Airbnb has proposed a plan to add traditional Korean houses called “hanok” as a new category as the Korean wave, or K-wave, continues to sweep the globe.
Global Head of Housing Catherine Powell spoke to Yonhap News Agency (YNA) last week, revealing the company’s plan to add hanok to its “Airbnb Categories.” The move is similar to the online platform’s addition of ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn.
“We know that the Hanoks that we have on the platform are very popular. We can’t confirm yet, but would love it to be a category like how we did with ryokan,” Powell said.
Hanoks are traditional Korean houses built using environmentally friendly materials, such as wood for the pillars and frames and a mixture of dirt and straw for the walls. Hanok houses reportedly have excellent air circulation that is perfect for the summer, as well as a unique heating system with a layer of stone that, when heated, can warm several rooms during winter.
Airbnb’s recent plan came after it rolled out a major update on its platform in May with the introduction of “Airbnb Categories.” Airbnb added ryokan as one of the categories around this time.
The company also plans to push its efforts with the Korea Tourism Organization and South Korea Provincial governments to encourage hanok stays.
The country was a “bright light” for the company amid travel restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, Powell told YNA.
She noted that searches conducted by international guests on the platform for Korea rose by around 150% from the second quarter of 2021 to the second quarter of this year, while domestic travel and bookings saw an increase of over 180% from the second quarter of 2019 to the second quarter of this year.
Powell also noted that Airbnb saw an increase in Koreans signing up as hosts since the pandemic started.
“Between last year and this year we had seen a 40% increase in new hosts [in Korea]. And I think that number will grow this year with the cost of living and inflation. So we want them to be aware of hosting as an economic opportunity,” Powell said.
“I’m excited because there is so much opportunity here in South Korea,” Powell said later on during her interview with YNA. “They talk about the K-wave, and you can see how engaged people are with the culture. So we will continue to do more with pop culture and with traditional culture.”
Featured Image via Republic of Korea (CC BY-SA 2.0)