Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Asian Eyes' Korea - Hyeonsater House

Potraits of famous Korean 
actress, Lee Young Ae, had 
been used many a times to
 sell well known places to 
tourist.
            Day 3, Nov/19/12, 3 pm: Next stop was a Choga (thatched-roof house) of Hyeonsater, a Jeju traditional vllage house. Looking over the black stone fences, the oval-shaped yellow-brownish thatched-roof house comes into sight. At a quick glance, it seems no different from those of the mainland with roof coverings made of rice stalks forming the upside down v-shape. However, the Jeju people spread thatch on the roof instead of making them into coverings and fasten the roof with thatch ropes much like a net. In that way, Jeju traditional thatched-roof houses have a distinctly beautiful oval shape like the oreums (lava hills) that dot the island. The streamlined roof was designed to withstand the strong winds, which Jeju is famous for.
             The outer walls of the traditional thatched-roof house were called chukdam where natural stones are gathered and carefully piled up to build walls. Clay paste mixed with barley stalks is added to the stone walls to chink the small openings between the stones. In this way, the walls can become even stronger and function as windshields. This natural house breathes like a living organism, offering a cool place in the summer and a warm space in the winter. The walls of barley stalks and stones create a rather unpolished but friendly impression with its unique texture that is distinctive from the walls of other regions in Korea. The black stone fences surrounding the house are open to the ollae. Around the house, there is a shemak where cows are raised, a field attached to a house where vegetables are grown, a pigpen outhouse (tongshi) where pigs are raised, a small back garden for the family (andusi) and a neulgup where thatch is stocked. Inside the wall, many essential and functional places are well utilized, reflecting the busy and dynamic life of the Jeju people. From the outside, however, the house and outbuildings hint at a calm and relaxed atmosphere. In harmony with nature, the Jeju thatched-roof house and the walls surrounding it are one of the best symbols of Jeju and the sight of them make Jeju Islanders living away from their hometown feel nostalgic.
               The lady host was very gracious in explaining to us about the Choga, 3 poles gate and its meaning, black pork, water collection method, the way of life in Jeju-do before she starts to market Jeju honey and refreshing tonic. Everyone in our group bought jars and boxes of the honey to take home. Here are some of the pictures I took at the traditional thatched roof house:
Hyeonsater traditional village house, our designated reed house that cater for tourists.
Our lady host explaining Jeju-do lack of door's gate. Surprisingly she spoke good Mandarin, which we learnt later that they took special language course in Mandarin due to large influx of Chinese tourists into Korea with the onset of Fukushima nuclear issue after the big tsunami 
incident in Japan in 2011. 
Our host lady took down the poles to usher us into her hut.
Our lady host showed us the rolling milling stone used to ground barley and rice after harvest time. These grinding stone were usually pulled by the offspring from the Mongolian horses brought in by Kublai Khan's army when they tried to invade Japan  many years ago.
A baby black pig being reared in the village for tourist  to know what it looks like. The black pig also eats human manure too. Yuck!
Subsistence farming like vegetables planting in available  plot surrounding the reed house for human and animal's consumption.
Our lady host graciously showed us how the hardworking Jeju-do womenfolk carrying out their daily house work.
We peered inside a thatched roof house in the village. The roof are made entirely from barley stalks and being changed every season. It can withstand the continuous blows of Jeju-do's wind. It reminds me of the story of the wolf and 3 pigs where one of the pig made a hut out of grass.
Our lady host explained about the goodness of Jeju honey and the prices. This is the government idea to boost the income of these villagers.
A clever way to harvest rain water to water the plants and water for animals. Barley stalks were weaved into a pig-tailed like rope that tied around a tree with its tail dips into the jar to collects rain water.
On the way out of the traditional village, I took pictures of Jeju lack - no door. Here all 3 poles all in place means "Nobody at home, come again some other day".
2 poles in place means "Owner not at home and be out for some while, so come back another time".
1 pole in place means "Children is at home but owner is out for a short moment and will be right back"
No pole in place means "Owner is at home and you are welcome".

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