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361. The New Era of Hanbok Has Begun

Jang, Su-jeong 기자2016.03.02 00:00:00

Hanbok is Korean traditional clothing which is commonly worn for ceremonial occasions or on national holidays such as Seollal[1] and Chuseok[2]. These days, we can see some young Koreans wearing Hanbok in the social media. Why do they dress up on a non-special day? Wearing Saenghwal Hanbok, the newly designed hanbok, is a new trend among young Koreans.

 

[What is Saenghwal Hanbok?]

Hanbok has a long history of more than 1,600 years, so there are many different types and forms of Hanbok. In fact, many Koreans consider the Hanbok which was worn during the Joseon Dynasty as the traditional and original one. There were some people who were interested in Korean culture in the late 1980s. They wanted to wear the Hanbok in daily life, so they modernized it into casual outfits. For instance, the traditional Hanbok for women generally consists of ajeogori with long and wide sleeves, and a chima that balloons out and hits the ankle, so it can be uncomfortable to wear. The new Hanbok has a shorter skirt and simpler shape. Since the early 1990s, the new Hanbok has been called different names such as Gaeryang Hanbok and Saenghwal Hanbok. In 1996, the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, which promotes the new Hanbok, officially declared it to be Saenghwal Hanbok, which means ‘Hanbok for daily life’ or ‘everyday Hanbok’. This is because Gaeryang means turning something bad into something good. The traditional Hanbok was reformed in order to make comfortable to wear in our daily lives, not because it was badly designed.

 

[Why Saenghwal Hanbok is the New Trend]

 In recent years, the demand for Saenghwal Hanbok has risen, especially among young people. What makes young people want to wear Saenghwal Hanboks? First, some designers including Hwang, Yi-seul have invented many beautiful and comfortable Saenghwal Hanboks. There is a variety of Hanboks, but their beauty can be expressed in two words: classical and stylish. It is good to wear Saenghwal Hanbok with any other item of clothing. It is loose-fitting, so wearing it does not bother you. Second, going traveling wearing Saenghwal Hanbok is a new trend among young people. They usually backpack abroad or go to the traditional folk villages such as Jeonju Hanok Village. They also upload pictures of themselves wearing it on social media. Third, anyone can get it easily, unlike the past. The number of online shopping malls for it has increased due to the growing demand among young people. The Hanbok has much strength, but it still has a long way to go before it is popularized.

 

[The Obvious Drawback to Promoting Saenghwal Hanbok]

 Although many Koreans love Hanbok, some matters still remain to be settled. The main drawback is its high cost. This can vary for each type; from 100,000 won to 200,000 won. If it is made of silk or other high-class fabric, it is more than 200,000 won. This is because mass production of Hanboks is nearly impossible; making it requires elaborate hand stitching techniques. In addition, there are a lot of stereotypes about the Hanbok. For example, many Koreans still think it is only for special occasions such as a wedding ceremony or for certain people who keep the tradition alive. They think it is strange to wear Hanbok in daily life, so people wearing a Hanbok can feel embarrassed by their attention. Conservative opinions on the Hanbok are also an impediment to development and variation in the Saenghwal Hanbok. One of these opinions is that the Saenghwal Hanbok can destroy tradition since the designers do not respect the traditional culture. This kind of prejudice can make designers hesitate to try something new. Furthermore, although many young Koreans want to wear them, many Hanboks for men are not appropriate in their daily lives. Many men say it is either too expensive or old-fashioned to wear. That is why young women wear a Hanbok more than men.

 

For Koreans, the Hanbok is a precious cultural heritage and a part of the national history. It has changed with the times, and the Saenghwal Hanbok has opened a new era of the Hanbok. A Challenge to the Saenghwal Hanbok is the deep interest and love for the Hanbok, not a destruction of tradition. We hope this trend will make a great contribution to popularizing Hanbok so that more people can wear it.

 


[1] Lunar New Year; January 1 of the lunar calendar

[2] Korean Thanksgiving Day; October 15 of the lunar calendar

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