Field Snapshots: New Expressions of Traditional Architecture in Suwon, South Korea (18 February 2018)

Some have confessed to being puzzled by my habit of visiting Japan and Korea with (what might be viewed as) unusual, perhaps even alarming frequency. But what can I say: every time I swing by, I discover something new to pique my interest, and that bears with it the promise of yet more new discoveries the next time I’m in the area. Take, for example, my recent midday stroll along Jeongjo-ro in Suwon, during which I came across some achingly beautiful expressions of traditional Korean architecture that I didn’t see the last time I pounded the pavements of this very same street.

I was going to fold these pictures into a standard Field Report, but the buildings I’d seen left such an impression on me that I’ve decided to put them in a separate Field Snapshots post. Briefly, the structures are part of a compound containing several buildings – all newly built but featuring homegrown architectural elements and decoration – which are used as a centre for traditional culture. The compound sits on the western side of Jeongjo-ro (the main north-south street of Suwon’s old city centre), within a short walk of the Janganmun gateway in the northern stretch of the Joseon-era Hwaseong fortress wall.

Right, enough chit-chat. Let’s have a look at those pictures. There’s much to tickle the eyes here, especially in terms of detail: from the honey-coloured woodwork to the copper drain pipes, from the decorative roof tiles to the bird-shaped metal drain spout attached to one of the gutters.

I’ve pencilled a return to this same compound for a better look on my next visit to Suwon.


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