Visit to Ojukheon and Gangneung Seongyojang Houses

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Me standing in front of the gate of Ojukheon House

The other day we stopped and visited two different famous restored (hanoks, or traditional Korean houses). The first was Ojukheon [오죽헌] and the linked municipal museum. The second was Gangneung Seongyojang House [강릉 선교장], one of the best maintained Joseon Dynasty residences in Korea.

Ojukheon House (오죽헌)

The Ojukheon House gets its name from the many black bamboo trees that surround it. It is one of the top historical relics in Gangneung.  It was once the home of Sin Saimdang (신사임당, 1504-1551) who is the mother figure of Korea and mother to Yulgok Yi Yi (율곡 이이, 1536-1584). Yi Yi was one of the most famous scholars and politicians of the Joseon Period.

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Yulgok Yi I (left) and Shin Saimdang (right) – famous residents of Ojukheon

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Sin Saimdang is on the 50,000 won bill, and Yi Yi and Ojukheon is on the 5,000 won bill

Inside is Mongryongsil, the room where Yulgok was born; Munseongsa, where the portrait of Yulgok is kept; Eojaegak, where Yulgok’s works and mementos are kept, and the Memorial Hall that exhibits the family’s relics and the Gangneung Municipal Museum. It was built during the time of the 11th King of Joseon, King Jungjong (1506~1544), and remains one of the oldest wooden residential buildings in Korea and has been maintained by the descendants throughout the generations.

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Seongyojang House (강릉 선교장)

This site is a good representation of the ancient upper-class housing style. This vast 99-kan (99 room) house is a privately-owned national cultural asset, and has been designated as the Important Folkore Material No. 5. It was created in 1703 by Yi Naebeon, an 11th generation descendant of Prince Hyoryeondaegun, part of the Hyoryeong royal family during the Joseon Dynasty.

It has been well preserved for 300 years (10+ generations). It is said that 10 generations of descendents of Naebeon Lee have continued to live at Seongyojang. It is one of the most well-preserved historical buildings constructed in the last 300 years.


In the past, the site was accessed by a boat that crossed Gyeongpoho Lake, hence its name Seongyojang, which literally means boat bridging site. The artificial pond near the entrance, called Hwallaejeong, is famous for its lotus flowers. There are 10 blocks of buildings which includes an Anche, (women’s quarters), a Yeolhwadang (male property-owner quarters), a Haengrangchae (servant’s quarters), a Dongbyeoldang (east wing men’s quarters), a Seobyeoldang (west wing library), a Hwallaejeong (pavillion) and an annex building. Yeolhwadang is frequently used as a backdrop for historical dramas including the hit TV drama ‘Hwang Jiny’.

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Oh and did I mention the lunch!?! Of course food is the most important part of my day:)It was a wonderful break from Jungwon’s food.

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Traditional meal means floor pillows!!!!

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