In Korea, despite powerful technological advances, the influence of tradition is still strong. Koreans are revered for their history, art, and national dress. Like other peoples' outfits, Korean national costume has distinctive features that make it unlike any other. In past centuries, these clothes were worn all the time, on weekdays and holidays. Today, Koreans wear it on special occasions.
What is korean traditional clothing ?
The traditional clothing of South Korea is called hanbok and that of North Korea is called joseonot, but despite the different names, it is still the same costume with an ancient history. It is believed to have originated from the clothing of North Asian nomads. The very first variants of such a costume in the territory of Korea appeared before our era. That was when its main parts were invented - the shirt or jacket, pants or long skirt, which have remained practically unchanged even now. The modern hanbok is a direct descendant of the hanbok worn during the Joseon Dynasty, which existed for five centuries until the end of the 19th century.
Men's hanbok consisted of two main parts: the jogori shirt and the paji pants. Their design has changed little over time:
The jacket is loose, with rather wide sleeves and two ribbon ties;
Pants - baggy, with ties at the waist.
Korean Traditional Clothing : The Hanbok
Such clothes were worn by lowly citizens, they did not interfere with their work. The chogori was topped with a chokki jacket or a magoja jacket. These costume details are the most recent and appeared closer to the end of the 19th century. Joseon aristocrats wore a long (ankle-length) pyo coat, which was tied with a belt around the waist. The winter version was turumagi.
The distinctive feature of the men of the nobility was the black kat hat, wide-brimmed, translucent, fastened with two ribbons under the chin.
A woman's hanbok consisted of a short chogori tied on two ribbons at the chest and a wide, long skirt with a high waist, chhima. Underneath it, a petticoat was worn to make it look puffy. Women also wore a magoja or an embroidered, fur-trimmed vest over the chogori in winter.
A child's hanbok was called kkachkhi turumagi. It was a multicolored coat that children used to wear for the Korean New Year. Chogori was worn under it and a long cheongbok vest could be worn on top of it. In addition, children under a certain age wore special headdresses (pokkon for a boy and kullae for a girl).
Hanbok Style : The Different Types of Korean Traditional Clothing
Korean national women's costume is more popular - it is used for any festive occasion. The older the lady is, the more reasons she has to show off in the hanbok. Children are especially happy with the tradition of dressing up, they love to dress up on holidays.
Hollebock : Traditional Wedding Clothing
The participants of a korean wedding are not without elegant attire. The bride appears before the guests in a dress of whitish hues, but in the banquet hall the newlyweds go out in traditional attire. Usually the girl appears in a pink hanbok. The standard variant remains popular - red bottom and green top. Rarely, the hanbok of another color is preferred. Curiously, snow-white is not suitable - it is only allowed for the elderly or is associated with morning wear.
Tol Hanbok : Traditional Clothes for a Child's 1st Birthday
When a couple has a baby, they prepare a tol hanbok for its first birthday. The baby is given a cute costume and guests make wishes. When the child becomes an adult, he or she buys the national dress as a gift to his or her parents in honor of graduation or entering the workforce.
Myeongjeol Hanbok : Traditional Clothes of the New Year
At the beginning of the New Year, Koreans also show respect for their ancestors by making bows. Both generations wear myeongjeol hanbok (holiday costume).
Geumgwan Chobok & Dae : Traditional Clothing for Parents' Birthdays
Parents' anniversaries are also not without the national costumes of South Korea. When a man celebrates his 61st birthday, he wears Geumgwan chobok and a woman wears dae. The grown-up children are in charge of organizing the gala. This attire is also used at festivals and the harvest festival (Chuseok).
Modern Hanbok : A More Casual Version of the Traditional Clothing
The national costumes of today's koreans are similar to those worn by their ancestors, but they do not repeat them exactly, only in general details. They are stylized and modernized, using a variety of bright colors, shades, and different materials. Korean costumes are not worn every day, but they are gladly worn on holidays, solemn occasions, official receptions, anniversaries, festivals.
What does the Hanbok Symbolize according to its colors ?
In the past, the everyday Korean traditional costume worn by aristocratic men was white. It was made using light, high-quality fabric made from Chinese rami nettle. Holiday attire was colored and sewn from silk. The winter costume consisted of two layers of silk fabric or cotton. Ordinary people contented themselves with clothes made of hemp, at best cotton.
Silk was dyed in different colors, the fabric could be smooth or ornamented. Women's and children's garments were especially bright in color. Men preferred calmer colors. Ordinary Koreans wore suits of pale colored fabrics of gray, green, brown, and black. They were not allowed to wear white.
The colors of Korean national costume are symbolic and have meanings:
- White - purity of spirit;
- Red - wealth, prosperity;
- Blue - stability, constancy;
- Black - creation;
- Yellow - the center of the universe.
In addition to these basic colors, other colors were used in various details of clothing, they also had a certain meaning. The colors of children's costume also combined blue, white, red, black, and yellow. They signified east, west, south, north, and center, respectively.
Hanbok Accessories : Shoes, Hats and Hair Accessories
Jewelry is an important part of the hanbok characterized by simplicity of cut and lines. Women's skirts, contrasting cuffs and collars of jackets were usually decorated with embroidery with floral motifs. Great importance was attached to the korym ribbon and the art of tying it. The beauty of the costume was also determined by the rounded line of sleeves and collar of the jacket.
Norige pendants, which were fastened under the ribbon bow, were and still are popular among women's jewelry. It is an ornament made of intricately woven silk thread, with a tassel at the bottom, openwork inlays of metal or semi-precious stones.
Norige also had a functional meaning: since there were no pockets in the hanbok, small objects were previously attached to it, such as boxes with incense, bells, and hieroglyphs with wishes of happiness, wealth, harmony, and longevity.
Korean women did not use earrings, beads or bracelets but wore massive rings made of semi-precious stones such as jade. A well-known Korean piece of jewelry was the pinet pin that married women used to pin their hair at the nape of their necks. There is also another type of hairpin which was an ornament with figures of butterflies, flowers and birds attached to its ends on thin wires. They trembled at the slightest movement of the head. Unmarried girls wore a braid, into which they wove a ribbon of tengi, often red. Men's jewelry was much more modest, but no less interesting-silk pokchumoni purses and rings.
Korean costume was not complete without traditional footwear: katsin (silk shoes with floral patterns), tanhae (shoes embroidered with silk), and chinsin (leather shoes). White po-song socks were worn under all variants.
Where to Buy Korean Traditional Clothing ?
The korean traditional clothing is handmade and often custom made. This means that it is better to go to a store so that they can give you the best information and make you a 100% custom-made hanbok that will fit you perfectly. The problem is that custom clothing stores are already quite rare, so imagine finding a hanbok designer store...
If you are in Korea then you are lucky because you can buy your hanbok directly on the spot. But it may not be the case... And that's okay because there are now serious online stores such as Korean Street Fashion that have the experience and know-how to make hanboks without ever having met their customers. All you have to do is tell us the model you want, as well as your measurements and we will take care of everything. From the creation of the sketches, to the cutting, the sewing of the different elements and the shipping to your home.