Traditional Korean Tea House
A beautiful way to experience Korean culture is by visiting a traditional Korean tea house. There are many great tea houses tucked away in the alleyways and backstreets near Insadong. But to experience a traditional Korean tea house in the middle of the countryside in a gorgeous old hanok, (a traditional Korean house) takes the experience to a whole new level.
“Seon Byeong-guk House” 선병국 가옥 is a historic traditional Korean house in Boeun 보은 near Songnisan Mountain near the centre of South Korea. It’s a traditional house made of natural materials, surrounded by farmland and the peaceful Songnisan National Park.
Seon Byeong-guk – Historic House
The Korean government has registered the house as “Important Folklore Material No. 134,” and was built in the 1920s in the Joseon Dynasty by Seon Byeongguk. The house has remarkable fengshui, and the site was actually considered as one of the possible sites for a Korean parliament building. The large house lies in the middle of Samgacheon Stream which flows from Songnisan Mountain. This layout resembles a lotus flower floating on water. According to Korean geomancy this formation symbolizes fertility, prosperity, and longevity for the occupants of the house.
The tea house is in the Sarangchae building, originally the men’s living quarters. The floors are made of bare wood, while the large sliding doors are made of latticed wood and Korean paper, or hanji.
The most striking feature inside the main house is the pair of massive horizontal tree trunks that support the roof. They are made of single, massive twisting tree trunks, polished to reveal their innate beauty, twisting above the main room like oriental dragons.
Hong Yonghee – Tea House Owner
One of the house’s owners, Hong Yonghee, showed us a glimpse of her life running this old tea house in her husband’s ancestral home. She also practices the ancient Chinese qigong practice called Falun Gong.
On special occasions, Hong Yonghee serves lotus flower tea made with real lotus flowers soaked overnight. The most famous tea served at the tea house is jujube tea, which is a type of date tea. Every day, people from all over the world arrive to visit the traditional Korean house.
Yonghee’s life is a very traditional one. She always wears hanbok, traditional Korean clothes. Daily she maintains a big vegetable garden for much of the family’s food supply. Hong Yonghee practices Falun Gong (Falun Dafa), an ancient Chinese qigong and practices the gentle exercises every morning. However, in 1999 the Chinese Communist Party became fearful of the number of people practicing Falun Gong, about 100 million, and started a brutal persecution of the practice.
Address:154, Hagae-ri, Oesongni-myeon Boeun-gun, Chungcheongbuk-do 376-842
Directions: From Seoul, go to Dong Seoul Terminal 동서울종합버스터미널 located near Gangbyeon station, Subway Line 2.
Catch an intercity bus to Songnisan from 07:30 – 18:30. Buses depart every hour, and it takes around 3.5 hours
From there, catch a taxi to Seon Byeong-guk House 선병국 가옥.
You can also stay at the residence in Seon Byeong-guk House, but you should book ahead. The rooms have ondol rooms/ floor style beds.
While you are visiting, check out the stunning Songnisan National Park nearby.