The Evolution of the Korean Hanbok

Have you ever wondered where some of the world’s most beautiful traditional dresses originated from? We see Kimonos, Saris, and Hanboks in movies, period dramas, or at ceremonies, but how did those iconic fashion styles come to be?

The Evolution of the Korean Hanbok, Travel, Korean Traditional Hanbok, Korean Hanbok, Trendy Modern Korean Hanbok, Korean Traditional Wear, Korea, Korean Culture
The Evolution of the Korean Hanbok
[ image: shopee.com.my ]

It’s been said that Korea’s most famous traditional dress, the hanbok, became popular sometime in the historical ‘Three Kingdoms’ era. As each empire in Korea exhibited its own clothing trends and flair, the hanbok has also been fluctuating in style for 2000 years. Let’s jump back in time and examine how the hanbok first evolved through the Baekje, Silla, and Goguryeo Empires.

Before we begin, the term Hanbok literally translates to ‘Korean clothing.’ Hanboks are comprised of two basic parts. Both men and women wear a top called ‘Jeogori’. The Jeogori for women is secured by a string referred to as ‘Goreum.’ The lower part of a woman’s hanbok is called a ‘Chima,’ or a skirt that extends to the floor. Men dress in a loose-fitting pant that is referred to as ‘Baji.’ This ensemble is then completed with silk shoes/footwear that are referred to as ‘Kkotsin.’

The Evolution of the Korean Hanbok, Travel, Korean Traditional Hanbok, Korean Hanbok, Trendy Modern Korean Hanbok, Korean Traditional Wear, Korea, Korean Culture
The Three Kingdom of Korea

Evolution of Hanbok

The roots of the Korean hanbok are found all the way back in the era of the Three Kingdoms, which spanned approximately 57 B.C. to 668 A.D. Baekje lasted from approximately 18 B.C. to 660 A.D. Goguryeo from approximately 37 B.C. to 668 A.D., and Silla - which inhabited the Korean Peninsula - from 57 B.C. to 935 A.D.

How did their styles compare? As you can see in the picture, Baekje citizens exhibited broader trousers compared to those worn by the people of Goguryeo, Their tops were lengthier and looser as well.

A few hundred years later, during the Goryeo Dynasty (918 – 1392), the Mongolians came into the picture and influenced the look of the hanbok. You’ll notice the style change through a shortened Chima and the Jeoguri tied across the abdomen.

Next, Joseon Kingdom (1392 – 1897) served as a significant turning point in the hanbok’s transformation. The Jeogori for women had been fabricated in a shorter, more fitting style than in earlier years. People then began to wear Jeogori more on the upper part of the abdomen. This Jeogori was to be worn close to the chest and was often accompanied by a white band that lined the chest. This is the hanbok style many of us have come to know and appreciate today.

The Evolution of the Korean Hanbok, Travel, Korean Traditional Hanbok, Korean Hanbok, Trendy Modern Korean Hanbok, Korean Traditional Wear, Korea, Korean Culture
The Evolution of the Korean Hanbok

The hanbok style has continued to change gradually since then, and today there are even trendy modern hanbok styles for everyday wear. What was once an outfit only for formal occasions is becoming a fashion statement. So the next time you see one at a temple or ceremony, consider the thousands of years of Korean history that shaped the elegant dress in front of you.

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