Korean Hanbok: A Complete Guide to Everything You Need to Know!
Answers to all your questions about Hanbok!

Korean Hanbok: A Complete Guide to Everything You Need to Know!

Hanbok is Korean traditional clothing. It is often worn on special occasions such as weddings, Seollal (Korean New Year), and Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving). Hanbok has a long history and is deeply rooted in Korean culture.

Do you have questions about Korean hanbok? What is hanbok? How do men and women wear it? What are some of the most popular styles? Read on to learn more! In this article, we will answer some common questions foreigners have about hanbok.

Royal women's ceremonial clothes, 'wonsam'

We hope you enjoy learning about this unique aspect of Korean culture!


What is Hanbok?

Hanbok refers to the traditional clothing of the Korean people. Formally, it mainly refers to the costumes of the late Joseon Dynasty, but it refers to the costumes of all countries that existed on the Korean Peninsula, including the modern Republic of Korea or North Korea, from the Three Kingdoms of Korea period.

Hanbok has continuously changed by accepting elements from other countries and influencing other countries through interaction with the fashion of the times and cultural exchanges with other countries.

Currently, there are hanboks in real life called daily life hanbok, but in reality, hanbok is maintained as ceremonial clothes rather than everyday clothes. Of course, young designers and brands are taking on various challenges with the motif of hanbok and creating new types of hanbok.

 a girl in hanbok of white and pink

 

When did Koreans start wearing hanbok?

The origin of hanbok can be found in the clothes of the people of the Korean Peninsula during the Three Kingdoms period. However, the form of hanbok worn by modern Korean in the present era is that of the Joseon Dynasty.

 

The parts of Hanbok

The Hanbok consists of a top, 'Jeogori,' and a bottom, 'Chima,' and 'Baji.' There are men's vests and Magoja. Durumagi is a kind of coat and it's for women and men all. It is also often decorated with embroidery, beads, and other embellishments. 

Composition of women's hanbok: To put it simply, women's hanbok consists of 'jeogori', which is the upper part, and 'chima', which means skirt. The top, 'jeogori', is short than general tops, and the 'hanbok skirt' has a long shape that goes up to the upper body. And to get the pinnacle of this elegance, women wear shoes called Kkotsin after wearing Korean traditional socks, 'Beoseon'.

A pair of Kkotsin shoes  

 

Men's Hanbok Composition: Men's hanbok has a jeogori like women's, but it is longer than women's and goes down to the waist. Men wear wide trousers underneath. And men wears a hat called 'Gat', which was set on fire in the Netflix drama 'Kingdom'. It varies according to the shape and size of this hat, and it means many things such as status, occupation, and so on.

a Gat

 

 

Do Koreans wear Hanbok?

The everyday wear of modern Koreans is not hanbok. It was common to see citizens wearing hanbok going about the streets until the 1960s. However, as the popularity of clothing materials in modern western-style clothing spread and prices fell, hanbok gradually vanished from our daily routines starting in the 1980s.

 

When do Koreans wear hanbok?

Indeed, hanbok is no longer easily found in everyday life, but that does not mean that it has disappeared. Koreans continue to wear hanbok on several special occasions. It's popular to dress up for holidays like Seollal(Korean New Year) and Chuseok. Celebrities expose themselves wearing hanbok on TV shows.

Also, at Korean weddings, the bride and groom wear Western wedding attire, such as a tuxedo and wedding dress, but it is still customary for female families to buy a new hanbok and wear it. However, because they don't usually wear hanboks, the number of rental ones without purchasing them is growing.

 

Could foreigners try on Hanbok?

Of course, you could. Recently, as photos of tourists wearing hanbok at Gyeongbokgung went viral, many foreign tourists are renting hanbok from a rental shop near Gyeongbokgung and trying out the hanbok. If you wear hanbok, you can enter Gyeongbokgung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace, and Changgyeonggung Palace for free. However, there are recently rental shops that rent dresses that are not very hanbok-like, so be sure to rent a hanbok that consists of a jeogori and skirt or pants. You can also rent the Gonryongpo, the royal attire.

Tourists in hanbok walking through the palace

 

Can I buy hanbok?

Yes, you can buy hanbok from all over Korea if you want, and you can also buy it at online hanbok stores. In particular, if you want a proper hanbok, we recommend Korean specialty eCommerce stores other than Marketplaces like aliexpress.

Traditional hanbok is produced of high-quality materials, so they are costly even in Korea. So you can buy traditional hanbok in specialized stores. If the price seems too low, be wary.

Modern hanbok, which is produced more recently and has a modern design, is composed of the same materials as regular clothing and is simplified, thus the cost is reasonable.

 

Do modern hanboks exist?

Since the 1980s, when people started not to wear hanbok a lot, new hanboks have appeared under the name of 'daily life hanbok'. It started in 1984 when a hanbok designer announced an improved hanbok as a work.

Recently in Korea, new hanbok designs are being created by new brands and young designers. It has become a topic of discussion as many women wear it in their daily life and post photos on Instagram. And famous K-pop idols such as BTS and Black Pink wore hanbok in their music videos and stage performances, so the design became a hot topic not only in Korea but also abroad.

 

As the modern hanbok became a hot topic, organizations such as the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Hanbok Advancement Center, and the KOFICE started the 'Hanbok Digital Runway' project called HANBOK WAVE. An online shop is also included in the project, and the website features brands famous for their modern hanbok designs.

 

K-Pop stars in Hanbok on their MV?

Many K-pop stars wore hanbok on their stages and in music videos. The stage where BTS performed in hanbok in front of Gyeongbokgung for the Jimmy Fallon Show became a hot topic not only in Korea but also ARMYs around the world. The stage itself was beautiful, but it was because the hanbok that was improved for the stage was so cool.

 

Also, the minidress-style hanbok worn by Black Pink in the How You Like That music video became famous. Designer Kim Dan-ha, who designed the hanbok, became well-known as a result of Black Pink's minidress-style hanbok. She is now creating her new hanbok designs through her brand named DanHa, which bears her name.

 

Hanbok in Korean dramas

Many types of hanbok appear in Korean historical plays. This is because the form of hanbok varies greatly depending on the era. And depending on their occupation and status, various types of hanbok appear.

Dae Jang Geum is probably the most-watched historical drama in the world. The main character of the drama appears as a court lady who cooks for the king. You can get a glimpse of the various hanboks of many people who work in the palace and those outside the palace.

Actors in hanbok from a scene from the drama Dae Jang Geum.

 

There's also Kingdom, which became well-known not just for zombies but also for the term 'Gat'. The hat worn by Korean males is referred to as a Gat. You can observe more typical people's clothing outside the palace in that drama, as well as military uniforms. Furthermore, the hanbok blowing in the wind in this drama is so beautiful that it will make your heartbeat.

A scene from the drama Kingdom - Hanbok is blowing in the wind.

In conclusion, hanbok is a very important part of Korean culture. It is not only beautiful but also has a long history. I hope this article has helped you to understand hanbok better. Thank you for reading! :)

We hope you enjoyed this blog post! Please feel free to leave any questions or comments below. :)

Shin Chang-geun

I love Korea, I love people who love Korea. I want to talk to people who love Korea, share their passion for Korea, and give them the information they need.

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