Korean Language Blog

Ondol Posted by on Jul 14, 2010 in Culture


Ondol (온돌) is a term used to describe the traditional Korean way of heating the floor. The fire to heat the floor was made in an external fireplace called an 아궁이. The pipes used to transfer the heat from the fireplace to the floor were called 고래, and the external chimney (굴뚝) (pictured left) let out the fumes from the smoke.

You’ve probably heard that Koreans eat and sleep on the floor. That fact is hardly true anymore. Nowadays, most middle class Koreans sleep on a bed and eat their meals on a table. Because Koreans have adopted a Western lifestyle, the ondol is no longer used for heating. Before central heating, Koreans used to throw coal into the fireplace to heat the floors (pictured left).


Today, most Koreans prefer to live in an apartment because it’s considered more convenient. Some Koreans still sleep on a heated surface, but the heat comes from a 장판. A 장판 is a type of heated mat that turns on when you plug the cord in a socket.

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