A Guide To Modern Korean Hanboks
If you are walking around the touristic center of Seoul, you will spot many tourists going around Bukchon village and the palaces in traditional clothing. These traditional Korean hanboks are colourful outfits that were worn back in the Joseon Dynasty. Now they are more modern and colourful, perfect for that Instagram shot! Read on to find out more about the traditional and especially modern hanbok in Korea.
Traditional Korean Hanbok
Hanboks were first used in the Goguryo dynasty (around 3BCE). During those days most commoners where nomadic, so hanboks were designed to make movement easier. That explains the wide bottom dress and comfortable top. The design of the hanbok has gone through a lot of changes over the years and the traditional Korean hanbok as seen today are direct descendants of the hanbok from the 19th century.
Towards the end of the Joseon Dynasty, and still nowadays, these traditional hanboks were only worn during special occasions like wedding ceremonies, Chuseok and Seolnal. The main parts of the hanbok for women are the chima (=skirt) and Jeogori (=top). For men it is the baji (=trousers) and Jeogori (=shirt).
The traditional Korean hanbok has been evolving over the years and now in the 21st century, hanboks are not what they used to be anymore. The younger Korean generations started to wear hanboks again, but the more modern version which can be worn on special occasions like weddings or combined with casual clothing like sneakers, jeans and jumpers. Colourful patterns and comfortable hanbok designs can be found, and on top of that these modern Korean clothing can be machine washed.
1. Modern Hanbok Fashion
The modern hanbok fashion is getting extremely popular among the K-fashion scene. The traditional, elegant and full-body covering outfit is transformed into a modern version where short dresses and shorts are possible. They are suitable for any occasion from chique modern hanbok wedding dresses to everyday wear.
Main leading brands that sell the modern hanbok dress and trousers are The Korean In Me, Leesle, Chimajeogori and Coreano, this is where you can buy your modern hanbok online. But if you walk around the streets of Seoul, especially in Insadong or Bukchon village you will find many small hanbok shops. Other cities where you can easily find hanbok shops are the ancient Silla capital, Gyeongju, and the Jeonju hanok village.
Note: The Korean In Me is an online hanbok shop located in the USA that sells both modern and traditional Korean hanboks. They don’t only have hanboks from women but also for men and children. If you are a fan of Kdramas, you can guy cool Joseon hats as well. These kind of hats are featured in Korean dramas like Kingdom.
2. Leesle – Modern Korean Hanbok Brand
One of the leading brands that designs modern Korean hanboks is Leesle. They are based in Jeonju but ship all over Korea and the rest of the world. They offer a wide range of hanboks from rather traditional designs to modern interpretations of hanboks. There are different seasonal collections for both men and women. A modern hanbok dress still resembles the traditional dresses but are more comfortable to wear due to the design and materials used.
Interested in getting your own beautiful Leesle hanbok? Click here for a 10% discount coupon which will automatically be applied to your shopping basket.
3. Modern Hanbok Wedding Dress
Nowadays it is still popular among Korean to have a traditional Korean wedding. This is a confusion ceremony where the bride and groom are dressed in red and blue hanbok robes. Under these robes they are wearing their own hanbok. The ceremony is filled with symbolism that represents couple goals.
When wearing a modern Korean hanbok wedding dress you will definitely stand out from other weddings. A good place to go shopping for modern hanbok wedding dresses is Etsy, the modern wedding hanboks sold here are both pretty and affordable. Find more info here.
Other brands that sell modern Korean wedding dresses are Leehwa and Hanbok Sarang. If you don’t want to buy your own hanbok, why not rent one for a Korean pre-wedding or wedding ceremony photo shoot. Find more info here.
A traditional Korean wedding ceremony, also known as “Taerye,” is a beautiful and elaborate event that has been practiced for centuries. The ceremony is a symbol of respect for the couple’s families, ancestors, and cultural heritage. Before the ceremony begins, the couple must undergo several steps of preparation, such as matching horoscopes and selecting a wedding date. During the ceremony, the bride and groom wear colorful traditional clothing called “hanbok,” and they participate in various rituals, including the exchanging of wooden geese and a bowing ceremony to pay respect to their parents.
The ceremony concludes with a feast and traditional Korean music and dance performances. The beauty and significance of the traditional Korean wedding ceremony make it an unforgettable experience for all involved.
Another cool thing to do is to mix and match wedding outfits from different cultures.
4. Modern Hanbok Men
Not only are these modern Korean clothes getting increasingly popular among women, but also with men. Modern hanbok fashion for men are a little bit simpler than those for women. No busy patterns, but more even colours.
The hanbok for men consist of baji and Jeogori, this is the same for the modern Korean clothes. If you are dating in Korea, then why not get a hanbok couple outfit for you and your girlfriend?
5. Modern Hanbok Pattern
Looking to make your own modern Korean hanbok? Then Pinterest is the best place to look for inspiration. You can find all kinds of hanbok patterns form traditional to modern ones. Another option is to buy patterns through Etsy, you can easily buy a digital pattern of your favourite dress on Etsy. Find more info here.
For the skirt and top you want to find light fabric like ramie or silk. You can choose for a plain fabric or one decorated with patterns. Traditionally the fabric was plain, but there are no rules when it comes to the hanbok modern design.
Things To Do When Wearing A Hanbok
Korea is a country with a rich cultural heritage and one of its most iconic symbols is the hanbok, a traditional Korean garment worn for formal or semi-formal occasions. Wearing a hanbok is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in Korean culture and history, and there are many fun activities to enjoy while dressed in this beautiful attire. From visiting historical landmarks to taking part in traditional games and activities, there are plenty of exciting things to do in Korea when wearing a hanbok.
There are so many cool places in Seoul and the rest of Korea, where you can take awesome pictures when wearing a modern Korean dress or hanbok.
1. Free Entry To The Seoul Palaces
The best place to take stunning pictures while wearing a hanbok is one of the Seoul Palaces. Even better, when wearing a hanbok, entrance to Gyeongbokgung, Changgyeonggung, Changdeokgung and Deoksugung Palace is free. These palaces are a must visit when in Seoul. Check a detailed 4 day, 5 day and 7 day Seoul itinerary for more info on where to go to when in Seoul.
2. Take A Traditional Tea Ceremony
There is no better way to experience Korean culture than taking a tea ceremony. During the ceremony you’ll learn about the tea culture while tasting delicious tea and tea snacks. Wearing a hanbok just takes this experience to another level. Check more info here.
The traditional Korean tea ceremony, also known as Darye, is a cultural practice that has been passed down for generations. It is a formal event that emphasizes harmony, respect, and mindfulness. During the ceremony, the host prepares tea using the traditional Korean teapot and cups, while the guests observe and appreciate the artistry of the process.
The host serves the tea to each guest in a specific order, and each guest is expected to show gratitude and appreciation for the tea and the ceremony itself. The tea ceremony is not just about drinking tea, but rather an opportunity to connect with others and appreciate the beauty and simplicity of life.
Frequently Asked Questions
A modern Korean hanbok is a contemporary version of the traditional Korean dress. It maintains the basic structure and silhouette of the traditional hanbok but incorporates modern design elements and materials, such as shorter hemlines, bold patterns, and new fabrics like denim and silk blends.
Yes, a modern Korean hanbok is designed to be worn for a variety of occasions, from casual outings to formal events. It’s a versatile garment that can be styled in different ways to suit the wearer’s personal taste and the occasion. Some modern hanbok designers even create designs specifically for everyday wear, incorporating practical features like pockets and adjustable waistbands.
Anyone can wear a modern Korean hanbok, regardless of their ethnicity or cultural background. In fact, many non-Koreans have embraced the hanbok as a fashionable and elegant garment. Some modern hanbok designers create designs that incorporate elements from other cultures, such as Western-style jackets or African-inspired prints, to create a fusion of different styles. Ultimately, the modern Korean hanbok is a garment that celebrates creativity, diversity, and inclusivity.
Can one rent a hanbok for a photo at the palaces? Thank you
no there are no shops in the palace. But you will find many rental shops around the palaces. Especially around Gyeongbokgung palace
Liked your article a lot.
Is there someplace to buy simple baji and jeogori? I run a Kumdo school, and would like to switch from the common Japanese uniform (a hakama and keikogi) to something that better reflects the Korean culture and movement. In teaching kumdo, I try to reflect the cultural distinctiveness of it as a martial art of war, vs. the Japanese dueling style of kendo. So I’d like a uniform for my students that speaks of traditional Korean military uniform, not Samurai class nobles.