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Beauty Enhancing Hanbok


Hanbok, a type of traditional Korean clothing, is now only worn during national holidays or weddings. The beauty of hanbok is in its clean, artistic lines and its vibrant colors. Hanboks are custom-made to enhance beauty and minimize flaws; for example, hanbok collars can be altered to make the wearer’s neck look longer. The hanbok must be worn with proper underclothes and accessories, and is made even more beautiful when the wearer practices traditional etiquette.

Fabrics and Decorations

Silk is the main fabric used in making hanboks, but summer hanboks are often made with ramie or hemp and winter hanboks are frequently made with brocade or satin. Some decorations such as gilts or embroidery can be attached to hanbok, and characters such as 囍 (Hui 희, happiness and joy) and 福 (Bok 복, fortune or luck) or flower patterns are frequently used as part of the adornment. Other frequent patterns include Korean characters meaning phoenix, tiger, peacock, crane, butterfly, or dragon.


How to Wear Hanbok

Hanbok was not considered complete unless worn with the appropriate traditional undergarments and accessories. In recent years, however, the wearing of the hanbok has become greatly simplified. Men just need to wear pants and a jeogori (basic upper garment of hanbok) or magoja (outer coat worn between jeogori and overcoat), with a durumagi overcoat to complete their look.

Hanbok for women consists of jeogori (upper garmet), a skirt, and undergarments. Traditionally, women’s hanbok consisted of seven different layers of underclothes, but nowadays women only need to wear the skirt and one layer of undergarments (usually pants).

Hanbok and Film

The beauty of hanbok can be witnessed in historical dramas and films portraying ancient Korea. Using the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) as their backdrop, Daejanggeum (대장금) and Empress Myeongseong have been wildly popular in Asia, as well as the recent soap opera Queen Seondeok (선덕여왕), which takes place during the Silla Dynasty (57 B.C.-935 A.D.). Hanboks featured in film are quite historically accurate and can help viewers more deeply understand hanbok style differences between social classes and the overall fashion style of each era.


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