The Korean Hanbok represents a fundamental part of Korea’s identity. For over a thousand years, it has been used as everyday attire.
Two weeks ago the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Korea celebrated the Hanbok Culture Week. This event, which is a nationwide culture festival was organized to promote the beauty of Korean traditional clothing. The first event was created in 2018 and since then the event is usually held in October in Korea this month a free exhibition called “Kpop x Handbook” was also organized in this exhibition. It was possible to see several sets of Korean traditional costumes that were created by local designers and worn by K-pop groups or artists including BTS.
But what is Hanbok ? What does it represent for Korean culture ? If you like watching Korean dramas, you probably saw them in a few historical dramas, such as the Moon that Embraces the Sun, Kingdom, or Moon Lovers : Scarlet Heart Ryeo. In Korean, Hanbok (한복) can be literally translated as Korean clothing.
This traditional clothing is usually composed of three main parts : the upper part which is a jacket with long sleeves is called Jeogori (저고리). Then traditionally for women, there will be a skirt which is called Chima (치마) in Korean and for men, it’s pants that is called Baji (바지) in Korean. Additionally, there will be a coat or a vest on the top. In the past, colors had a meaning : they were used to indicate social, class status or someone’s identity. For example, in the past, violet was emblematic of someone who belonged to an elevated rank or that was part of the royalty – of royal family and for them, it was allowed to have some decoration on their Hanbok, to have patterns and symbols. But for commoners, they were only allowed to wear white and also some pale colors for special occasions only.
Since 1996, there is a “Hanbok day” in Korea that is celebrated each year to encourage South Korean citizens to wear the Hanbok. And one important project that is also developed by the Culture Ministry is to introduce this traditional clothing into the everyday life of Korea. A growing number of schools have been selected to introduce the Hanbok as their students uniform. Now if you want to have the Hanbok experience in Korea, there are several places such as museums and palaces where it is possible to rent a Hanbok.