It’s likely you will have seen idols in hanbok before, but you might not necessarily know the history behind it! The traditional dress is known as ‘hanbok’ and generally refers to the clothing of the Joseon period. The dress differs for males and females and is still worn today for formal occasions such as the Chuseok holiday and the New Year.
The earliest designs of the hanbok can be traced back to before the 3rd Century BCE, though it has undertaken many subtle transformations over the years. The women’s hanbok changed shape a number of times due to foreign influences such as Mongolian princesses and imports from China. It eventually evolved into what we recognise today; the Jeogori is the upper garment and covers the arms while the hem rests in between the waist and chest. The skirt is called known as the Chima and is often accompanied by an underskirt. It is full length and maintains an A-line/triangle shape. The colour of a chima would often represent the woman’s social status. However, the men’s hanbok saw little change. The pants are called Baji and the baggy fit is intended to make sitting on the floor easier and more comfortable.
During the Joseon Dynasty, there were wide differences between the hanbok of the upper and lower classes. Only the royal family would wear hanbok with patterns formed from gold leaf. The upper classes wore hanbok made from high quality, lightweight materials in warm weather and wore silks for the rest of the year. Bright colours were often worn by children, with the adults wearing more modest colours. The lower class ‘commoners’ were forbid to wear any colour other than white and had to use cotton for their garments, though were permitted to wear dull colours for special occasions.
Many female groups have sported modern hanbok, with shorter skirts, tighter tops and a range of colour schemes. While these modern takes on traditional dress show much more skin than the originals, they don’t come anywhere close to the bold, sexy outfits seen in most K-pop videos today, preferring to stay more modest and respectable.
What do you think about the hanbok? Would you like to try one on? And which idol looks the best in a hanbok? Let us know in the comments below!