Designer pensions: A touch of class in the country

By Korea Herald
  • Published : May 18, 2012 - 19:35
  • Updated : May 19, 2012 - 05:55
The House of the Mind, the country’s first guesthouse designed by an acclaimed architect, is located in Yangpyeong-gun, Gyeonggi Province. (The House of the Mind)
Premium pensions designed by renowne architects offer special weekends

City life for Kim Young-kwan, a 60-year-old former executive at a construction company, was exhausting, boring and empty.

He felt that he was like a hamster in a wheel all day long ― working on weekdays and shopping at department stores on weekends. Eight years ago, he decided to leave the city and pursue a new life, starting with building the house he had dreamt of.

Kim requested Min Qu-am, one of the country’s leading architects, to build a modern house with three bedrooms at a small village in Yangpyeong, Gyeonggi Province.

Kim’s new mansion in a picturesque surrounding, built with the architect’s idea of combing the old and new Korean houses, soon became the talk of the town. Early settlers and travelers came by and wanted to share his idea of living in a dream house in the countryside.

Then Kim decided to turn his residence into a premium guesthouse, making it the country’s first pension-type guesthouse designed by an acclaimed architect.

“I wished that people could escape from their busy city lives and spend a day or two at a unique guesthouse surrounded by beautiful scene,” Kim told The Korea Herald.

Kim’s pension, The House of the Mind, named after Min’s book of the same title, now offers six rooms equipped with a bathtub of hinoki, a species of cypress native to central Japan, and a private balcony that leads to a private garden.

With the use of concrete bricks and wide glass windows, the pension added modern features to a traditional idea.

“The House of the Mind is a modern interpretation of old Korean houses all clustered around a small village and where people move around in maze-like alleys,” Kim explained.

A couple of circular monuments are also a reinterpretation of the traditional wooden gate at traditional houses, he added. Thanks to its unique design, the pension became even more famous after it became a filming location for hit dramas such as MBC’s “Gung” and KBS’ “Iris.” Even Rain shot photos for an album here.
Pension Mori in Hongcheon, Gangwon Province (Pension Mori)
Viaggio in Yangpeyong, Gyeonggi Province. (Viaggio)

The House of the Mind can also be rented as a special venue for small and private weddings, birthday parties and casual seminars. The pension with six distinctive rooms can accommodate from two-10 persons per room. Room rates range from 140,000 won to 290,000 won on weekdays and 170,000 won to 360,000 won on weekends. For those who order BBQ packages priced at 35,000 won per person, an American-style breakfast is offered for free. For more information, visit or call (031) 773-2210.

Starting with The House of the Mind, the idea of architects building pensions spread quickly.

SooHwaRim, another upscale pension built by architect Im Sang-jin in Seosan, South Chungcheong Province, sets another example. The house of four rooms grabs attention not only with its amazing surroundings but also with its creative faade covered by wooden louvers. The faade covers the exterior of the building but also exposes its simple white wall that produces different colors at day and at night. With this project, the architect with the design firm of Design Group OZ won the Young Architect Award given by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism in 2008.
An outdoor spa at SooHwaRim, an upscale accommodation in Seosan, South Chungcheong Province (Kim Jae-kyung)
A room at Zeroplace, a newly built guesthouse in Seosan, South Chung-cheong Province (Jang Sung-yong)

The pension has an indoor bathtub and an outdoor Jacuzzi on the roof, offering a perfect getaway venue for families with kids or young couples. Room rates range from 200,000 to 260,000 won on weekends and 230,000 won to 290,000 won at peak seasons. For more information, visit or call (041) 688-5549.

Some 200 meters away from SooHwaRim, another architect-designed pension named Zerospace recently opened its doors to guests.

The new pension adopts the latest design trend ― vintage look.

“Like coffee shops lined up Garosugil in Sinsa-dong, Seoul, the pension is built to target young travelers looking for a trendy but comfortable place to rest,” said Lee Sang-mook, operator of the pension.

What makes this pension more special is an atelier-like cafe located on the first floor. Furnished with vintage objects designed by Kaare Klint and Furnigram, the cafe offers one a place to spend a perfect lazy afternoon with a cup of coffee and a book.

The pension with five rooms features open bathrooms, simple furniture and beds covered with crisp white linen, suggesting an unusual living experiences.

Room rates are 170,000-250,000 won on weekdays and 200,000-280,000 won on weekends. Visit, for more information.

Other suggestions

For those who want to spend a night at a uniquely designed pension in a mountainous area, try Pension Mori located in Hongcheon, Gangwon Province. Designed by architect Kim Hee-joon and now owned and operated by a young couple, the guesthouse has six separate units all built with wood. It has an outdoor swimming pool, perfect for families with young children in the summer time. Room rates range from 100,000 won to 140,000 won on weekends. For more information, visit or call (033) 435-0202.

You don’t need to drive more than two hours for an unforgettable weekend. Pension Viaggio built by an architect firm Moomoo, located in Yangpyeong, Gyeonggi Province, is just an hour’s drive from Seoul. Consisting of three separate buildings, the pension is covered with modern concrete walls. This simple features match its spacious garden and the small pond in the front. Room rates range from 130,000 won to 180,000 won.

Call (031) 775-8875 or visit, for more information.

By Cho Chung-un (