The History and Evolution of Korean Hanbok Fashion

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If you are interested in Korean culture, you might have seen or heard of hanbok, the traditional Korean dress. Korean Hanbok is a term that simply means “Korean clothes“, but it has a long and rich history that reflects the beauty and diversity of Korean culture. In this blog post, I will give you a brief overview of the history and evolution of hanbok, from its ancient origins to its modern adaptations.

Korean Hanbok Fashion

Photo by Wikipedia

Hanbok has been an integral part of Korean lives for centuries. It is believed that hanbok originated from the nomadic people of Scythia, who influenced the clothing style of the ancient Koreans. Hanbok consists of two separate parts: the top and the bottom. The top is called Jeogori, which is a jacket-like garment that covers the upper body. The bottom is either a skirt called chima for women, or pants called Baji for men.

Korean Hanbok in Kdrama

Photo by Pinterest

The basic structure of hanbok has remained the same throughout history, but the design and details have changed according to the trends and influences of different periods. Hanbok can be divided into four main categories based on the historical eras: The Three Kingdoms period (57 BC – 668 AD), the Goryeo period (918 – 1392), the Joseon period (1392 – 1910), and the modern period (1910 – present).

During the Three Kingdoms period, hanbok was influenced by the cultures of China, Japan, and other nearby countries. The hanbok of this period was colorful and elaborate, with various patterns and accessories. The Jeogori was longer and looser, reaching down to the waist or hips. The chima was also long and wide, covering the feet. The baji was baggy and comfortable, allowing for easy movement.

traditional Korean Hanbok

Photo by Korelimited


During the Goryeo period, Korean hanbok became more elegant and refined, reflecting the prosperity and sophistication of the dynasty. The hanbok of this period was made of silk and other fine fabrics, with delicate embroidery and ornamentation. The Jeogori was shorter and tighter, exposing more of the chest and arms. The chima was also shorter and narrower, revealing the ankles. The baji was more fitted and tapered, creating a slim silhouette.

Korean Hanbok in kdrama series

Photo by CollectiKult

During the Joseon period, Korean hanbok became more modest and simple, following the Confucian values and aesthetics of the dynasty. The hanbok of this period was made of cotton and other plain fabrics, with minimal decoration and color. The Jeogori was longer and looser again, covering most of the upper body. The Chima was also longer and wider again, hiding the feet. The baji was loose and comfortable again, allowing for easy movement.

Korean Hanbok in museum

Photo by The Korea Herald

During the modern period, hanbok underwent a drastic transformation due to the Westernization and globalization of Korean culture. The hanbok of this period was influenced by Western-style clothing, such as suits, dresses, coats, and hats. The Jeogori became shorter and tighter again, resembling a blouse or a vest. The chima became shorter and narrower again, resembling a skirt or a dress. The baji became more fitted and tapered again, resembling pants or jeans.

Korean Hanbok Fashion by BTS

Photo by Zoom TV

Today, Korean hanbok is not worn as everyday clothing by most Koreans, but it is still cherished as a symbol of Korean identity and heritage. Hanbok is worn on special occasions, such as weddings, birthdays, holidays, festivals, and ceremonies. Hanbok is also reinterpreted and reinvented by contemporary designers and artists, who create new styles and forms of hanbok that reflect the modern sensibilities and tastes of Koreans.

Korean Hanbok Fashion by BTS Jin

Photo by Kpopmap

Hanbok is a beautiful and unique expression of Korean culture that has evolved over time. It is a living tradition that continues to change and adapt to the changing times. Korean Hanbok is more than just clothes; it is a way of life that embodies the spirit and values of Korea.

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