The hanbok (South Korea) or choson-ot (North Korea) is the traditional Korean dress. The hanbok is characterized by clean lines and is generally designed in vibrant colors. The specific design of this dress depends on one’s social or governmental status. The woman’s hanbok is made up of a wrap-around skirt, called a chima, and a short jacket, the jeogori. The man’s hanbok consists of baggy pants that are tied at the ankle, called baji, and the short jacket, the jeogori. The colors of the hanbok represent the rich and vibrant history of Korea, yet the simple lines and soft curves maintain a sense of humility present even in today’s Korean people.
The materials used to make the hanbok and the color of the hanbok distinguished the social strata of the person wearing the Korean dress. Members of the upper class, or royalty, wore a hanbok made with high quality, lightweight material or fine-woven ramie cloth, which was used during warm weather seasons. The rest of the time, they wore hanboks made of plain or patterned design, depending on the mood of the individual. The dress of the Korean upper class were usually designed with bright colors, however the more vibrant colors were usually reserved for the children while the modest and calmer colors were used by the older generations. The commoners were required, by law, to wear white as their everyday color. During formal events, they were permitted to wear pale shades of pink, grey, green or charcoal.
Today’s Korean dress is a simpler version of the hanbok of yesterday. It is made of two to three easy to wear pieces. Also, because the hanbok is only worn once or twice a year, today’s hanbok tends to be made of less expensive fabric than in the past. Still worn during formal Korean events, such as a child’s first birthday, the hanbok is an important cultural and historical mainstay, proudly worn by today’s modern Korean.
Check out the Korean Doll wearing the Korean dress.
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