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Hanbok: Korea’s Iconic Traditional Attire

article Nov 27, 2023
Hanbok(한복): Korea’s Iconic Traditional Attire

- Author: Good Job Korean team 
- Editor: Good Job Korean team 

👍 Contents (Click to navigate instantly)

History of 한복
Design and Colors
Component of 한복
Cultural Significance
Modern Day 한복
한복 Outside of Korea


 Are you a fan of Korean dramas or movies? If your answer is yes, you may have seen the characters donning the beautiful traditional clothing called 한복 (hanbok). 한복, one of the most significant cultures in Korea that stood the test of time, is a clothing that expresses the essence of its rich history, values, and aesthetics while preserving its grace and significance for generations. Hence, you would always see it whether in historical dramas or modern ones.

 In this blog post, let us explore the traditional attire as we learn about its history, design, and influence on Korean culture and fashion.


History of 한복

 As shown in historical dramas, 한복 has existed since the Joseon dynasty. Based on history, 한복 originated over 2,000 years ago, during the Three Kingdoms in ancient Korea. Although 한복 has evolved over the centuries with the rich Korean history heavily influencing the design, its essence remains a reflection of the firm culture in Korea.

Photo credit Elisa Goubeau

Design and Colors

 Despite all these years, the 한복 design has maintained its timeless charm. The traditional 한복 for women consists of the upper garment called 저고리 (jeogori) and a skirt called 치마 (chima). The wide flowing lines of the skirt and the elegantly cropped jacket create an appearance of graceful movement and harmony. Meanwhile, 한복 for men comprises 저고리 and pants 바지 (baji).


 한복 is famous for its vibrant colors, delicate embroidery, and intricate accessories. In the olden days, the commoners would don simple white 한복 without fancy ornaments as they reserved the ornate 한복 for special occasions such as weddings.


 With 한복 evolving throughout the years, Koreans began using various fabrics, each chosen for its texture, color, and season. For example, the expensive silk is often used for ceremonial 한복 while the more practical materials such as cotton and ramie made 한복 for daily use.


 The colors play a vital role as each shade symbolizes different aspects of Korean culture, from purity (white) to passion (red).


Components of 한복

 한복 for women consists of the 저고리 (top) and 치마 (skirt). This combination is known as 치마 저고리 (chima jeogori).

1. 저고리 (Jeogori)

 The 저고리 is the basic upper garment of the 한복, worn by both men and women, which covers the arms and upper part of the body. The basic form of the 저고리 consists of 길 (gil), 깃 (git), 동정 (dongjeong), 고름 (goreum) and 소매 (somae).

고름 - The strings that fasten the cloths together

소매 - The sleeves

동정 - A removable white collar placed over the end of 깃

깃 - A band of fabric that trims the collar

길 - The large section of the garment on both the front and back sides of the 저고리


2. 치마 (Chima)

 치마 refers to the skirt of 한복 for women, made by pleating the rectangular panels into the 치마말기 (waistband).

 On the other hand, 한복 for men consists of 저고리 and a pair of loose-fitting pants called 바지. 바지, directly translated as pants, refers to the bottom part of the 한복 for men. 바지 does not fit tightly as the roomy design makes the clothing ideal for sitting on the floor. This design is also an ethnic style that traces back to the Three Kingdoms.

도포 - Mostly worn by male Confucian scholars

방령 - It has a square-shaped neckline

답호 - The overcoat is short-sleeved

쾌자 - The overcoat is sleeveless

철 - A robe with pleats, mainly worn by men in military


Cultural Significance

 한복 remains a fundamental part of Korean culture as Koreans often wear this traditional attire during important ceremonies such as weddings, ancestral rites, and national holidays. In 1996, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism designated October 21st as Hanbok Day to encourage its citizens to wear the 한복 while promoting its tradition.


 For Koreans, 한복 is more than just an attire. 한복 is seen as an identity as it symbolizes the cultural pride of Korea.


Modern Day 한복

 Despite its existence for centuries, Koreans never perceived 한복 as an outdated attire. Today, 한복 is just as popular as it was years ago. In today’s fashion world, modern 한복 designers have begun creating stunning and versatile pieces of clothing inspired by the traditional 한복. The rich Korean history blends seamlessly with a contemporary fashion sensibility that caters to traditional ceremonies and everyday life. It is worth noting that the modern 한복 design usually takes after the 한복 worn in the Joseon dynasty, especially those worn by nobles and royals.


한복 Outside of Korea

 As the world becomes more interconnected, 한복 goes beyond its national border. With K-dramas and K-pop music gaining popularity internationally, there has been a rise in global interest in 한복. Fashion enthusiasts, influencers, and designers from various countries began incorporating 한복 elements into their wardrobes, creating modern fusion designs. Furthermore, there are festivals, exhibitions, and events worldwide promoting Korea’s culture where 한복 is introduced and displayed. This exchange shows it not just as an acknowledgment of its aesthetics but also as an attempt to foster cross-cultural understanding and appreciation.


 In conclusion, 한복 has been around for a very long time, and it has successfully withstood centuries of change. 한복 continues to amaze people of diverse backgrounds, serving as a link that bridges the past to the present while inviting the world to the rich history of Korean culture. Whether donned for a special occasion or cherished as a work of art, 한복 is an expression of love for tradition, balance, and timeless beauty.

- Author: Good Job Korean team 
- Editor: Good Job Korean team