Last weekend, my wife had the pleasure to spend a portion of my summer break exploring rural parts of Korea. I plan on writing individual posts in the coming weeks, so keep an eye out for some of the awesome things we saw on the road. It still amazes me how much there is to see in the rural areas of Korea.
This hanok (located near Imgok Station, hence its namesake)we visited was technically in Gwangju but very much in the country. Many of the traditional Korean houses I explore are in the city, slated for demolishing due to redevelopment projects. These hanoks tend to be “city hanoks” dating back from the 60s and 70s, but on occasion, the opportunity arises to explore some from the colonial era. The Imgok Station hanok is probably the oldest abandoned hanok I’ve visited. According to hanok restorer Kang Dong-su, the main pillars date back to the late Joseon era, while other sections date back to the 20s and 30s, meaning workers built this house in stages, including a Japanese-style plate form on the right side of the house.
As seen from the photos above, the hanok is falling apart. The backside of the house has caved in, and nature is quickly reclaiming the space. It’s not surprising that the landowner has decided to demolish the building because it’s beyond repair at this point. I hope they go through the family artifacts left behind and at least salvage the more priceless objects.
Despite my initial resolve, the heat and the mosquitoes forced me to quicken my search of the house. I didn’t have the time or patience to search in detail for books, postcards, and numerous family albums. I missed out on the family registry that Isaiah and Kang Dong-su found on their visit. What was remarkable was seeing (what I presume) to be three generations of family in those photos. The mosquitoes and heat became unbearable, and I had to leave. Goodbye, Imgok Station Hanok! A short visit, but one that left an impression.