Korean Sociological Image #45: Modernizing Traditional Korean Clothes


For all my love of Korean culture, I’ve never really understood the appeal of modern hanbok (한복).

Primarily, because of their impracticality: after performing the ancestor worship rites known as cha-ryae (차례) in mine at my parents-in-laws’ house on various Korean holidays for instance, I find it very difficult to eat the traditional breakfasts that follow with such baggy sleeves getting in the way, especially at the low tables that most Koreans use. It also has no pockets, no zipper, and can get uncomfortably hot very easily, especially during Chuseok (추석) when the weather can still be quite warm. And my wife has similar problems with hers too, adding that women also seem to find their slightly more elaborate version more uncomfortable than men do theirs.

For those reasons, I fully expected the Wikipedia article on hanbok to mention that despite popular perceptions, only the small elite known as the yangban (양반) ever really wore them historically, who were notorious for being resolutely opposed to performing anything that smacked of physical labor. Was Koreans’ pride in their “national dress” a little misplaced then, and just another invented tradition like the kilt in Scotland?

Alas, it doesn’t say, although it does seem reasonable to suppose that practical considerations were undoubtedly more important for the bulk of the population. But what the article does demonstrate though, is that the hanbok has as rich and varied a history as, say, the Western suit (it was naive of me to be surprised at that), and the frequent changes in the various forms and usages of the garment over time indicate that its role as a signifier of class, status, and occupation was much more complicated than I first thought.

Still, I can’t think of a more unflattering garment for women.

No, I’m not so uncouth as to think that women can only be attractive in clothes that are form-fitting and/or show some skin. But then from the neck down, the hanbok is almost like a burqa in that it’s impossible to tell if there’s a man or woman under it, so I certainly can’t imagine anyone ever describing as a woman as sexy in it. Beautiful, yes. Pretty, cute, charming, handsome—sure, you name it. But sexy? Judge for yourselves at Flickr, or from the hanbok sections of recent Miss Korea pageants:

Of course, possibly I’m being too harsh, and by all means feel free to disagree with me: these two bloggers here and here certainly do for instance. (Update: in turn, I disagree with this blogger’s response that being “traditional” means that the clothes shouldn’t be sexy, and that only “a non-Korean male writer” would think they could be both. I’d also point out that they were once considered everyday clothes, with many different purposes. So why should how they now “honor [one’s] tradition and culture” be the only criteria we evaluate them on?). But regardless, hopefully now at least you can understand why I did a double-take when I saw the following new designs last week:


Unfortunately, the only information about them are in clumsily-written advertorials from the company that makes them (see here, here, here, and here), but at least they do explain a little about the logic to the new designs. Here’s my rough translation of the first of them, which incidentally also has the best quality version of the image on the left(!):

아찔한 초미니 한복 / Giddy Ultra-miniskirt Hanbok 2010-07-07 12:09

한국의 아름다움을 오롯이 담고 있는 우리의 옷, 한복. 복을 부르고 화를 쫒는다는 뜻을 담고 있는 한복은, 인생의 중요한 순간마다 반드시 갖춰 입어야 하는 우리 생활의 일부이자 소중한 문화유산이다.

The hanbok is the item of clothing that completely and harmoniously shows Korea’s beauty. It has the meaning of bringing good luck and dispelling anger, and at every important event in your life you should wear this vital part of our cultural inheritance.

한복을 아름답게 입기 위해서는 속적삼과 속치마는 물론이고 긴 치마와 저고리까지 제대로 갖춰야 하지만, 시대가 변하고 젊은 층의 안목도 새로워지면서 한복은 어느새 고리타분하고 촌스러운 옷으로 전락하는 듯 했다. 그러나 명품 한복 브랜드들을 위시해 전통한복을 계승하고 퓨전한복과 한복 드레스를 내놓으며 젊은 층은 물론이고 나아가 세계인의 시선까지 사로잡는 상품을 개발함으로서, 한복은 다시금 아름다운 우리의 옷으로 발돋움하고 있다.

In order to beautifully wear the hanbok, of course you need to the undershirt, petticoat, long skirt, and top and to properly wear them, but as times change the hanbok is become old-fashioned and rustic in young people’s eyes.  However, the hanbok is currently taking a big step in becoming all Koreans’ beautiful clothing again by the entrance on the market of a new brand which has developed a fusion style of traditional hanbok and long skirts that will appeal to everyone from the young generation to globalized people.


한복 알리기와 보급에 주력해 온 명품 브랜드 <안근배 한복 대여> 역시 초미니 한복 드레스와 퓨전 한복 등, 차별화된 디자인과 소재 개발로 고객들의 다양한 요구를 충족시키고 있다. 최근 2010/2011 신상품 70여개를 출시한 <안근배 한복 대여>는 높은 퀄리티의 전통 한복뿐만 아니라 파격적인 초미니 한복 드레스와 퓨전 한복등을 선보이며 화제를 모으는 한편, 우리 고유의 멋을 계승하며 신세대 고객들의 입맛까지 사로잡았다는 평가를 받고 있다. 특히 <안근배 한복 대여>는 전통 한복의 아름다움은 그대로 살리면서도, 더운 여름철에 쾌적하게 한복을 입고 싶어 하는 고객의 구미에 맞는 상품을 전략적으로 출시해 눈길을 끌었다.

Angunbae Hanbok Rentals (AHR) is a company that has concentrated on supplying and letting people know about this new style of hanbok, and in addition to having one fusion type with and ultra-short miniskirt, is differentiating its designs and materials in order to satisfy the varied demands and requirements of customers. Recently, AHR has launched 70 new designs for the 2010/2011 season, and these have been attracting lots of attention not just for their high quality traditional forms but also their fusion with unconventional ultra-short miniskirts, and have been gaining a lot of praise for their coolness that satisfies customers’ modern tastes. In particular, AHR has been noticed for strategically providing customers with hanbok that, while showing off the garments’ traditional beauty, are also a comfortable choice for their summer tastes.

<안근배 한복 대여>는 초미니 한복뿐만 아니라 전통 한복과 한복 드레스 등 다양한 상품으로 인기몰이중이며, 업계 1위의 브랜드답게 전문화된 콜센터 운영과 홈페이지 운영으로 고객들을 만족시키고 있다. 특히 공식홈페이지 http://www.hanbokrent.kr에서는 7월 한 달 간 진행되는 신랑 신부 커플 한복 20% 할인 행사 안내와 다양한 신상품들을 확인할 수 있다.

AHR doesn’t just provide hanbok with ultra-short mini-skirts, but is also popular for its traditional hanbok and hanbok dresses and so on, and provides a wide variety of products to rent; as the top brand in the business, it operates a call center staffed by experts and a homepage to make sure to fully satisfy customers’ needs. And please note: any couples about to get married, visit www.hanbokrent.kr to get a 20% discount on couple hanbok and/or a variety of new products.

(Sources: left, right)

Is 300,000 won reasonable to rent the first ones? Regardless, see many more examples at the “Fusion” section of AHR’s website, and I’m all for changes to any popular item of clothing that make it more comfortable, cooler to wear in the summer, and a little sexier and more elegant too.

But this post wasn’t intended to be only about hanbok. In fact, the humble podaegi (포대기), or traditional Korean baby sling, may ultimately be much more interesting:


Quite simple to put on once you get the knack, it’s very easy to see why Korean mothers would use these while working in fields, or even just the kitchen (scroll down here a little for a picture). Hell, if I had to carry a baby for hours while doing manual labor, then I’d probably choose something that comfortable and tight too, and so I wasn’t surprised to hear from my father’s Nigerian colleagues that my wife’s was just like Nigerian ones, where, naturally enough, they’re called “wrappers,” and the act of wearing one “backing.” (Thanks to reader eccentricyoruba for the terms.)

Still, note that the shoulder straps are a recent adaptation carried over from Western baby harnesses, and there weren’t many versions with them available in 2006 when my first daughter was born; wearing a version like this without them then, my wife’s back got tired quickly, and she speculates that perhaps that would have been less of a problem had she been bending over in a field in it like her mother and grandmother did (she eventually got a Western-style baby harness). Also, as you can imagine they can get extremely hot in the summer, which is why these modern mesh types are now available (and I’m sure ones with shoulder-straps are available too):


Clearly then, podaegi manufacturers are also quite capable of adapting their products to modern tastes. But still, one big, possibly insurmountable problem with them remains.

Men usually refuse to wear them.

(Source: unknown)

At this point, I should probably mention that I don’t wear anything to carry either of my 2 daughters myself: when Alice was born in June 2006, I was working long hours and my wife became a housewife, so it was only natural that she carry her while I carried groceries and so on; when Elizabeth was born in August 2008, my wife carried her whereas I had Alice to either walk with me, chase after, and/or only briefly carry when crossing roads. Sometimes I wish I had used a Western style baby carrier though: both daughters refuse to sleep or be carried in my left arm, often crying until I put them in my right one, and I’m sure that I now have a slightly crooked spine as a result.

Still, of course I did wear my wife’s poedagi at home sometimes, especially when she was out and I had to put them to sleep in the way that they were used to. But in public? Never, for I think I’m safe in assuming that the vast majority of Koreans consider the podaegi as inappropriate on a men as a bra, and which is why you’ll only ever see pictures of them in podaegi if they’re posed in comical situations like the above.

Western-style harnesses however, you’ll see plenty of Korean men wearing them, which leads me to a question I’d like to throw open to readers: are podaegi then, in a sense an impediment to changing people’s beliefs that childcare is only a women’s job?

Yes, of course popular perceptions of clothes and senses of appropriate fashions are constantly changing, and of course there are also a myriad of reasons completely unrelated to clothing that explain why Korea has the highest number of housewives in the OECD. But recall that throughout our daily lives,  we are in fact constantly bombarded with subtle messages that reinforce the notion that parenting is women’s job, so it doesn’t seem unreasonable to suppose that this may also have an impact.

Alternatively, look at it this way: if you were a woman expecting a baby soon, which style would you buy if you wanted your male partner to take equal responsibility for carrying the baby after it arrived?^^

Update: See FeetManSeoul (or The Marmot’s Hole) for a post about upcoming fashion shows featuring Jung Jun Hong and Lee Young Hee, the latter of whom:

…is considered the greatest living hanbok designer. And her stuff is smoking, every season. It’s one of the classiest shows of the season, consistently. She really does hanboks like they should be done — who knew hanbok style was still evolving, and evolving quite stylishly? The former, designer Jung, has a more modern take on the hanboks and always has some of the most colorful shows out there.

ung Jun Hong and Lee Young Hee, the latter of whom is considered the greatest living hanbok designer. And her stuff is smoking, every season. It’s one of the classiest shows of the season, consistently. She really does hanboks like they should be done — who knew hanbok style was still evolving, and evolving quite stylishly? The former, designer Jung, has a more modern take on the hanboks and always has some of the most colorful shows out there.

47 thoughts on “Korean Sociological Image #45: Modernizing Traditional Korean Clothes

  1. I walked with my daughters, both, with a podaegi around the house. In Germany, but I can’t remember if i did the same in Korea at that time. Late 90ies or eight/seven years ago. I only recognised that podaegis were seen more seldom each year in Busan since then. Though more men could be seen with modern versions of them.


      1. In Busan I saw a few times men carrying the children with a kind of podaegi. Though it is seldom I agree.


  2. Nigerians carry their babies on their backs all the time. When I have one I’ll do the same. Cuteness. Plus very practical as it leaves your hands free


  3. There is no way to make hanbok flattering without abandoning the form and shape and creating a garment that’s no longer hanbok. Chinese traditional garments are more form-fitting, so they look good and mix easily with modern clothes. I had no interest in getting hanbok in Korea, but while in China, I had a jacket and qipao (cheongsam dress) made from beautiful silks with traditional patterns. Almost every Westerner I knew also had custom tailored Chinese clothes. Nobody in Western Europe wears traditional clothes, except for historical re-enactments and costume parties. In Korea, it’s mostly the women who keep the dress alive on holidays. When I surveyed Yonsei students on hanbok, nearly all of the male students stated they did not own a set and some even laughed at the notion of wearing one. Trying to sex up hanbok by exposing shoulders and chest while having this puffy bunch of fabric around the hips and thighs just doesn’t work.


    1. You have a point about such changes to the hanbok meaning it would lose its essential “hanbokness”. But even though I still wouldn’t mind myself of course, I do wonder how much modern versions resemble those from various periods of the Joseon dynasty, and if they’d even be recognizable as hanbok to people living then.

      Regardless, I’m surprised to hear that the male students at Yonsei didn’t own one: like a suit, I thought it was one of those things that every guy here must have at least one of. All my Korean male relatives do at least, although maybe all of them being from or still living in the country might have something to do with that, and some do wear Western suits for charyae instead.


    2. Nobody in Western Europe? At least I can tell from Germany that in Northern Germany many men are wearing the traditionel Prinz-Heinrich Mütze (hat). You show that you are from the Northern part. Some are wearing Frisian dress at the coast. Men, not all of course, in Bavaria have their own modernised traditional suit. Handwerker (handkraft) on education who choses the old style are wearing old fashion clothes. http://de.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Datei:Gesellen1.jpg&filetimestamp=20070313121507
      Journeyman’s years, Gesellen.


  4. I first saw that modern style when Paris Hilton came to Korea

    Carrying the baby on the back is done in most of Africa, not only Nigerians’ though :) It’s foolish to leave your child on the floor whilst you cook or clean so you put them on your back and wrap them nicely to avoid incidents. We don’t have such modern versions though hahahal Just get a big cloth and wrap it as tight as you can without killing yer baby. I was carried that way :)

    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_NWuIeei_NsI/S8AqyYqNS4I/AAAAAAAABFE/_8saLu5Rwb4/s1600/GhanaMotherBaby.jpg that’s not me haha


  5. Ha I never thought Hanbok were that unappealing, but perhaps this is from a female’s perspective of clothing. I could also be thinking more along the lines of Japanese Kimono where traditionally things like layering, color choices, cloth etc. are almost more important than what the person actually looks like. It’s also interesting there’s no Korean equivalent of the Yukata ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yukata ), which are much more comfortable in the summer months than wearing all those layers of clothing!


    1. Thanks: I didn’t realize that they were a separate item of clothing entirely. And it’s definitely good that that summer option exists in Japan, although hardly surprising considering what I read about how elaborate and extremely expensive kimono are while I was writing this post.


  6. Before I actually wore a hanbok, I thought they were really lovely, and people always told me that anyone could wear one and look beautiful (always contrasted in the same breath with the kimono or qipao in terms of how you can carry a bit more weight and hide it in a hanbok). But then I went for my hanbok fitting and the women kept commenting on how I couldn’t wear one properly because my breasts are too large…and I’m also 180cm meaning that the tent-like quality of the hanbok really shows on my height. I must say that once I got the whole traditional bridal wear on, I was happier in my outfit because there was just SO MUCH to wear that I embraced it. But the regular hanbok alone? Does not suit a taller + larger breasted woman as well as I would have hoped.

    Now, my mother – who is much much much more well endowed than I, wore a ‘modern’ hanbok meaning in her case that the ‘waist’ line was pulled down a bit further and the top part was longer meaning that the hanbok went more down than out. My husband’s aunt who lives in the US also had a similar hanbok she bought in LA’s K-town, and it looked lovely. I think the short short styles in the pictures you provided are a little extreem and look a bit silly as representative of the ‘modern hanbok’, but between the two examples I cited above and all the 1st birthday celebrations I’ve been going to recently, there’s a lot of really cool new styles of hanboks + cool colour combinations. Some of the mothers at the first 1st birthday parties I’ve been to have been wearing something that is half ballgown half traditional hanbok – but it looks very recognizably Korean (although perhaps not ‘traditional’). I hope this is the way forward in neo-hanbok design, not the tiny party dress version.

    And finally, my American friend who is training to be a doula in Korea (cool in and of itself) has been posting a few cool parenting things today on FB including this http://www.drmomma.org/2010/06/real-men-wear-babies.html – a collection of photos of men carrying their children in a variety of ways in a variety of places.


    1. Thanks for your long and detailed comment, although at first I was a little confused by it, as I read somewhere while preparing this post that in fact women’s hanbok were generally more flattering on taller women. Now that I actually need that reference though, I can’t find it anywhere, and besides which I probably would have deferred to your much greater practical experience and knowledge anyway!

      Thanks also for the dads link!


      1. If you ever find that reference, I would be interested to know what they considered ‘taller’ women. I wonder if the author(s) would be considering women in the 180 cm range or something ‘taller’ from a Korean perspective. Also, I think the size of a woman’s frame, and especially her breast size changes the fit and suitability. I can see how on a Korean model, a hanbok might look lovely with her height. However, there might be a different perspective when it comes to looking at more ‘real’ sizes.


  7. I have four or five modern hanbok and frequently teach in one. I find it far more comfortable than the tight collar and tie that go with western clothes. The summer one is cool (Not so much in the fashion sense) and the others are good in the cool and cold months. For a man at least, they are as loose and comfortable as pajamas but you can wear them to work. How can you beat that?


    1. Hmmm, I didn’t know that: I guess we really didn’t bump into each other all that much last semester! Either way, naturally I am surprised to hear that you find them comfortable to teach in, for the reasons I’ve already mentioned. But I do also find ties very uncomfortable, and am just as surprised at the (Western) clothing choices of one of our colleagues on the 5th floor as I am of yours, as he always looks more like he’s about to go to some exclusive club for drinks rather than get sweaty walking across a large campus with lots of books only then to get covered in marker ink or chalk dust, let alone when he’s teaching kids. I’m sure you know who I mean!


  8. Maybe you don’t fully understand the true Beauty of 한복 when you say it’s not flattering to women’s body at all. It fits to all sizes, hides bosom but easy to feed a child when he needs to be. Also it’s color and texture of the fabric is far more sophisticated than you described. if you look at it with Western male perspective, hmm yeah flattering but with Eastern eyes, it’s beautiful. Showing one’s body shape is not a mean of beauty in all the other countries. People have different standard. and each culture has different standard. I got the same answer when I tried to wear my 한복to Prom (well a little bit altered version of 한복) 6 or 7 years ago. all of my friends thought it made me look fat. But when I wore it and carried myself in polite traditional Korean manner, they all thought it was far prettier than they expected. I don’t know maybe your eyes have been tamed to Western way of looking at beauty.


    1. Bugjun,

      If it is so beautiful to Eastern eyes, why is it so rare to see in Seoul and why are designers “modernizing” it in an attempt to get people to wear it?

      This would be like me claiming that stovepipe hats are sophisticated and attractive. If I took a look outside, I would immediately see that I was of the minority in that opinion.


      1. Well your argument can be countered quite easily by saying that wearing a hanbok, a traditional one or not, isn’t practical.

        Stovepipe hats are a bad example. Suits are sophisticated and attractive, but when I go outside it’s rare and why are people modernizing it if it’s not outdated and ridiculous?

        Al though I think bugjun is taking the wrong approach with the western/eastern view argument I also think that you could have answered it a little bit more respectfully than comparing hanboks to the stovepipe hat. The stovepipe hat which has obvious connotations.


        1. LOL.. neither are high-heels “practical” but because they are considered “beautiful” they are ubiquitous in Korea. Perceived beauty pushes fashion, that’s just how the process works.

          As to the “connotations” of the stovepipe hat? I’m not sure I understand your point?

          The fact is stovepipe hats look stupid to modern eyes, people think the look stupid, and people don’t wear them. They wear all other kinds of headgear that is just as ‘practical’ or ‘impractical,’ but they wear the ones they consider attractive..


          1. Marvin, naturally my last comment below shows I agree with you about Bugjun being misguided in mentioning “Western” and “Eastern” beauty ideals. But Charles’s point about high-heels is quite valid, and I also don’t know of the connotations of the stovepipe hat that you mention sorry.


          2. Well high heels are there to make the legs and rear become more accentuated. To be more accentuated you have to see the form. That is sexy, hanbok for most is not. Doesn’t mean it isn’t beautiful, elegant or anything. It’s more traditional and stately. The woman of the southern united states (southern belles as we called them) had a traditional dress as well that had a huge bottom. It did show more curves though. I wouldn’t equate it as sexy either but could easily it could be said that it was beautiful. Don’t put sexy against beauty as they are not essentially inclusive terms.


          3. I think high-heels are very practical. Just not comfortable. I don’t see someone not getting on a metro/tram or any other form of public transportation because of high heels. Or being hindered in many other things. And of course I don’t see people getting into high heels taking a long period of time. As such I think high-heels as an argument is not valid at all.

            Sorry, English is my second language so sometimes the connections I make are weird. With stovepipe hats I immediately had the idea of the extremely high versions (aka I saw Abraham Lincoln). So yes they look stupid, but I don’t think hanboks look stupid. Negative connotation…

            On another note I also think the stovepipe hat and high heels don’t have the same cultural significance as the hanbok.


    2. (This comment is in reply to Bugjun: don’t know how it ended up down right down here!)

      Naturally I agree Charles. And Bugjun: you attack a straw man that has very little to do with what I actually said about hanbok, and simply shows your prejudices about Western males instead. To be specific:

      …it’s color and texture of the fabric is far more sophisticated than you described.

      Actually, I never described either. I even agree that they can be sophisticated.

      …if you look at it with Western male perspective, hmm yeah flattering but with Eastern eyes

      Pray, what is this “Western male perspective”? Please tell me how it is different to the Korean one? And what are “Eastern eyes”?

      it’s beautiful. Showing one’s body shape is not a mean of beauty in all the other countries

      I never said it wasn’t beautiful. I said it wasn’t sexy: there’s quite a big difference. And good luck trying to find men in any other cultures that believe that women can be sexy in androgynous, baggy, figure-disguising items of clothing, which also happen to be usually worn with their hair tied back firmly.

      …they all thought it was far prettier than they expected

      Don’t ever recall saying it wasn’t pretty either.

      I don’t know maybe your eyes have been tamed to Western way of looking at beauty.

      Hmmm…I don’t know either. Maybe it’s just that you’re full of shit? Could that be it?

      Seriously, please don’t bother replying unless there’s something more substantial to your arguments then the fact that I’m a Western male.


      1. James I love your blog and love the comments people post on them. Even though I don’t always reply I regularly read it and am always impressed by the objectivity and maturity of it.

        But on a very rare occasion you get a little emotional and say things like someone being “full of shit” and I’m always left a little disillusioned.

        I think your comment was completely justified and well constructed, but maybe that leaving that one part out would have made it a lot better.

        I hope I’m not taking too much liberty to make a critique like this.


        1. Oh, always feel free to critique me on anything Marvin, but like you said [the rest] of my comment was completely justified, and one does have to call a spade a spade sometimes. If that last means that you remain disillusioned and no longer find my blog objective and mature however, then so be it.

          Nevertheless, I do still challenge your assertion that even on “a very rare occasion” I “get a little emotional and say things like someone being full of shit” however: out of the 5,169 comments on this blog as I type this, there’s probably less than a handful in which I’ve overreacted and/or even sworn, and accordingly I’d be genuinely surprised if I wasn’t well-known as one the most polite bloggers in the English-language Korean-blogosphere. Hence you do seem to have a very low threshold for this sort of thing.


          1. Actually the very low threshold is very very true. I don’t know why, but I think it’s a kind of hope for a world where everyone can be polite to each other and still discuss things.
            But maybe you’re right and I’m a little bit too sensitive about it.

            And I won’t see the blog the blog as less objective and mature because of one sentence.

            Also on another note.

            I read something about Japanese Heian customs on the net. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20070429x1.html

            The relevant and interesting part is the part about Murasaki Shikibu, the author of “the tale of the Genji”.

            Where they talk, very briefly, about the perceptions of a 10th / 11th century Japanese court lady’s on nakedness.


  9. This was an interesting post. I find hanbok to be really beautiful though I’ve never worn one. I think that they are very flattering and the newer hanbok designs featured in your post are not as pretty and elegant as the more traditional styles. As one of my profs explained, Japan is about lines and Korea is about curves. This is especially true when you compare the Kimono and the Hanbok. I hope to wear one one day.


  10. Since the hanbok covers everything except the hands and face, perhaps that is partly why there is such an obsession with having an attractive face? If that is the only thing that people could actually see, it would be extremely important to have an attractive a face as possible. Since they can’t see anything else…


  11. I didn’t think that hanboks were sexy either until I watched Hwang Jin Yi. While watching that drama I realized that they could be very sexy. I think they are very beautiful. I like the play of the different fabrics against each other.
    Hwang Jin Yi Hanbok: http://diannethegeek.com/hwang5.html

    I also really like HanbokLynn’s Hanbok’s: http://www.weddinginspirasi.com/2010/08/20/fusion-korean-wedding-dress-fashion-colorful-modern-hanbok-lynn/#more-6622
    more here: http://hanboklynn.co.kr/Gallery/gallery_view.php?type=1012

    Also, Carolina Herrera had a hanbok inspired Spring collection last year which can be seen here: http://www.elle.com/Runway/Ready-to-Wear/Spring-2011-RTW/CAROLINA-HERRERA/CAROLINA-HERRERA#mode=base;slide=52;

    I think she had some interesting inspirations with the hanbok. I liked the ball gown the most I think, but then I am a sucker for full skirts.


    1. Thanks very much for the links. Although I’ve softened my opinion on hanbok a little since this post was written though, and realize that how women themselves feel in them is the important thing, alas, I still can’t bring myself to find traditional hanbok themselves at all sexy sorry. But I definitely agree that they can be beautiful!


  12. Why does women’s clothing have to be sexy? The hanbok is elegant. Not all women want to be bootylicious, some of us have class. The hanbok is beautiful in it’s design – the pleats, the flowing lines of the skirt, the way the skirt billows and floats around you, the clean lines of the bodice, the richness of the fabric. It’s designed not to show off a woman’s body but her grace and elegance.


  13. I know this in a really old post, but I can’t speak to the female hanbok, never having worn one, and not being Asian at all – but I think the women look incredibly beautiful in it – so does my hubby! I will say that I watch Korean period dramas to get my fill of watching the men in historical dress – and I find the hats really sexy… maybe I’m weird, but I think it looks so manly in the robes with the hat and beads… especially if said guy is carrying a sword as well. And I’m not talking about the pretty boy stars (yuk) – it’s usually one of the older noble guys or the soldiers that gets me…


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