Close to China, Korea has been influenced by the Chinese Han culture since the Tang Dynasty many centuries ago. Many cultural things, such as food and art, show Chinese influence. Architecture is one of these things. You can find many elements of Chinese style in Korean architecture, but with its own twist.
Although Korea shares the same theme and forms with China and Japan, they try really hard to stick to their own intention and style. It is usually accepted that Chinese architectural style is grand and magnificent, while Japanese architectural style is mature and precise. Comparing to them, Korea perhaps lacks perfect visual effects. However, Koreans pursue a kind of peaceful and tranquil atmosphere when they arrange the layout of architecture, with a respectful mentality.
With a principle of living in harmony with nature, Koreans don’t emphasize conquering and dominating; they consider nature as the most essential factor when they plan buildings and select sites. Koreans follow rules called feng shuey when they select the site of architecture, and ordinary natural landscapes are given different symbolic meanings. For example, it’s a lucky symbol to have your door carved into a mountain, because mountains are colossal and immense and give people a reliable and stable feeling.
The idea that living in harmony with nature doesn’t exist only in their planned layout of architecture –- it also exists in their architectural intention of temple construction. Temples are always built on the hillside or in the valley in order to avoid the ordinary world and to release depression buried deeply in the heart to the works of God. Koreans do their best to make their temples secluded, as they are a place of purity and silence.
When comes to Korean traditional dwellings, we have to appreciate them with a comprehension of Korean history. Confined by the feudal hierarchy of Korea in ancient times, the dwellings are usually quite small and not flamboyant or complicated in details. The ideal Korean dwelling model is a simple wooden building that stands in the middle of the yard, and a small pavilion near the house.