Hanji Filming Part 2 ...... Korean traditional home

An interesting evening sleeping in a Korean Traditional home …

Typical Korean home with wood stacked underneath the narrow verandah and the stove under the floor, on the right, ready to be stoked
On arrival at our accommodation and as I was suppose to be the honoured guest, I was assigned the bedroom that would have been for a high society male from the Joseon Dynasty. There was a small sitting room next to mine then another smaller room, probably for one of the servants to be close by in case the nobleman  wanted anything during the night. 

My room was large and empty except for a small section on the floor in a corner of the room where there were tea and coffee making facilities, obviously a modern addition to this very traditional room. There were a couple of power points where I could charge my phone, iPad and  watch, but no Internet; all the same, I was pleased to have a few small concessions to my traditional Korean sleeping arrangements. 

The sitting room had a small table and a couple of cushions on the floor but furniture was sparse and very decorative.

The walls were lined in Hanji, the windows were covered in Hanji and the floor was also a thicker Hanji  that had been oiled with a lacquer to make it strong and inflammable. I was in Hanji heaven.

Hanji lined walls

Along one wall were cupboards where I found a set of elaborately embroidered, mustard coloured silk bedding  and consisting of a thin underlay and a thicker overlay along with a rectangular hard block pillow, which was covered in a matching silk pillowcase. 

Ancient Asian cultures used hard block pillows, believing that soft pillows stole your chi/energy while you slept.  In Korea they were called mokchims.  They were often made of wood, which was reportedly cool and refreshing to make sleeping more enjoyable. Older mokchims were 10 cm wide as they were not meant for long periods of sleep. A person using a narrow mokchim would fall off the pillow when he was in a deep sleep and on turning his head from left to right. Mok-chims were reportedly a great tool to treat headaches, insomnia, high blood pressure, lumbago, and stroke.

I managed to find a softer pillow in the cupboard so I swapped it for the hard one and I rummaged around and found a few extra quilts, which I put underneath me to make sleeping a little easier on my pampered self.

When I first entered the traditional bedroom I found it to be too warm for my liking and this was due to the under floor ondol heating and I was a bit concerned when I saw burn marks on the floor under where I was going to place my bedding.

Burn marks on the floor
 The traditional homes were built up high off the ground and had fire pits underneath them to warm particular areas. The main components of the traditional ondol are the firebox or stove (accessible from an adjoining (typically kitchen or master bedroom) room, a raised masonry floor underlain by horizontal smoke passages, and a vertical, freestanding chimney on the opposite exterior providing a draft. Stone slabs and clay cover the heated floor, supported by stone piers or baffles to distribute the smoke, and an impervious layer such as oiled paper.

I’ve experienced overheating in rooms before when we lived in Korea as the apartment we use to have had a modern version of ondol where under the floor there were a series of hot water pipes pumping hot water around to heat the room.  We hunted around and soon found out where the tap was and turned it off and managed to survive several winters quite well, with no heating at all, as we lived on the 13th floor of an apartment block and everyone else’s heating was enough.

I settled down for the night perspiring and a little uncomfortable but as the evening progressed the under floor heating became less ferocious, the temperature dropped and I dozed off to sleep. 

Until around 1 am that is !! 

At that time, I could hear the owner of the house stoking the fire again, putting more wood on the fire and bringing that temperature up once again. 

Aahhhh. Bless him.

The next morning I awoke remarkably bright and early to a misty morning in what can only be described as an  idyllic setting. I could imagine what life must have been like for the aristocracy during the Joseon period living in this beautiful tranquil setting. 

It was another culturally enriching experience but getting up and down off the floor in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom was a challenge on every level and one which I could probably live without repeating in a hurry. 

A new day had begun and I was ready for another  adventure, not knowing what was in store for me but excited to be on this journey.


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