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Hanbok ‘lite’

Traditional costume slims down for modern times

Sept 07,2003
The following is a tip on traditional Korean language and customs in response to a query from a Mr. Bonnay, who wrote to us from Seoul:

Q. Mr. Bonnay:
I’ve noticed rather odd-looking Korean hanbok on the streets. It resembles the costumes that I’ve seen in Korean culture and textbooks, but I can tell it is a different breed of costume, because it looks more casual and simple.

What exactly are these outfits?

A. IHT-JAD:
Traditional Korean attire, known as hanbok, can be stunning, but most Koreans consider them impractical because of their elaborate design and fancy materials. More than a decade ago, a few tailors modified the hanbok design by switching to more practical fabric, such as linen or cotton, and slimming down the silhouette. Amidst the debate on whether to change the Korean national costume, a handful of local artists popularized this look.

The new hanbok was first called gyeryang hanbok, literally meaning “improved hanbok.” Today it is popularly known as saenghwal hanbok, which means “everyday hanbok.”


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