AWON is a Korean traditional mansion and museum in Oseong Village, which is located in a valley along Mt. Jongnam in Wanju, Jeonbuk. It is a cultural complex that was built after the 250-year-old Korean traditional mansion was transferred here from Jinju, Gyeongnam. President Hae Gap Jeon, who curated and oversaw the completion of this venue, first discovered this site at the age of 25. Its beauty mesmerized the young man, as Mt. Jongnam’s confidence and dignity stands tall as a gorgeous tree from afar amid the mysterious mist of the Oseong Reservoir. The old mansion was transferred here, and it led to today’s AWON. The Korean traditional mansion, which would neither surrender to nature nor dominate it, was the type of architecture which could appreciate nature as it is. His judgment was not wrong at all. AWON could boast of having the friendliest view where nature and human architecture create backgrounds for each other. The first place I visited in AWON was the museum. I stepped into the space, but I could still see the sky. There was shallow water waving beneath my feet. The sky outside the retractable roof was very blue, and its light made the space appear brighter. Presenting a modern sentiment with exposed concrete, this open space functions as a gallery or a concert hall for artists, and also as a café for visitors. After passing through the museum by long and narrow stairs, it directs to the outside. This path from the basement to the ground floor is also a gateway from the present to the past. When you stand at the end of the stairs, there is the AWON Mansion to the left, and a low hill of bamboo forest to the right.
AWON Mansion offers 11 guest rooms in four buildings: Cheonjiin, Sarangchae, Anchae, and Byeolchae. The first building is Cheonjiin, which is a modern-style, Korean traditional building nicknamed ‘Manhyudang,’ meaning ‘a place of shelter for an escape from everything.’ It is closest to Mt. Jongnam, and contains shadows of the sky in the calmly flowing pond in front. Sitting on the open platform of Manhyudang, the cool, fresh breeze from the mountains blows perspiration away. Past Manhyudang’s Soswaemun on the right is Yeonhadang, which was the space for traditional scholars. Meaning ‘a place of fog and dusk,’ Yeonhadang is a traditional house that moved here from Jinju and has still preserved its original structure. After take a turn around Yeonhadang and go deeper inside, there is Seolhwadang, the main house. Finally, the detached house that connected to the main house is still a modern building of exposed concrete in the same manner of the museum. It is an alternative to supplement the inconvenience of living in a Korean traditional house, built lower than the eaves of Seolhwadang and Yeonhadang, which does not disturb the entire view. A novelty has something fresh, yet something aged also has the depth and the philosophy of history. How gorgeous is the effort in blending the two in harmony? AWON was filled with delicate mood of such pursuit and passion.