed houses, shingle-roofed houses, reed-roofed houses, and mud-walled huts are included in the types of traditional houses for commoners, and they are unique in that natural materials were used without any processing. Slash-and-burn farmers in mountain villages built shingle-roofed houses with split woods, or reed-roofed houses with pampas grass or reeds. People who lived near rivers built mud walls using stones, and covered the walls with the roof.
Yellow earth, which could be commonly found in fields, was used as a material to make walls, and thinly split rocks were used in the ondol, Korean underfloor heating system. Pillars were made of wood found in the mountains, and fences were made of stones or mud. Walls were made of soil, stones, sand, and mortar. As seen from this list of materials, Korean people have historically enjoyed the benefits of nature, and lived in harmony with nature.
- Hanok is like a container where people's lives are stored. The term does not simply refer to tile-roofed houses, but to a type of architecture with very comprehensive contents, where a variety of materials were used and the times were reflected.