[KS] What is the history and use of charcoal in South Korea?

McCann, David dmccann at fas.harvard.edu
Fri Dec 9 18:34:32 EST 2011

Let us not forget the charcoal briquets, yônt'an, used for home room heating in the 1960's.  Extremely dangerous, as I discovered one night when the prevailing winds in Andong shifted and the gas came near killing me.  Many fatalities did occur in those years.

David McCann

On Dec 9, 2011, at 1:50 PM, <Afostercarter at aol.com<mailto:Afostercarter at aol.com>> <Afostercarter at aol.com<mailto:Afostercarter at aol.com>> wrote:

In case your interest in charcoal also extends north
of the DMZ, you may care to take a deep breath,
cover your mouth, hold your nose and contemplate
North Korea's surely unique (in 2011) contribution to
energy inefficiency, forest depletion, and air pollution
- three hits in one! - namely, charcoal-burning trucks:


They actually boast about this, as I noted some years ago:

A more academic account, with pictures, is at

Unbelievable but true, like much else about the DPRK.

Kind regards
Aidan FC

Aidan Foster-Carter
Honorary Senior Research Fellow in Sociology & Modern Korea, Leeds University, UK

E: afostercarter at aol.com<mailto:afostercarter at aol.com>     afostercarter at yahoo.com<mailto:afostercarter at yahoo.com>   W: www.aidanfc.net<http://www.aidanfc.net/>
W in Korea:  http://web.archive.org/web/20090202080126/http://aidanfc.net/index.html


In a message dated 12/9/2011 09:13:54 GMT Standard Time, i at knigel.com<mailto:i at knigel.com> writes:
Thank you all for helping me with finding out if the myth behind the
Tancheon (The Stream of Charcoal) was actual Korean folklore. I have,
unexpectedly, become obsessed with charcoal. I hadn't realised how
much charcoal was, and continues to be, used in Korean society. I've
been learning about the charcoal kiln saunas, "white charcoal',
charcoal air fresheners, and lumps of charcoal over gates to fend off
evil spirits from birthing women; however, I'm having a bit of trouble
finding out some of the other historic details in English about
charcoal. I'm wondering if any of the anthropologists, or anyone else,
could direct me to some history or folklore on charcoal in Korean
society. I'm interested in any tidbit or fascinating fact. I
appreciate your help a lot.


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