[Letters] Modernizing our hanbok
Korea’s traditional costume hanbok is not as popular as China’s chipao or Japan’s kimono. The young generation of our country is reluctant to wear it.
In pictures taken during holidays in the 1950s and 1960s, most people wear hanbok regardless of their gender or age. However, these days, it is difficult to find one person wearing the costume even on traditional holidays.
The main reason why hanbok started to disappear is that the mothers who took care of house chores and cooking stopped wearing them. As the mothers’ interest in hanbok decreased, the chances that husbands and children had to wear them went down as well.
The splendid look of hanbok can be too flashy for people to wear outside, and its many layers can be bothersome in ordinary life. Plus, the high cost of the expensive material and the worry of it becoming dirty have made young people, who seek convenience, turn away from hanbok.
For our hanbok to become more appealing to the public, it’s important to design them from less expensive material and to make them functional in modern life. The so-called “reformed hanbok” in the shops today look practical, but they are not diverse and attractive in their design, so young people are not interested in them.
Hanbok makers and researchers have the duty to pursue not only tradition but also to develop the design in a way that young people favor. And they need to use modern materials so that they can appeal to the public, especially to youngsters. If the young people of today do not wear hanbok, no one will wear them after a few decades. Nicknamed the “costume of the wind,” hanbok may blow away like the wind before then.
Cho Won-shik, Yangchung High School student