Wednesday, October 17, 2007

K-Town Shocker!

As you all know i'm the most korean bastard that ever lived.

and as all of you know that above statement couldnt be further from the truth...

I'm basically an american who happens to have a more golden brown hue to my skin.

Anyway i recently learned one thing about korea that rocked my world... heres my story.

Growing up when the house was cold i was told "ondol oil lo" (turn up the heat!) and i took it as such... internalized the phrase... one of only a few in my elementary korean bag o' phrases. Anyhow... the other day my roomie was telling me how it was getting really cold outside and i mentioned that it was pretty cold in my room the previous night and asked if he was cold too. He said that his room is always pretty warm because he is directly above the boiler room. And said it was like "ondol".

I prob had a dumbfounded look on my face... so he asked if i knew what it was.

I said no because it was so out of context of what i knew as "ondol"

He said it was korean floor heating and i knew what he was talking about.

Now for those who are unfamiliar i will explain the concept.

This pic kind of shows a more modern take on ondol, but basically the kitchen was ground level and the room was just above it. The fire down there would heat up the floor above it (generally there was some stone to disperse the heat around the floor)

A typical ondol room would look like this. Note the lack of chairs (the little mats on the floor by the table) and the lack of a bed (the little white thing in the front of the pic... an ibul aka quilt/blanket)

Anyway i just recently put it all together and realized that when my parents told me to raise the temperature my whold life... it litreally meant to raise the ondol (or floor temperature as it was back in the day)

Further research on the ondol topic revealed some HUGE cultural things that i never had considered.

Think back to the pic of the room or just look at it. Koreans like to sit on the floor... i do it ALOT... even when im in a chair lots of time i sit on it literally like im sitting on the floor (most of you havent seen since i conform to western stnds when im having dinner with ya'll). But the theory behind this is that people well... sat on the floor all the time since it was so warm.

One place mentioned that the taking off of the shoes might have come from here too. your feet get soo nice and warm on a heated floor.

The last thing mentioned was the korean traditional clothing. "ham book"

Note the baggy ass pants. Not cuz we have huge legs or cuz we dont know how to make pants... its because people generally sat on the ground and with the tiny ass pants the emo kids are wearing these days its damn near impossible to sit "indian style" on the floor... or to do the "kimche squat" (feel free to ask for examples if you are unfamiliar with these terms.

Anyway... so when all the new western home builders are touting the new in floor radiant heating systems (and they are now) remeber where the ondol came from... k-town baby!


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