Here we are on our first post, dishing out some unique features about the famous Korean Traditional Costume
When we look for any culture in the world, the first things we look for are the cuisines and the traditional attires. And since it’s National Hanbok Day in South Korea, we will take a closer look at their ethnic costume, although their food is elegant and scintillating in equal amounts!
The hanbok has been turned into a global phenomenon, thanks to the Korean Drama industry and their many addictive Television Series that showcase their traditional costume often. To break it down for you understand, the woman’s hanbok consists of a blouse shirt called jeogori and a wrap-around a skirt called chima, which is made of a rectangular piece of fabric, pleated or gathered into a skirtband. There is also an underskirt or the petticoat called sokchima as an additional layer.
The man’s hanbok consists of jeogori too with loose-fitting pants called baji, which allows them to sit comfortably on the floor. Po or Pho is an outer robe or overcoat. Jokki is a type of vest while mogoja is an outer jacket, which is worn over the jeogori for warmth and style. The silhouette of jeogori has changed over time for women as the modern version is longer than its original counterpart yet somehow, still above the waistline.
Throughout the Korean history, people saw their attires socially divided: a type for the commoners and another for the nobility, so that the two classes would stand apart in public. The upper classes wore a range of colours, thanks to the variety of natural dyes extracted from flower petals. However, the commoners were required to wear white, but could also dress in shades of pale pink, light green, grey or charcoal on special occasions. The Korean social status could also be identified by the material used in the making of the hanbok. The upper classes had their hanbok made of various high grade lightweight materials in warmer months, and of silks throughout the remainder of the year. Commoners, on the other hand, were restricted to cotton only.
Symbolically the use of patterns and motifs embroidered on hanbok often represented the wishes of the wearer. Peonies on a wedding dress, symbolised a wish for honour and wealth. Lotus flowers showed a hope for nobility, and bats and pomegranates indicated the desire for children. Other motifs like dragons, phoenixes, cranes and tigers were only meant for royalty and high-ranking officials.
Fun Fact: Today, while it is known as Hanbok in South Korea, North Korea has adopted it as Chos Ain-ot instead.
KBS GLOBAL. (2019). Retrieved 18 October 2019, from https://web.archive.org/web/20080317124313/http://english.kbs.co.kr/korea/culture/clothing/ink_clt.html
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