Wajiro Kon's Architectural Theory on the Development of Korean Minka and Its Limitations, 1923-24

Jung, Yoonchun

  • Received : 2014.06.09
  • Accepted : 2014.08.18
  • Published : 2014.09.30


This paper focuses on Wajiro Kon (1888-1973) and his architectural efforts on theorizing Korean minka in the early 1920s. Wajiro Kon's unique phenomenological approach, so different from the positivistic analyses of his contemporaries, evident in his meticulous sketches and vivid descriptions, helped him theorize how the craft-oriented architectural development of Korean minka were shaped by people's everyday lives. In particular, he found that ondol had developed in various and complex ways, creating differences between the northern and southern Korean regions. Moreover, Kon identified the practical improvements in Korean minka made by inventive, creative people. However, the paper demonstrates that in this process, the new understanding retained the dual perspective of Korean minka as not only environmentally formulated, craft-oriented artifacts but also as re-formed objects that should be improved through an interplay with external factors.


Wajiro Kon;Korean Minka;Ondol;Phenomenology;Everyday Lives


  1. Allen, Horace Newton. (1908) Things in Korean: A Collection of Sketches and Anecdotes, Missionary and Diplomatic. New York: F. H. Revell Co.
  2. Choi, Seok-Young. (2010) "Ilje ha Kon Wajiro ui joseonminga josabangbeobgwa insig" (A Study on Konwajiro's researching method into Chousen commoners houses and recognition of them under Japanese occupation of Chousen). Salim 35: 204.
  3. Kim, Yong-Dok. (1991) Ilbon geundaesaleul boneun nun (A Perspective on Modern Japanese History). Seoul: Jisigsaneobsa.
  4. Kon, Wajiro. (1917) "Toshikaizo no keunponi" (The basics of urban reformations). Kenchiku Jassi 31 (367): 545-55.
  5. Kon, Wajiro. (1923) "Joseon no minka (I)" (Korean vernacular housing (I)). Kenchiku Jassi 37 (445): 273-320.
  6. Kon, Wajiro. (1922) "Joseon no minka ni kansuru kenkyu ippan" (Regarding the study related to Korean vernacular housing). Joseon to Kenchiku 1 (5): 2-11.
  7. Kon, Wajiro. (1924) "Minka to Seikatsu" (Vernacular housing and living). Joseon to Kenchiku 3 (10): 1-8.
  8. Kon, Wajiro. (1924) Joseon buraku chosa tokubetsu hokoku: dai 1-satsu (minka) (Special report on Korean village: vol. 1 (vernacular housing)). Keijo: Joseon Sotokufu.
  9. Kon, Wajiro. (1971) Jukyoron (On housing). Tokyo: Domesushuppan.
  10. Kuroishi, Izumi. (2001) "Kon Wajiro no minka kenkyu to Joseon chosa" (Kon Wajiro's Studies of Japanese and Korean domestic Dwellings). Journal of Aoyama Gakuin Woman's Junior College 55: 93-112.
  11. Tomii, Masanori. (2001) "Kon Wajiro Joseonhanto no tabi" (Kon Wajiro Korean peninsula travel). Sinica 12 (5): 96-103.
  12. Kuroishi, Izumi. (1998) "Kon Wajiro: a quest for the architecture as a container of everyday life." PhD diss., University of Pennsylvania.