Youth in Love with Hanbok
Kim Seol Jieun  |  smt_kje@sm.ac.kr
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승인 2015.10.08  00:52:03
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A new trend has started to rise among teenages; they are literally falling in love with it.  It is seen by some as glittering with colours, but it is also seen as being elegant and calm.  Even though it may appear grand and magnificent, it is so comfortable and light that most people desire it.  The item comes in many types and designs, but nothing better shows Korean tradition and sentiment.  Have you figured out what it is?  It’s the Korean traditional outfit ‘Hanbok.’  In the past, Hanbok was used only on special days, but nowadays, Hanbok is becoming everyday outfits that can be worn at school.


Youth Who Cannot Deny Their Love

Many universities are showing an interest in Hanbok nowadays, so there is a growing number of clubs opting for a Hanbok uniform.  In particular, there is a Hanbok Women’s Club at Sookmyung Women’s University that is doing a lot to promote the use of Hanbok. Kwak Hyunji, member of the club, said, “To promote Hanbok’s beauty, we provide foreigners and Koreans with Hanbok outfits on Memorial Day and National Foundation Day. Because the response by participants has been good, we feel our contribution to the spread of Hanbok beauty to be rewarding.”  Also, in order to promote the popularity of Hanbok, Duksung Women’s University held a special Hanbok party this past spring.  At the festival, students wore beautiful Hanboks and played traditional Korean games such as Korean Circle Dance.  Besides this, the university also hosted a Hanbok Queen contest. Lee Seoyean, Department of Food & Nutrition ’15, said, “The event was so meaningful because I had never imagined students wearing Hanbok at school before.  Thanks to the party, I took more pride in Hanbok.” 
On Facebook and other SNSs, people can now see photos of people in their twenties wearing Hanbok on trips.  Especially, Jeonju Hanok Village and Seoul Bukchon Village are famous places where visitors can borrow a Hanbok.  According to one rental person at Jeonju Hanok Village, the company sells about 200 items of clothing each day, and 80% of the customers are people in their twenties.1  The popularity of wearing Hanbok while on vacation has grown immensely.  In addition to this project, thanks to the Hanbok trend, various regions have made a Hanbok Day for people in their twenties.  Jeonju Hanok Village not only introduces its visitors to Hanbok, it started a Flash Mob Festival, where all participations wear Hanbok.  Around 100 people in their twenties gathered to enjoy the event that happens on Hanbok Day.

The reporter saw the life-style Hanbok through the Internet.                   PHOTO BY KJE

The Moment Hanbok Stole Youth's Hearts

When did young people start to become interested in Hanbok?  The interest in Hanbok by people in their twenties did not occur quickly.  Instead, it has grown gradually.  In the past, people viewed Hanbok as being inconvenient and stuffy, but people have come to love Hanbok for its conveniences and comfort.  Compared to a traditional Hanbok, modern designs coincide with consumer taste, convenience and comfort, so nowadays, the “life-style” Hanbok has appeared.  According to Hwang Yujung, a 22-year-old who enjoys wearing her life-style Hanbok twice a week: “Through my life-style Hanbok, I can express my individuality as well as feel comfortable in casual clothing.  I have worn it in this manner for over a year and I have never felt it to be a burden to wear.
The consciousness about Hanbok among people in their twenties has changed rapidly compared to the past.  Just a few years ago, visitors would only see people wearing traditional clothes in nations like Japan (the Kimono) and China (the Chipao).  It was rare to see people in Hanbok out and about the city.  However, according to a survey of people in their 20s conducted in front of Hongik University, by REESLE, a Hanbok brand, 70% of youth said they would walk about the streets of Hongdae wearing a Hanbok.3  This survey shows how the prejudice of the past has disappeared, and that young people now recognize the superiority of Hanbok.  For today’s youth, Hanbok is not just traditional clothing but a new trendy fashion that can be worn daily to express their character.


Love is Everlasting

The interest in Hanbok among people in their twenties sends the public a clear message.  In the near future, Koreans may opt to wear Hanbok in their daily routines or when travelling. Just five years ago, people saw Hanbok as formal wear, which was stored in wardrobes.  In fact, according to one essay in 2010 about the recognition of Hanbok, 96% of 300 Koreans worn their Hanbok outfits only on national holidays or when they married. A mere 4% wore it as everyday clothing.4  This finding shows how in the past people overlooked these beautiful clothes.  Therefore, people in their twenties are now campaigning for Hanbok by uploading pictures of Hanbok on SNS sites in order to raise its status in society.                 Secondly, it is a great way to show people outside of Korea how wonderful Hanbok truly is. In short, university students are working on promotion of this new trend like promotional ambassadors.  In particular, Haetkwi, which is the Hanbok club at Chung-Ang University is trying to popularize Hanbok among Koreans and foreigners.  It hosts many programmes that aim at explaining the difference between male-Hanbok and female-Hanbok outfits to foreigners, encouraging people to wear Hanbok at school, and so on. Thanks to the various activities by university students, the passion for wanted to wear Hanbok has risen.


Deepen Our Relationships

Recently, one university’s festival was criticized because several female students wore Hanbok outfits, which exposed their innerwear.  Although interest in Hanbok has grown, utilizing the clothing as revealing items of clothing can be big problems.  To ensure interest in Hanbok develops properly, Korean society must think much of Hanbok.  Also, Hanbok has great potential.  According to The Sookmyung Times’ 316th edition, Hwang Yiseul who is a life-style Hanbok designer, “As a Hanbok designer, I am confident that the future of Hanbok is bright and that the Hanbok industry will continue to grow. Internationally, with the Hanryu Wave, more foreigners are showing a deep interest in it.” Therefore, let’s take pride in Hanbok, Korean traditional clothes.


1 Lee Byunghak, “Have You Ever Worn a Hanbok During a Trip?,” Hankyoreh, July 22, 2015
2 Jo Eunbyul, “Foreigners Who Wear Traditional Clothes,” Oh my news, September 4, 2015
3 Jun Honip, “You Can Wear Hanbok with Blue Jeans,” Hankook Ilbo, October 14, 2014
Park Donghyun, “Twenties Who Fall in Love with Hanbok,” Policy Briefing, February 2, 2013

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