Korea, China Squabble Over Underfloor Heating

Korea's plan to put traditional underfloor heating or ondol on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list has provoked anger from Chinese people who believe the technology originated in China.

The cultural heritage office in China's Shanxi Province said Korea's ondol is similar in principle to a home heating structure known as "kang" traditionally used in the chilly northeastern regions of China.

Chinese experts believe Koreans copied the technology.

Chinese media reported that Koreans are trying to lay claim to yet another Chinese invention, in addition to the board game baduk or Go, Asian herbal medicine and the Dano festival.

A Chinese kang or heated resting space in the home, pictured on the Baidu portal site. A Chinese kang or heated resting space in the home, pictured on the Baidu portal site.

Dano is a traditional Korean holiday on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month to pray for a good harvest. China was upset when Seoul in 2005 applied for the annual Dano festival in Gangneung, Gangwon Province to be given a UNESCO World Heritage listing.

Responding to calls by patriotic citizens to apply first for a UNESCO World Heritage listing to pre-empt Korea, China's Ministry of Culture said there are too many Chinese cultural assets that need to be protected and that there are no plans to seek the listing of the kang technology.

China has around 40 items on the UNESCO World Heritage list and Korea 10.

Korea claims that ondol is environmentally-friendly since it uses tree branches and charcoal instead of fossil fuels to heat.

englishnews@chosun.com / Mar. 19, 2014 10:12 KST