Do you know the ‘Ten-thousand hour rule?’ It states that if you want to be the top in any field, you need to put in at least ten-thousand hours in that field. Korean traditional Hanbok Designer, Park Sulnyeo, also agrees with this rule. This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of her Hanbok life. She put in over 30 years to now become the top Hanbok designer in Korea. To hear her life addicted to Hanbok, the Sookmyung Times (SMT) met Hanbok Designer Park Sulnyeo (PARK).
SMT What made you become a Hanbok designer?
PARK My mother inspired me a lot. She always said, ‘To catch a frog, you need to know the technique’ and ‘To find water, you need to dig a deep well.’ Like these sentences, she emphasized the importance of skills and patience. Also, she said clothes are the most important things in life. Adding to her ideals, I thought that as long as Korea exists, Korean traditional clothing or ‘Hanbok’ will not disappear, so I started to create Hanbok.
SMT The year 2014 must be special to you since it’s the thirtieth anniversary of your Hanbok life. Have you gone through difficulties in those thirty years?
PARK These days, I struggle. During the last seven years, the power of the new job, ‘Wedding Consultant,’ has grown immensely strong in the wedding industry. Wedding consultants do everything including making decisions about Hanbok. More and more people leave their wedding planning to wedding consultants since it’s more convenient. Since I was confident in my Hanbok designs, I believed people would still look for my Hanbok creations even though the wedding industry has become drastically different, so I did not form a partnership with wedding consulting companies. I still think I made the right decision, but it’s true, I went through difficulties for a while.
SMT You have put nearly half of your life into Hanboks.
PARK Yes. I lived my life just for Hanbok and gave up everything except Hanbok design. When you think of a normal family, you imagine them sitting around the table and eating dinner together. However, that was not normal in our home. Even though it takes just thirty minutes to go to Yeoido, I have never been to the Yeoido Cherry Blossom Festival. I sometimes missed out on those small things.
SMT These days, people think it unusual to wear Hanbok except on special days like weddings. However, in Japan, it is normal to see people wearing Japanese traditional clothes on university graduation days.
PARK It’s true. I think it’s a huge problem. Some people say Hanbok is too expensive. However, people are generous with money when it comes to buying brand-name goods. It is sad that people hesitate to spend money on Hanbok. It’s useless to just say, ‘Hanbok is gorgeous’ on TV.
SMT Lots of famous people seek out your Hanbok designs for special occasions. Who was your most interesting customer?
PARK Britney Spears. In April 2003, she came to Korea to promote her new album. As a foreigner, she looked really beautiful wearing a pink colored Hanbok. Through her, I realized the beauty of Hanbok again. Hanbok fits everyone perfectly, regardless of the person’s ethnicity.
SMT How do you get inspired for your Hanbok design ideas?
PARK I get ideas from everything in life. I am crazy about Hanbok, so I am always thinking about it. When I sleep, when I dream, and when I eat, I am constantly thinking of Hanbok. In other words, I pay little attention to other things, but concentrate on new ideas for new Hanbok designs.
SMT There are lots of students who worry about their future. As you are now top of a specialized field, could you please advise these students?
PARK I want to emphasize the statement ‘Sweat does not lie.’ Including my nieces, lots of youngsters want to work in an area that matches their own standard. However, I want to say just work unconditionally. I believe that when you work hard, whether it perfectly fits your own standard, you will find a philosophy for life that suits you. Also, some people want to make lots of money without doing much work. That thinking is really inappropriate. I want to say that perspiration leads to success and wealth naturally. In my case, it took ten years to perfect my technique, so I want to say those students, “Just work hard unconditionally.”
Park Sulnyeo [PARK]
* Hanbok Designer, and also a Hanbok Researcher
* CEO of Parksulnyeo Hanbok
* Recieved Certificate of Merit from KBS in 1999
* Recieved Grand Prize Of Fashion in KSCPI in 2013