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Visit This Traditional Korean Tea House With a Conscience

At the base of Songnisan Mountain, about 3.5 hours journey from Seoul, South Korea, lies a very unique, traditional Korean Tea House. It was built in the 1920s during the Joseon Dynasty by Seon Byeongguk.

The building lies in the middle of Sanmgacheon Stream, which flows from Songnisan Mountain, and is surrounded by farmlands and the peaceful Songnisan National Park.

The layout is a lotus flower floating on water which according to Korean geomancy symbolizes fertility, prosperity, and longevity for the occupants of the house. (Image via Jarrod Hall / Vimeo Screenshot)

The layout is a lotus flower floating on water, which, according to Korean geomancy, symbolizes fertility, prosperity, and longevity for the occupants of the house. (Image: Jarrod Hall via Screenshot/Vimeo)

The layout of the building resembles a lotus flower floating on water, and is known to have incredible Fengshui. It is perfect for a day trip, but you also have the option of spending the night there too. If you are looking to escape technology and experience a taste of what traditional life was like in the past — this place is for you.

The Korean government has registered the house as “Important Folklore Material No. 134,” and it was also considered, at one point, as a potential house of parliament.

Cat resting inside the 1920s Joseon Dynasty Tea House. (Image via Jarrod Hall / Vimeo Screenshot)

Cat resting inside the 1920s Joseon Dynasty Tea House. (Image: Jarrod Hall via Screenshot/Vimeo)

The most famous tea served at the Tea House is Jujube tea — a tea made out of dates. And on special occasions Lotus tea is served  — a tea made from real lotus flowers soaked overnight.

Inside the main house a pair of massive horizontal tree trunks support the roof. The twisting tree trunks are polished to show the beauty of the wood, and is said to resemble two oriental dragons.

Beautiful plant and hand detail as Yongshee gardens - nicely captured by filmmaker Jarrod Hall. (Image via Jarrod Hall / Vimeo Screenshot)

Beautiful plant and hand detail at Yongshee gardens – nicely captured by filmmaker Jarrod Hall. (Image: Jarrod Hall via Screenshot/Vimeo)

One of the most beautiful things about the house is one of the house’s owners — Hong Yongchee.

Yongchee runs the Tea House, which is her husbands ancestral home, and has never lived in a modern house.

Hong Yonghee working in her garden. (Image via Jarrod Hall / Vimeo Screenshot)

Hong Yonghee working in her garden. (Image: Jarrod Hall via Screenshot/Vimeo)

She dresses in Hanbok (traditional Korean clothes), keeps a vegetable garden that feeds everyone, and practices Falun Gong — an ancient Chinese qigong practice that follows three principles of truth, compassion, and tolerance. She practices the gentle exercises every morning.

Yonghee practices the gentle Falun Gong exercises each morning. (Image via Jarrod Hall / Vimeo Screenshot)

Every morning Yonghee practices the gentle Falun Gong exercises. (Image: Jarrod Hall via Screenshot/Vimeo)

The featured video, by filmmaker and photojournalist Jarrod Hall, is about her life caring for this traditional building, and how she is an advocate for human rights issues in China. She reaches hundreds of travelers from all over the world each day, letting them know about Falun Gong and the human rights abuses against it’s practitioners in China. There is a petition for the United Nations that she lets people sign to take action.

Hong Yonghee, detail of hands while meditating. (Image via Jarrod Hall / Vimeo Screenshot)

Hong Yonghee – detail of hands while meditating. (Image: Jarrod Hall via Screenshot/Vimeo)

One hundred million people used to practice Falun Gong in China, until 1999 when the Chinese Communist Party became fearful of the number of people practicing. This is when they started the brutal persecution of the practice.

Some Chinese tourists try to avoid her when they see the flyers about Falun Gong, as some of them think that they will get into trouble for reading one. But Hong Yongchee approaches them individually to let them know about the truth of the situation happening in China.

Choi Heesu a visitor to the Tea House. (Image via Jarrod Hall / Vimeo Screenshot)

Choi Heesu a visitor to the Tea House. (Image: Jarrod Hall  via Screenshot/Vimeo)

Choi Heesu, a tea house visitor, said after learning the truth from her visit to the Tea House:

The video ends with some final words from the Tea House owner, Hong Yongchee:

Hong Yonghee, one of the houses owners. (Image via Jarrod Hall / Vimeo Screenshot)

Hong Yonghee, one of the house owners. (Image: Jarrod Hall via Screenshot/Vimeo)

To visit Seon Byeong-guk House:

  • 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
  • Catch a taxi to Seon Byeong-guk House 선병국 가옥
  • Or from the Boeun Bus Terminal, catch a local bus going to Sangju (상주) and get off at Jangan (장안). The house is a 5-min walk from the bus stop.
Seon Byeong-guk House. (Image via Jarrod Hall / Vimeo Screenshot)

Seon Byeong-guk House. (Image: Jarrod Hall  via Screenshot/Vimeo)

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