Korean ‘Ondol’ or Chinese ‘Kang’ ?

March 19, 2014

By Jeong Ji-su

The government is pending on whether to apply for the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) status for “ondol,” a traditional floor-heating system.

The plan is arousing controversy among the Chinese public, claiming that they use the same technology called “kang,” according to South China Morning Post.

“Isn’t their ondol exactly the same as our kang in the northern region?” said one Chinese commentator on Sina Weibo microblog.

However, some commentators pointed out that while the two share the same technique in heating rooms beneath the floors, kang differs from ondol in that it refers to a specifically built part of the room, whereas ondol is for the entire floor of the room.

“In Korea, no matter which house you go to, there is ondol, but what about in China?” said one Korean blogger on Naver.

Meanwhile, the government plans to start the campaign next year, since it will provide enough time for the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA) to conduct research to decide whether ondol is worth of ICH.