traditional korean clothing

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The term “hanbok” literally means “Korean clothing”. Hanbok can be traced back to the Three Kingdoms of Korea period (1th century BC ~ 7th century AD), with roots in the peoples of what is now northern Korea and Manchuria. Early forms of Hanbok can be seen in the art of Goguryeo tomb murals in the same period. One can be found in mural paintings dating from the 6th century. From this time, the basic structure of hanbok, namely the jeogori jacket, baji pants, and the chima skirt, were already established. Short, tight trousers and tight, waist-length jackets were worn by both men and women during the early years of the Three Kingdoms of Korea period. The basic structure and these basic design features of hanbok remain relatively unchanged to this day.

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Traditional Korean Clothing

The hanbok (in South Korea) or Chosŏn-ot (in North Korea) is the traditional two piece clothing worn in Korea for formal or semi-formal occasions and events such as festivalscelebrations, and ceremonies. It is characterized by its wrapped front top, long, high waisted skirt and its typically vibrant colours.

In the modern day, “hanbok” usually refers specifically to the clothing worn and developed during the Joseon dynasty period by the upper classes. During this time, the clothing of Korea’s rulers and aristocrats was influenced by both foreign and indigenous styles, resulting in many styles of clothing, such as the gwanbok worn by officials. Commoners wore only a style of indigenous clothing distinct from that of the upper classes.[1][2]

In 1996, the South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism established “Hanbok Day” to encourage South Korean citizens to wear the hanbok.[3]

Construction and design

A diagram of the hanbok‘s anatomy
1. hwajang
2. godae
3. somae buri
4. somae
5. goreum
6. u
7. doryeon
8, 11. jindong
9. gil
10. baerae
12. git
13. dongjeong

Traditionally, women’s hanbok consist of the jeogori (a blouse shirt or a jacket) and the chima (a full, wrap around skirt). The ensemble is often known as chima jeogori. Men’s hanbok consist of jeogori and loose fitting baji (trousers).[4]

Jeogori

Jeogori is the basic upper garment of the hanbok, worn by both men and women. It covers the arms and upper part of the wearer’s body.[5][6] The basic form of a jeogori consists of gilgitdongjeonggoreum and sleeves. Gil (Hangul: 길) is the large section of the garment on both front and back sides, and git (Hangul: 깃) is a band of fabric that trims the collar. Dongjeong (Hangul: 동정) is a removable white collar placed over the end of the git and is generally squared off. The goreum (Hangul: 고름) are coat-strings that tie the jeogori.[4] Women’s jeogori may have kkeutdong (Hangul: 끝동), a different colored cuff placed at the end of the sleeves. Two jeogori may be the earliest surviving archaeological finds of their kind. One from a Yangcheon Heo clan tomb is dated 1400–1450,[7] while the other was discovered inside a statue of the Buddha at Sangwonsa Temple (presumably left as an offering) that has been dated to the 1460s.[8]Jeogori and chima

The form of Jeogori has changed over time.[9] While men’s jeogori remained relatively unchanged, women’s jeogori dramatically shortened during the Joseon dynasty, reaching its shortest length at the late 19th century. However, due to reformation efforts and practical reasons, modern jeogori for women is longer than its earlier counterpart. Nonetheless the length is still above the waistline. Traditionally, goreum were short and narrow, however modern goreum are rather long and wide. There are several types of jeogori varying in fabric, sewing technique, and shape.[9][7]

Chima

Chima refers to “skirt,” which is also called sang () or gun () in hanja.[10][5][9] The underskirt, or petticoat layer, is called sokchima. According to ancient murals of Goguryeo and an earthen toy excavated from the neighborhood of Hwangnam-dongGyeongju, Goguryeo women wore a chima with jeogori over it, covering the belt.[11][12]

Although striped, patchwork, and gored skirts are known from the Goguryeo[5] and Joseon periods, chima were typically made from rectangular cloth that was pleated or gathered into a skirt band.[13] This waistband extended past the skirt fabric itself and formed ties for fastening the skirt around the body.[14]

Sokchima was largely made in a similar way to the overskirts until the early 20th century when straps were added,[15] later developing into a sleeveless bodice or ‘reformed’ petticoat.[16] By the mid-20th century, some outer chima had also gained a sleeveless bodice, which was then covered by the jeogori.[17][18]

Baji

Baji refers to the bottom part of the men’s hanbok. It is the formal term for ‘trousers’ in Korean. Compared to western style pants, it does not fit tightly. The roomy design is aimed at making the clothing ideal for sitting on the floor.[19] It functions as modern trousers do, but nowadays the term baji is commonly used in Korea for any kinds of pants. There is a band around the waistline of a baji for tying in order to fasten.

Baji can be unlined trousers, leather trousers, silk pants, or cotton pants, depending on style of dress, sewing method, embroidery and so on.

Po

Po or Pho is a generic term referring to an outer robe or overcoat, which was a common style from the Three Kingdoms of Korea period until the late Joseon period.[5][20] A belt was used until it was replaced by a ribbon during late Joseon dynasty. Durumagi is a variety of po that was worn as protection against cold. It had been widely worn as an outer robe over jeogori and baji. It is also called jumaguijuchaui, or juui.[10][5][21]

A different overcoat derived from Tang dynasty styles was adopted among the elites of Unified Silla and eventually evolved into Gwanbok.[20][need quotation to verify]

Jokki and magoja

Jokki (Korean: 조끼) is a type of vest, while magoja is an outer jacket. Although jokki and magoja were created at the end of the Joseon dynasty (1392–1897), directly after which Western culture began to affect Korea, the garments are considered traditional clothing. Each is additionally worn over jeogori for warmth and style. Magoja clothing was originally styled after the clothing of Manchu people, and was introduced to Korea after Heungseon Daewongun, the father of King Gojong, returned from his political exile in Tianjin in 1887.[21][22] Magoja were derived from the magwae he wore in exile because of the cold climate there. Due to its warmth and ease of wear, magoja became popular in Korea. It is also called “deot jeogori” (literally “an outer jeogori“) or magwae.[21]

Magoja does not have git, the band of fabric trimming the collar,[4] nor goreum (tying strings), unlike jeogori and durumagi (an overcoat). Magoja was originally a male garment but later became unisex. The magoja for men has seop (Korean: 섶, overlapped column on the front) and is longer than women’s magoja, so that both sides are open at the bottom. A magoja is made of silk and is adorned with one or two buttons which are usually made from amber. In men’s magoja, buttons are attached to the right side, as opposed to the left as in women’s magoja.[21]

At first,[when?] women wore the magoja for style rather than as a daily outfit, and especially kisaeng wore it often. It is made of silk, and the color for women tends to be a neutral color to harmonize with other garments such as jeogori and chima, which are worn together. In spring and autumn, pastels used in women’s magoja are matched with jeogori by color. Men’s magoja during spring and summer are jade, green, gray, dark grey.[21]

Children’s hanbok

Children’s hanbok

Traditionally, Kkachi durumagi (literally “a magpie’s overcoat”) were worn as seolbim (Hangul: 설빔), new clothing and shoes worn on Korean New Year, while at present, it is worn as a ceremonial garment for dol, the celebration for a baby’s first birthday.[23][24] It is a children’s colorful overcoat.[25] It was worn mostly by young boys.[26] The clothes is also called obangjang durumagi which means “an overcoat of five directions”.[23] It was worn over jeogori (a jacket) and jokki (a vest), while the wearer could put jeonbok (a long vest) over it. Kkachi durumagi was also worn along with headgear such as bokgeon (a peaked cloth hat),[27][28] hogeon (peaked cloth hat with a tiger pattern) for young boys or gulle (decorative headgear) for young girls.[5][need quotation to verify][29]

Occasions

Hwarot, bride clothes

Hanbok is classified according to its purposes: everyday dress, ceremonial dress, and special dress. Ceremonial dresses are worn on formal occasions, including a child’s first birthday, a wedding, or a funeral. Special dresses are made for shamans and officials.[19]

Hanbok was worn daily up until just 100 years ago, it was originally designed to facilitate ease of movement. But now, it is only worn on festive occasions or special anniversaries.[30] It is a formal dress and most Koreans keep a hanbok for special times in their life such as wedding, Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving), and Seollnal (Korean New Year’s), Children wear hanbok to celebrate their first birthday (Hangul: 돌잔치) etc. While the traditional hanbok was beautiful in its own right, the design has changed slowly over the generations. The core of hanbok is its graceful shape and vibrant colors, it is hard to think of hanbok as everyday wear but it is slowly being revolutionized through the changing of fabrics, colors and features, reflecting the desire of people.

Women’s Traditional Hanbok consist of jeogori, which is a shirt or a jacket, and chima dress, which is a wrap around skirt that is usually worn full. A man’s hanbok consists of jeorgori (jacket) and baggy pants that are called baji. Also there are additional clothing Po which is the outer coat, or robe, jokki which is a type of vest and magoja which is an outer jacket worn over jeogori for warmth and style.[31]

The color of hanbok symbolized social position and marital status. Bright colors, for example, were generally worn by children and girls, and muted hues by middle aged men and women. Unmarried women often wore yellow jeogori and red chima while matrons wore green and red, and women with sons donned navy. The upper classes wore a variety of colors. Contrastingly, commoners were required to wear white, but dressed in shades of pale pink, light green, gray and charcoal on special occasions.

Also, the status and position can be identified by the material of the hanbok. The upper classes dressed in hanbok of closely woven ramie cloth or other high grade lightweight materials in warmer months and of plain and patterned silks throughout the remainder of the year. Commoners, in contrast, were restricted to cotton. Patterns were embroidered on hanbok to represent the wishes of the wearer. Peonies on a wedding dress, represented a wish for honor and wealth. Lotus flowers symbolized a hope for nobility, and bats and pomegranates showed the desire for children. Dragons, phoenixes, cranes and tigers were only for royalty and high-ranking officials.[32]

traditional korean clothing history

Antiquity

The hanbok can be traced back to the Three Kingdoms of Korea period,[33][34][35][36] with roots in the peoples of what is now northern Korea and Manchuria.[37][38] Early forms of Hanbok can be seen in the art of Goguryeo tomb murals in the same period.[36][37][38][39] The earliest ones can be found in mural paintings dating from the 6th century.[40] From this time, the basic structure of hanbok, namely the jeogori jacket, baji pants, and the chima skirt, were already established. Short, tight trousers and tight, waist-length jackets were worn by both men and women during the early years of the Three Kingdoms of Korea period. The basic structure and these basic design features of hanbok remain relatively unchanged to this day.[41]

  • 7th-century Chinese Tang dynasty painting of envoys from the Three Kingdoms of Korea: Baekje, Goguryeo, and Silla
  • A Goguryeo man in a hunting attire from Capital Cities and Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom
  • Goguryeo king’s and queen’s attire
  • Silla king’s and queen’s attire
  • Gold waist belt used by royalty of Silla
  • A woman’s attire during the Goryeo dynasty
  • Portrait of Lady Joban of the Goryeo dynasty
  • Portrait of Yi Je-hyeon of the Goryeo dynasty

North-South States period and Goryeo dynasty

As Silla unified the Three Kingdoms, various silks, linens, and fashions were imported from Tang China and Persia. In the process, the latest fashions trend of Luoyang, the second capital of Tang, were also introduced to Korea, where it became a uniquely Korean silhouette similar to the Western Empire silhouette. After the Korean unification by the Silla, Korean women of the aristocrat class started wearing the new style, popular not only in China but in all countries influenced by the Silk Road. The style, however, did not affect hanbok still used by the commoners, and its use faded during the Goryeo period, the next ruling state of Korea, and the use of hanbok was revived in the aristocrat class.[11][12]

King Muyeol of Silla personally travelled to the Tang dynasty to voluntarily request for clothes and belts; it is however difficult to determine which specific form and type of clothing was bestowed although Silla requested the bokdu (幞頭; a form of hempen hood during this period), danryunpo (團領袍; round collar gown), banbi, baedang (䘯襠), and pyo (褾).[42] Based on archeological findings, it is assumed that the clothing which was brought back during Queen Jindeok rule are danryunpo and bokdu.[42] The bokdu also become part of the official dress code of royal aristocrats, court musicians, servants, and slaves during the reign of Queen Jindeok; it continued to be used throughout the Goryeo dynasty.[43] In 664 AD, Munmu of Silla decreed that the costume of the queen should resemble the costume of the Tang dynasty; and thus, women’s costume also accepted the costume culture of the Tang dynasty.[42] Women also sought to imitate the clothing of the Tang dynasty through the adoption of shoulder straps attached to their skirts and wore the skirts over the jeogori.[42][44] However, due to the extravagance of the clothing culture of the Tang dynasty, King Heundeog enforced clothing prohibition during the year 834 AD.[42]

The Wonsam was also adopted from China and is believed to have been one of the costumes from the Tang dynasty which was bestowed in the Unified Three Kingdoms period; the Wonsam eventually became part of the national customs.[45]

Balhae imported a lot of various kind of silk and cotton cloth from the Tang and diverse items from Japan including silk products and ramie. In exchange, Balhae would export fur and leather. The clothing culture of Balhae were heterogeneous; it was not only influenced by the Tang dynasty but also had inherited Goguryeo and indigenous Mohe people elements.[46] Early Balhae officials wore clothing appeared to continued the Three Kingdoms period tradition.[46] However, after Mun of Balhae, Balhae started to incorporate elements from the Tang dynasty, which include the putou and round collared gown for its official attire.[46] Male everyday clothing was similar to Gogoryeo clothing in terms of its headgear; i.e. hemp or conical hats with bird feathers; they also wore leather shoes and belts.[46] Women clothing appears to have adopted clothing from Tang dynasty (i.e. upper garment with long sleeves which is partially covered by a long skirts and shoes with curled tips to facilitate walking) but also wore the ungyeon (Yunjuan; a silk shawl) which started to appear after the demise of the Tang dynasty. The Ungyeon use is unique to late Balhae period and is distinctive from the shawl which was worn by the women of the Tang dynasty.[46] People from Balhae also wore fish-skin skirts and sea leopard leather top to keep warm.[46]

In the North-South States Period (698–926 AD), Silla and Balhae adopted dallyeong, a circular-collar robe from the Tang dynasty of China.[47][48] In Silla, the dallyeong was introduced by Muyeol of Silla in the second year of queen Jindeok of Silla.[45][42] The dallyeon style from China was used as gwanbok, a formal attire for government officials, grooms, and dragon robe, a formal attire for royalty until the end of Joseon.[49]

  • Dragon robe (or ikseongwanpo): business attire for king
  • Hongryongpo: everyday clothes for king
  • Hwangryongpo: everyday clothes for emperor styled after the Chinese imperial robe. Gojong began to wear the yellow robe once restricted only to the Chinese emperors.
  • Tongcheongwan and Gangsapo

Hanbok went through significant changes under Mongol rule. After the Goryeo Dynasty (918–1392) signed a peace treaty with the Mongol Empire in the 13th century, Mongolian princesses who married into the Korean royal house brought with them Mongolian fashion which began to prevail in both formal and private life.[42][50][51][52] A total of seven women from the Yuan imperial family were married to the Kings of Goryeo.[53] The Yuan dynasty princess followed the Mongol lifestyle who was instructed to not abandon the Yuan traditions in regards to clothings and precedents.[42] As a consequence, the clothing of Yuan was worn in the Goryeo court and impacted the clothing worn by the upper class families who visited the Goryeo court.[42] The Yuan clothing culture which influenced the upper classes and in some extent the general public is called Mongolpung.[53] King Chungryeol, who was political hostage to the Yuan dynasty and pro-Yuan, married the princess of Yuan announcing a royal edict to change into Mongol clothing.[42] The clothing which was adopted from Yuan was the lip (which had a special form during the Yuan dynasty compared to the ones worn during the ancient times), gaechebyunhal, and chupri.[42] The official military and civilian clothing also changed to the Yuan dynasty costume.[44] Wearing dae (girdle) which was used to indicate social rank was replaced by the Chinese system of distinguishing social ranks through attire and head gears.[44] Common people continued the practice of dae until the length of the jeogori was shortened.[44] After the fall of the Yuan dynasty, only Mongol clothing which were beneficial and suitable to Goryeo culture were maintained while the others disappeared.[42] As a result of the Mongol influence, the chima skirt was shortened, and jeogori was hiked up above the waist and tied at the chest with a long, wide ribbon, the goruem (instead of being belted) and the sleeves were curved slightly.

The cultural exchange was also bilateral and Goryeo had significant cultural influence on the Mongols court of the Yuan dynasty (1279–1368); one example is the influence of Goryeo women’s hanbok on the attire of aristocrats, queens, and concubines of the Mongol court which occurred in the capital city, Dadu.[54][55][56] However, this influence on the Mongol court clothing mainly occurred in the last years of the Yuan dynasty.[57][53] Throughout the Yuan dynasty, many people from Goryeo were forced to move into the Yuan; most of them were kongnyo (literally translated as “tribute women”), eunuchs, and war prisoners.[53][58] About 2000 women from Goryeo were sent to Yuan as kongnyo against their will.[53] Although women from Goryeo were considered very beautiful and good servants, most of them lived in unfortunate situations, marked by hard labour and sexual abuse.[53] However, this fate was not reserved to all of them; and one Goryeo woman became the last Empress of the Yuan dynasty; this was Empress Gi who was elevated as empress in 1365.[53] Most of the cultural influence that Goryeo exerted on the upper class of the Yuan dynasty occurred when Empress Gi came into power as empress and started to recruit many Goryeo women as court maids.[53] The influence of Goryeo on the Mongol court’s clothing during the Yuan dynasty was dubbed as Goryeoyang (“the Goryeo style”) and was rhapsodized by the Late Yuan dynasty poet, Zhang Xu.[53] According to Korean scholars, the division of dress into skirts and tops system which appeared in the later years of the Yuan dynasty has been the influence of Goryeo’s style as in the earlier years of the Yuan dynasty, Mongol women wore a one-piece robe.[53] It was also hypothesized that the Goryeoyang styles of clothing in the late Yuan dynasty could be found in the court dress in the form of a short banryong (方領; a square collared) banbi (半臂; a sleeveless or short sleeved outer-garment) which reached the waist based on an old poem, which says “方領過腰半臂”.[53][59] There are some speculations on the possibility that the Goryeoyang may have continued to influence some Chinese during the Ming dynasty after the fall of the Yuan dynasty; however, this topic needs to be investigated further.[60]

Joseon dynasty

After the Goryeo dynasty was overthrown by Taejo of Joseon, Buddhism was replaced by Neo-Confucianism which impacted the Hanbok of the Joseon dynasty.[44][61] Examples of Neo-Confucianism influence on attire is the use of wearing wraparound and full-pleated chima and longer jeogori in the 15th century, and the use of multiple layers as a way to never reveal skin.[44] Early Joseon continued the women’s fashion for baggy, loose clothing, such as those seen on the mural from the tomb of Bak Ik (1332–1398).[62] However, by the 16th century, the jeogori had shortened to the waist and appears to have become closer fitting, although not to the extremes of the bell-shaped silhouette of the 18th and 19th centuries.[63][64][65]

Due to the influence of Neo-Confucianism, it was compulsory for women throughout the entire society to wear headdresses (nae-oe-seugae) to avoid exposing their faces when going outside; those headdresses may include suegaechima, the jangot, and the neoul (which was only permitted for court ladies and noblewomen).[61] The neoul covered the entire body and is directly originated from the mong-su, a headdress worn during Goryeo dynasty (918-1392 AD) which is presumed to have originated from the headdress used during the Tang dynasty (618-907 AD).[61] The suegaechima was a headdress which looked like the chima but had a narrower and shorter style to it; it was only used by the upper class women in the mid Joseon dynasty; it was however used by all classes of people in the late Joseon dynasty.[61] The jangot was mostly worn by the commoners; it was previously one of the most representative women’s overcoat until the 17th century before turning into a headdress by the mid of the 18th century to conceal face and upper bodies when walking in public.[61] In Joseon, hats was an essential part formal dress and the development of official hats became even more pronounced during this era due to the emphasis of Confucian values.[43] A hat called gat was considered an essential aspect in a man’s life; however, to replace the gat in more informal setting, such as their residences, and to feel more comfortable, Joseon-era aristocrats also adopted a lot hats which were introduced from China, such as the banggwan, sabanggwan, dongpagwan, waryonggwan, jeongjagwan.[43] The popularity of those Chinese hats may have partially been due to the promulgation of Confucianism and because they were used by literary figures and scholars in China.[43]

The Joseon official dresses, Jeokui, which were worn by Joseon queens and princesses was adopted from the Ming dynasty’s diyi.[44] The hwalot, which became the traditional Korean bridal costume in Joseon dynasty, is also speculated to have been derived from Chinese-style clothing; its earliest influence may be from from ceremonial clothing and upper class clothing of the Tang dynasty; however, the hwalot may also be linked to the Goryeo queens’ big red coat which was not allowed to be worn by commoners.[66] The changbaeja, a joseon dynasty coat, is also believed have been influenced by Ming dynasty clothing.[66]

A skirt called maweiqun (马尾裙; literally translated as “horse-hair skirts”) produced in Korea was a popular male fashion for Ming dynasty men in BeijingChina towards the end of the Chenghua period (1465-1487 AD).[67][68] When the maweiqun first appeared, the craft of weaving horse-hair was rare in china; however, by the late 15th century, Ming dynasty local weavers ended up mastering the skills and started to steal the tail of horses from metropolitan officials in order to get the materials needed to make the skirts.[67] At that time, the Ming Dynasty banned the “horse-hair skirt”. Of note, the maweiqun (马尾裙; “horse-hair skirt”) should not to be confused with another type of women’s skirt called mamianqun (马面裙; “horse-face skirt”).

Today’s hanbok is the direct descendant of hanbok worn in the Joseon period, specifically the late 19th century. Hanbok had gone through various changes and fashion fads during the five hundred years under the reigns of Joseon kings and eventually evolved to what we now mostly consider typical hanbok.

Everyday wear

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During the Joseon dynasty, the chima or skirt adopted fuller volume, while the jeogori or blouse took more tightened and shortened form, features quite distinct from the hanbok of previous centuries, when chima was rather slim and jeogori baggy and long, reaching well below waist level. After the Japanese invasions of Korea (1592–98) or Imjin War, economic hardship on the peninsula may have influenced the closer-fitting styles that use less fabric.[65]

In the 16th century, women’s jeogori was long, wide, and covered the waist.[69] The length of women’s jeogori gradually shortened: it was approximately 65 cm in the 16th century, 55 cm in the 17th century, 45 cm in the 18th century, and 28 cm in the 19th century, with some as short as 14.5 cm.[69] A heoritti (허리띠) or jorinmal (졸잇말) was worn to cover the breasts.[69] The trend of wearing a short jeogori with a heoritti was started by the gisaeng and soon spread to women of the upper class.[69] Among women of the common and lowborn classes, a practice emerged in which they revealed their breasts by removing a cloth to make breastfeeding more convenient.[70]

During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the fullness of the skirt was concentrated around the hips, thus forming a silhouette similar to Western bustles. The fullness of the skirt reached its extreme around 1800. During the 19th century fullness of the skirt was achieved around the knees and ankles thus giving chima a triangular or an A-shaped silhouette, which is still the preferred style to this day. Many undergarments such as darisokgot, soksokgot, dansokgot, and gojengi were worn underneath to achieve desired forms.

A clothes reformation movement aimed at lengthening jeogori experienced wide success in the early 20th century and has continued to influence the shaping of modern hanbok. Modern jeogori are longer, although still halfway between the waistline and the breasts. Heoritti are sometimes exposed for aesthetic reasons. At the end of the 19th century, as mentioned above, Heungseon Daewongun introduced magoja, a Manchu-style jacket, which is often worn over jeogori to this day.

  • Women’s hanbok consists of chima skirt and jeogori shirt.
  • Full skirt and tight jeogori were considered fashionable. 18th century.
  • A rare painting of yangban women. Yangban ladies were sensitive to “fashion fads” which worried Seonbi scholars. 18th century.
  • Soksokgot, similar to a petticoat, is shown under the woman’s skirt. 18th century.
  • Dancing together with two swords

Male aristocrat dress: a gat (a horsehair hat) on the head and yellow dopo (overcoat)

Men’s hanbok saw little change compared to women’s hanbok. The form and design of jeogori and baji hardly changed.

In contrast, men’s lengthy outwear, the equivalent of the modern overcoat, underwent a dramatic change. Before the late 19th century, yangban men almost always wore jungchimak when traveling. Jungchimak had very lengthy sleeves, and its lower part had splits on both sides and occasionally on the back so as to create a fluttering effect in motion. To some this was fashionable, but to others, namely stoic scholars, it was nothing but pure vanity. Daewon-gun successfully banned jungchimak as a part of his clothes reformation program and jungchimak eventually disappeared.

Durumagi, which was previously worn underneath jungchimak and was basically a house dress, replaced jungchimak as the formal outwear for yangban men. Durumagi differs from its predecessor in that it has tighter sleeves and does not have splits on either sides or back. It is also slightly shorter in length. Men’s hanbok has remained relatively the same since the adoption of durumagi.

  • A man wearing jungchimak. 18th century.
  • The “fluttering” effect. 18th century.
  • Waryonggwan and hakchangui in 1863
  • Photograph taken in 1863
  • Photograph taken in 1863
  • Bokgeon and simui in 1880
  • Black bokgeon and blue dopo in 1880
  • Jeongjagwan on the head
  • A Korean in mourning clothes
  • Korean men, 1871
  • Young Korean man of the middle class, 1904
  • Korean mother and daughter, 1910–1920

Material and color

Heuk dallyeongpo in the late 18th century

The upper classes wore hanbok of closely woven ramie cloth or other high-grade lightweight materials in warm weather and of plain and patterned silks the rest of the year. Commoners were restricted by law as well as resources to cotton at best.

The upper classes wore a variety of colors, though bright colors were generally worn by children and girls and subdued colors by middle-aged men and women. Commoners were restricted by law to everyday clothes of white, but for special occasions they wore dull shades of pale pink, light green, gray, and charcoal. The color of chima showed the wearer’s social position and statement. For example, a navy color indicated that a woman had son(s). Only the royal family could wear clothing with geumbak-printed patterns (gold leaf) on the bottom of the chima.

Headdresses

A woman wearing a wig, or gache

Both male and female wore their hair in a long braid until they were married, at which time the hair was knotted; man’s hair was knotted in a topknot called sangtu (상투) on the top of the head, and the woman’s hair was rolled into a ball shaped form or komeori and was set just above the nape of the neck.

A long pin, or binyeo (비녀), was worn in women’s knotted hair as both a fastener and a decoration. The material and length of the binyeo varied according to the wearer’s class and status. And also wore a ribbon or daenggi (댕기) to tie and to decorate braided hair. Women wore a jokduri on their wedding day and wore an ayam for protection from the cold. Men wore a gat, which varied according to class and status.

Before the 19th century, women of high social backgrounds and gisaeng wore wigs (gache). Like their Western counterparts, Koreans considered bigger and heavier wigs to be more desirable and aesthetic. Such was the women’s frenzy for the gache that in 1788 King Jeongjo banned by royal decree the use of gache, as they were deemed contrary to the Korean Confucian values of reserve and restraint.[71]

In the 19th century yangban women began to wear jokduri, a small hat that replaced gache. However gache enjoyed vast popularity in kisaeng circles well into the end of the century.

Later development

Beginning in the late 19th century, hanbok was largely replaced by new Western imports like the Western suit and dress. Today, formal and casual wear are usually based on Western styles. However, hanbok is still worn for traditional occasions, and is reserved for celebrations like weddings, the Lunar New Year, annual ancestral rites, or the birth of a child.

Social status

Especially from the Goryeo Dynasty, the hanbok started to determine differences in social status through the many types and components,[72] and their characteristics[73] – from people with the highest social status (kings), to those of the lowest social status (slaves).[72] Although the modern Hanbok does not express a person’s status or social position, Hanbok was an important element of distinguishment especially in the Goryeo and Joseon Dynasties.[73]

Clothes

Hwarot

Hwarot or Hwal-Ot (Hangul: 활옷) was the full dress for a princess and the daughter of a king by a concubine, formal dress for the upper class, and bridal wear for ordinary women during the Goryeo and Joseon dynasties.[74] Popular embroidered patterns on Hwal-Ot were lotusesphoenixes, butterflies, and the ten traditional symbols of longevity: the sun; mountains; water; clouds; rocks/stone; pine trees; the mushroom of immortality; turtles; white cranes, and deer.[75] Each pattern represented a different role within society, for example: a dragon represented an emperor a phoenix represented a queen; floral patterns represented a princess and a king’s daughter by a concubine, and clouds and cranes represented high ranking court officials.[74] All these patterns throughout Korean history had meanings of longevity, good luck, wealth and honor.[74] Hwal-Ot also had blue, red, and yellow colored stripes in each sleeve – a woman usually wore a scarlet-colored skirt and yellow or green-colored Jeogori, a traditional Korean jacket.[74] Hwal-Ot was worn over the Jeogori and skirt.[74] A woman also wore her hair in a bun, with an ornamental hairpin and a ceremonial coronet.[74] A long ribbon was attached to the ornamental hairpin, the hairpin is known as Yongjam (용잠).[74] In more recent times, people wear Hwal-Ot on their wedding day, and so the Korean tradition survives in the present day.[74]

Wonsam

Wonsam (Hangul: 원삼) was a ceremonial overcoat for a married woman in the Joseon dynasty.[76] It was mostly worn by royalty, high-ranking court ladies, and noblewomen and the colors and patterns represented the various elements of the Korean class system.[76] The empress wore yellow; the queen wore red; the crown princess wore a purple-red color; meanwhile a princess, a king’s daughter by a concubine, and a woman of a noble family or lower wore green.[76] All the upper social ranks usually had two colored stripes in each sleeve: yellow-colored Wonsam usually had red and blue colored stripes, red-colored Wonsam had blue and yellow stripes, and green-colored Wonsam had red and yellow stripes.[76] Lower-class women wore many accompanying colored stripes and ribbons, but all women usually completed their outfit with Onhye or Danghye, traditional Korean shoes.[76]

Dangui

Dangui or Tangwi (Hangul: 당의) were minor ceremonial robes for the queen, a princess, or wife of a high ranking government official while it was worn during major ceremonies among the noble class in the Joseon dynasty.[75] The materials used to make “Dang-Ui” varied depending on the season, so upper-class women wore thick Dang-Ui in winter while they wore thinner layers in summer.[77] Dang-Ui came in many colors, but yellow and/or green were most common. However the emperor wore purple Dang-Ui, and the queen wore red.[77] In the Joseon dynasty, ordinary women wore Dang-Ui as part of their wedding dress.[77]

Myeonbok and Jeokui

Myeonbok

Myeonbok (Hangul: 면복) were the king’s religious and formal ceremonial robes while Jeokui were the queen’s equivalent during the Goryeo and Joseon dynasties.[78] Myeonbok was composed of Myeonryu-Gwan (Hangul: 면류관) and Gujang-bok (Hangul: 구장복).[78] Myonryu-Gwan had beads, which hung loose; these would prevent the king from seeing wickedness.[78] There were also wads of cotton in the left and right sides of Myeonryu-Gwan, and these were supposed to make the king oblivious to the influence of corrupt officials. Gujang-bok was black, and it bore nine symbols, which all represented the king.[78]

Nine symbols
  1. Dragon:A dragon’s appearance paralleled how the king governed and subsequently brought balance to the world.[78]
  2. Fire: The king was expected to be intelligent and wise to govern the people effectively, like a guiding light represented by the fire.[78]
  3. Pheasant: The image of a pheasant represented magnificence.[78]
  4. Mountain: As a mountain is high, the king was on a par in terms of status and was deserving of respect and worship.[78]
  5. Tiger: A tiger represented the king’s courage.[78]
  6. Monkey: A monkey symbolized wisdom.[78]
  7. Rice: As the people needed rice to live, the king was compared to this foodstuff as he had the responsibility of protecting their welfare.[78]
  8. Axe: This indicated that the king had the ability to save and take lives.[78]
  9. Water plant: Another depiction of the king’s magnificence.[78]
Jeokui

Jeokui or Tseogwi (Hangul: 적의) was arranged through the use of different colors as a status symbol within the royal family.[79] The empress wore purple-red colored Jeokui, the queen wore pink, and the crown princess wore deep blue.[79] “Jeok” means pheasant, and so Jeokui often had depictions of pheasants embroidered onto it.[79]

Cheolick

Cheolick (Hangul: 철릭) was a Korean adaptation of the Mongol tunic, imported in the late 1200s during the Goryeo dynasty. Cheolique, unlike other forms of Korean clothing, is an amalgamation of a blouse with a kilt into a single item of clothing. The flexibility of the clothing allowed easy horsemanship and archery. During the Joseon dynasty, they continued to be worn by the king, and military officials for such activities.[80] It was usually worn as a military uniform, but by the end of the Joseon dynasty, it had begun to be worn in more casual situations.[81] A unique characteristic allowed the detachment of the Cheolique’s sleeves which could be used as a bandage if the wearer was injured in combat.[81]

Ayngsam

Ayngsam (Hangul: 앵삼) was the formal clothing for students during the national government exam and governmental ceremonies.[82] It was typically yellow, but for the student who scored the highest in the exam, they were rewarded with the ability to wear green Aengsam.[82] If the highest-scoring student was young, the king awarded him with red-colored Aengsam.[82]

Accessories

Binyeo

Binyeo or Pinyeo (Hangul: 비녀) was a traditional ornamental hairpin, and it had a different-shaped tip again depending on social status.[83] Women in the royal family had dragon or phoenix-shaped Binyeo while ordinary women had trees or Japanese apricot flowers.[84] And Binyeo was a proof of marriage. Therefore, to a woman, Binyeo was an expression of chastity and decency.[85]

Daenggi

Daenggi is a traditional Korean ribbon made of cloth to tie and to decorate braided hair.

Norigae

Norigae (Hangul: 노리개) was a typical traditional accessory for women, and there were no differences determined by social status.[86][disputed – discuss]

Danghye

Danghye or Tanghye(Hangul: 당혜) were shoes for married women in the Joseon dynasty.[87] Danghye were decorated with trees bearing grapes, pomegranateschrysanthemums, or peonies: these were symbols of longevity.[88]

Kunghye

Danghye for a woman in the royal family were known as Kunghye (Hangul: 궁혜), and they were usually patterned with flowers.[88]

Onhye

Danghye for an ordinary woman were known as Onhye (Hangul: 온혜).[88]

Modern times

Although hanbok is a traditional costume, it has been re-popularized in modern fashion.[89] Contemporary brands, such as the Modern Hanbok of the “Korean in Me”[90] and Kim MeHee,[91] have incorporated traditional designs in their upscale modern clothes. Modern hanbok has been featured in international haute couture; on the catwalk, in 2015 when Karl Lagerfield dressed Korean models for Chanel, and during Paris Fashion Week in photography by Phil Oh.[92] It has also been worn by international celebrities, such as Britney Spears and Jessica Alba, and athletes, such as tennis player Venus Williams and football player Hines Ward.[93]

Hanbok is also popular among Asian-American celebrities, such as Lisa Ling and Miss Asia 2014, Eriko Lee Katayama.[94] It has also made appearances on the red carpet, and was worn by Sandra Oh at the SAG Awards, and by Sandra Oh’s mother who made fashion history in 2018 for wearing a hanbok to the Emmy Awards.[95]

The South Korean government has supported the resurgence of interest in hanbok by sponsoring fashion designers.[96] Domestically, hanbok has become trendy in street fashion and music videos. It has been worn by the prominent K-pop artists like Blackpink and BTS, notably in their music videos for “How You Like That” and “Idol.”[97][98] As the hanbok continues to modernize, opinions are divided on the redesigns.[99]

In Seoul, a tourist’s wearing of hanbok makes their visit to the Five Grand Palaces (Changdeokgung, Changgyeonggung, Deoksugung, Gyeongbokgung and Gyeonghuigung) free of charge.

See also

Footnotes

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References

External links

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