North Gyeongsang Province

U-Min Gudeul: Korean Floor Heating and Hanok Construction

U-Min Gudeul is a countryside architect that has patented their own version of the traditional Korean floor heating system, or ondol. With these new advances, traditions can continue on in a more efficient and environmentally friendly way.

About Korean Floor Heating

Hanok is a Korean traditional house that is made of mainly wood and stones. Not only is it environmentally friendly but one of the unique features of Hanok architecture is its unique Korean floor heating system. It is specially designed for Korea’s harsh climate. It keeps the house warm in the winter, and cool and dry in the summer.

The Ondol heating system exists in traditional Korean homes or Hanok. The main reason behind it its invention can be attributed to the Korean culture of sitting on the floor. This form of Korean floor heating dates back to 3000 BC.

The Ondol consists of Room floor stone for the conduction of heat, stone pillars for holding the room floor stones, floor for spreading the heat, and a chimney for smoke exhaust.

Although all Hanoks are built on the main principle, they can be different based on region or the architect. To read more about Hanok variations, Click Here.

U-Min Gudeul Floor Heating

U-Min Gudeul is an architectural firm that has extensive experience in restoring historical buildings. They offer regular checks and maintenance to Hanok owners, with the goal of preserving Korea’s architectural national heritage for many generations to come.

On top of restoration, they have actually improved they’ve actually improved on traditional architecture to address modern concerns. Floor heating is a major aspect of Korean traditional homes. However, floor heating in the traditional way results in a negative environmental impact. Traditionally, wood is burned to maintain the fire that heats the home. Of course, burning wood has a very large carbon footprint.

As a result, U-Min Gudeul has developed their own Korean floor heating system that reduces the impact on the environment. The patented system combines traditional architecture with modern science. The result is a heating system with warmth that lasts for three days. It allows Hanok buildings to maintain their traditional aesthetic, but use far less energy, reducing environmental impacts.

Services at U-Min Gudeul

-Main business introduction
-Traditional stone construction and restoration
-Red clay soil construction and restoration
-Cultural Heritage Repair Works
-Construction and Repair of Hanok
-Specialized Hanok Maintenance
-Mud work construction

My Visit to U-Min Gudeul

The owner also holds classes about his traditional Ondol system there. In his classes, students learn about traditional Korean architecture and how it has evolved into the form it is in today. All of this is done while staying in a hanok-style dormitory.

Normally, if you want to experience a Hanok, you will go to a Hanok stay. However, it basically just functions as a hotel. You don’t actually learn the history of the building, or what goes into making it. On the other hand, if you do learn about the making of Hanok, it is in a museum setting. You don’t get the experience of actually living in a piece of history.

But, with U-Min Gudeul, you will get the best of both worlds. You can learn all about the history of Hanoks, and how they are made. All of it, directly from a Hanok architect! Then, you can experience what it is like to like to live in one right after.

It is a truly unique experience. Even though I stayed in a Hanok house before, I never got a chance to learn about Korean floor heating and see it in operation. It was fun to learn more about it.

Learning the Details of Hanok Construction

Right outside of the dormitory, there is a model Hanok. The model Hanok building has the details of the construction laid out bare. You can really understand every aspect of constructing a Hanok, in detail.

The owner came and explained everything we were seeing in detail. He was extremely kind. We learned everything there is to know about Hanok homes and his patented Gudeul system. Being extremely knowledgeable, he was able to answer all questions patiently and thoroughly. I learned far more about the traditional homes of Korea than I had ever thought possible!

At the end, we got to have a delicious treat. We roasted a sweet potato in the fire that heated the home’s floor, just as they would have way back during the Joseon dynasty. It was so delicious! It was an experience I definitely won’t forget anytime soon!

If you go yourself, keep in mind that it is a long ways from any city, smack dab in the center of the countryside. As such, it will be a lot of fun if you go during the day, with a group of friends. This place is recommended for those who have an interest in architecture and Korean traditional culture.

Location & Contact Information

U-Min Gudeul (유민구들)

Address: 1233, Bijae-ro, Gonggeom-myeon, Sangju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do
Korean address: 경북 상주시 공검면 비재로 1233
🇮🇳 Arya Akanksha

A traveler and aspiring photographer . I love exploring different cultures and hidden gems.