A Korean villa is very different from villas in other parts of the world. We lived in a villa in Morocco, and it was a nice, big, two story house. From what I understand, if you go somewhere like Italy, Portugal, or Spain, villas are also nice big houses with at least two stories. However, that is not the definition of a villa in Korea. In Korea, a villa is a type of apartment building. Korea has the huge, sometimes 24 stories or higher, apartment buildings with elevators like we live in, but there is another kind of apartment and apartment building. These are smaller buildings than the huge towering apartment buildings with several apartments in them. The rooms are bigger than in the regular apartment buildings, and they are not quite as expensive. Usually, in a Korean villa, there are several apartments, but no elevator. The law says that you have to have an elevator if you have more than four floors, so they build villas shorter than the huge apartment buildings so they don’t have to put in an elevator. They often try to get around the elevator law by putting a parking garage on the bottom floor and actually making five floors. Usually, there is an electronic lock on the door downstairs that only the people in the building know the code to, and then an electronic lock on the door to each apartment that only the owner of the apartment knows. These villas look like big houses, but they are apartment buildings.
Here are some pictures of Korean villas. They aren’t big houses. they are apartment buildings with bigger rooms than the regular apartment buildings.
You really don’t want to live on the bottom floor in Korea even though you wouldn’t have to climb the stairs. If you live on the bottom floor, you may get flooded out from time to time. I had a student who lived on the bottom floor, and his mother called him when the snow began melting because it was coming into the apartment, and he had to go home and help her fight the flooding coming into the apartment. We rented one when we didn’t quite understand the bottom floor problem and had trouble with water wanting to stand in the bathroom floor. Every Korean knows the bottom floor of the villa may be cheaper, but if you live there, you just need to get ready to fight with water.
We were invited to visit our friend who lived in a villa today, so I decided to tell you about the villa and the life of the Koreans who live in them. The villa we went to was on the fourth floor, so we had walk up four flights of stairs to get there. As usual, at the front door, there are lots of shoes where people deposit their shoes as they walk in. The rooms in a villa are huge compared to the little apartment where we live. The father of the family is a pilot, so he is always flying off to other countries, and they have lots of souvenirs from the countries where he has visited. I saw small souvenirs from Japan, from Germany, and other European countries.
In this villa apartment, they have enough room to live quite comfortably with large rooms, three bedrooms, and two laundry rooms. In the living room, they had the laundry drying contraption that most Koreans have. We used one for a long time until we figure out how to get a washer with a dryer included in the same machine. The dryer takes longer than an American dryer, but it keeps the laundry mess out of the living room, and in our small apartment, we don’t have room for a place to dry clothes. In the living room, they had a couch and some nice chairs, but they were covered with laundry. They also had nice coffee table, a huge flat screen TV (Many Koreans have these.), and china cabinets full of souvenirs from the pilot’s travels. There was a huge air conditioner in the corner of the living room. Many Korans buy these, but they use them sparingly because they use so much electricity.
I wanted to tell you about this home because it is a very normal Korean home. If we go on into the kitchen, they also have a nice sized kitchen for Korea. It has lots of cabinet space, a nice table and chairs, a desk with a computer, a big refrigerator/freezer, a kimchee (the spicy, soured cabbage the Koreans eat at every meal, even breakfast) refrigerator, and a big crock full of rice. There is a small laundry room off the living room where they fold and keep the laundry, but there is also a laundry room off the kitchen where the washing machine is.
To show you just how bright Hanul is, here are two books she is reading for pleasure: Wuthering Heights and Sophocles.
In small apartments or in the country, many Koreans sleep in the floor, but not so in a nice big apartment like this one. These guys sleep in beds. I didn’t see the master bedroom, but there is always a line of wardrobes in the bedroom, and the one giving me the tour, Hanul, said the master bedroom has the most comfortable bed in the house. Some Koreans don’t feel the need for a mattress, but this family does. This is Hanul’s house. She is in her mid twenties. She lives at home as if she is a teenager. She is a university student. She invited me in to see her room. She had lots of plastic chests of drawers for her clothes, a dresser with a mirror, a desk, a bookshelf full of books, a small wardrobe, and a comfortable bed. She had dolls on her shelves, and she says she keeps a blog about her dolls. She tells stories about her dolls for little girls to read in Korean. She showed me her jook-boo-een (bamboo wife). A bamboo wife is something Koreans use to cuddle at night that cools them off.
When I went into the apartment, Hanul’s dog greeted me. There was a group of us, but for some reason, the dog decided it liked me. It kept pawing at me and trying to get me to pet it. The dog is one of these miniature kinds that girls can carry around in their purses, and sometimes Hanul carries her dog around in her purse. If Koreans have a dog, this is the kind of dog they have because they live in apartments, and big dogs just don’t fit.
Hanul ordered pizza delivery for us from Papa John’s. If you order pizza in Korea, you can not only get garlic butter to put on it, but they always give you pickles to eat on the side of your pizza. She showed us a movie from Japan called Princess Mononoke. It was a movie about a girl who grew up with the wolves in Japan. It was Japanese anime, and it was full of all kinds of superstitious ideas like the spirit of the forest, demons, etc. My daughter says she loves those kinds of movies because they inform you about Japanese culture. After we watched that, Hanul turned Korean Net Flix on, and we watched an American movie on Korean New Flix.
We had lunch with Hanul and watched her TV with her, and then we had to go. My Korean son in law has to work today, and I took him to work. I decided to send a blog out about our trip to Hanul’s house because it shows you what a villa is in Korea and how an average Korean family lives.