A B O U T   K O R E A

Korean Traditional Dress :

'picture from Hanbok by sunny yang'
The Korean costume is called hanbok. It is characterized by simple lines and no pockets. The women's hanbok comprise a wrap skirt and a bolero-like jacket, and the men's, roomy pants bound at the ankles and a short jacket. Hanbok are worn by Koreans of all ages, particularly on traditional holidays and when attending social affairs having a Korean overtone.
Some of the basic elements of today's hanbok, namely the jacket (chogori) and pants (paji), were probably worn at a very early date, but it was not until the Three Kingdoms period (57 B.C.-A.D.668) that the two-piece costume of today began to evolve. Short, tight trousers and tight, waist-length jackets were worn by both men and women during the early part of the period as evidenced by ancient tomb paintings.
Toward the end of the Three Kingdoms period, T'ang China introduced Koreans to silk mandarin robes and they were adopted for wear by royalty and officials. Noblewomen began to wear full-length skirt-trousers and wide-sleeved, hip-length jackets belted at the waist and noblemen began to wear roomy trousers bound in at the ankles and a narrow, tunic-style jacket cuffed at the wrists and belted at the waist.

In the late thirteenth century Koryo, the kingdom that ruled Korea from 918-1392, became a vassal state of Mongolia during the Mongol Chinese Yuan Dynasty. Its twenty-fifth ruler, Chungnyol-wang (r.1274-1308), took as his wife a princess from the court of Kubla Khan and began dressing in Mongol fashion. It is said that within three years of his ascendance to the throne, every official in the Koryo court had shaved his head except for a patch of hair in the middle and had adopted the dress of the Mongolian plains people. During the short time Koryo was a Mongol vassal, three kings were born to Korean-Mongolian queens, which had quite an effect on the social and fashion trends of the times. The skirt (ch'ima) was shortened as was the vest (chogori), which was hiked up above the waist and tied at the chest with a long, wide ribbon instead of belted and the sleeves were curved slightly.

'picture from Hanbok by sunny yang'
The upper classes wore hanbok of closely woven ramie cloth or other high-grade lightweight materials in warm weather and of plain and patterned silks the rest of the tear. Commoners were restricted by law as well as resources to cotton at best. The upper classes wore a variety of colors, though bright colors were generally worn by children and young girls and subdued colors by meddle-aged men and women. Commoners were restricted by law to everyday clothes of white but for special occasions they wore dull shades of pale pink, light green, gray and charcoal.
Both males and females wore their hair in a long pigtail until they were married, at which time the hair was knotted-the man's in a topknot (sangt'u) on the top of the head and the woman's in a ball just above the nape of the neck. A long pin, or pinyo, was thrust through the knotted hair of the woman as both a fastener and a decoration. The material and length of the pinyo varied according to the wearer's class and status. Headwear for men varied according to class and status.

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