Whether in Myeondong, Yeoido, or in the famous Gangnam – skyscrapers and design buildings abound in Seoul. The South Korean capital, a city in ashes at the end of the Korean War, has become within a few decades a vibrant city and a fine example of architectural innovation and modernity. What fewer people know, however, is that recently there has also been a renewed interest in Korean traditional architecture. The hanok, the Korean ancestral house, has become increasingly popular among South Koreans and the government is now actively promoting it, domestically and abroad.
In order to learn more about the hanok, its characteristics and history, as well as its current position in South Korean society, we met with Daniel Tändler, an architect specialized in the renovation of hanoks in Seoul.
Daniel Tändler initially studied Economics at the University of Göttingen before changing field and studying Architecture and Urban Planning at RWTH Aachen (University of Aachen) in Germany. After graduation, he worked for a Korean architecture firm, a guga, during several years and eventually founded Urban Detail – Seoul, a planning office for traditional and modern Korean architecture and design with two Korean partners. He has also contributed to the foundation of the Chamoori cooperative, a construction company focused on traditional Korean architecture.
I think culture is nothing that you can promote or that you can create with money […] I think you can create an environment in which culture flourishes but somehow it seems that Koreans think you can create culture through promotion and investment […] So my worry actually is that also the hanok area will go through this kind of — let’s call it “K-Popification”.
The interview was conducted on June 22nd in Seoul.