The History and Characteristics of Han-bok and Hon-bok


Han-Bok traditional korean Clothes Historical Transitions of Korean Clothes

The Korean Clothes were developed according to the seasonal changes of Korea. In winter, the clothes were made to protect the human body from the cold weather, and in summer, they were made well-ventilate against the humid and hot weather. The social circumstance had effects on people's clothes and they  had worn different clothes according to their social classes since the period of the three Kingdoms.
Also, Korea and China influenced each other's clothing because they had lots of cultural contacts. Some small changes were added as the time goes on , but the basic form of traditional Korean clothes has been inherited.

The History and Characteristics of Han-bok

Han-bok consists of a blouse called Chogori and a pair of pants (for men), or a long skirt (for women). People wore a coat called Doo-roo-ma-ki for keeping the body warm or the ceremonial purpose.
The two-piece suit was the basic form of clothes of Northern horse-riding nomads as found in the ancient-tomb murals, and has been inherited till now.
The clothes reflected the social status, and people wore the clothes of different designs, patterns, and colors according to their social classes. For example, in the Joseon-Dynasty, the king wore the yellow dress, which represented the center of the Universe. The common people usually wore white-color clothes and that's why the Korean are called "the People of white clothes". Han-bok is characteristic of the subtle curves and a lot of blank spaces. women's Han-bok is composed of Chogori (a blouse) and Chima (a long bulky skirt). They wore several underwear's inside the skirt and traditional socks called Beo-seon.

Hon-Bok traditional Korean Clothes
Females put on a vest or a coat when they wanted to keep their bodies warm or went outside of home. Men's Hon-bok consists of Chogori and Paji (a pair of pants). They put on a belt around the waist and the bands around the ankles to fix the baggy pants on the body. There were also the vests and coats made for men.


Composition and Kinds of Han-bok
Clothes for men Men's everyday clothes are composed of Chogori and Paji. In autumn, they wore the Chogori and Paji made of two layers of silk, and in summer, one-layer clothes made of the ramie fabric. In the winter season, people put some cotton between two layers of silk to keep their bodies warm. When they went out or had to behave with decorum, they wore the coat called Doo-roo-ma-ki.
Clothes for women Female's everyday clothes consist of Chogori and Chima. They wore two-layered silk Chogori in spring and autumn, one-layer ramie Chogory in summer, and quilted or cotton Chogori in winter. There are two kinds of Chima; one is a long skirt of which the back is open, and the other is a short skirt called Tong-chima. They wore a vest to protect against the cold. When they went out , they also wore a coat.
Clothes for children Male children wore Chogori and Paji and female children wore Chogori and Chima. When a baby was born it was dressed in the clothes made of soft cotton fabric. Until babies were four years old, they were dressed in Chogori and Paji, irrespective of sex.
Male children around 5-6years old wore the various colored coat and older children wore the light green or light purple coat. Female children around 5-6years old wore the colorful Chogori and red Chima.

Ceremonial Clothes

Wedding Clothes Bridegrooms wore Chogori, Paji, and a coat called Doo-roo-ma-ki. Upon Doo-roo-ma-ki, they wore the ceremonial clothes called Dan-ryung, and put on a hat called Sa-mo. They wore the shoes called Mok-hwa. Brides wore the yellow Chogori and red Chima,  and they put the ceremonial flower crown on the head and decorated their clothes with pendant trinkets.
Mourning Clothes There were many kinds of mourning clothes according to the regions, social classes, or property, but the most parts of the complicated traditional mourning clothes have been simplified.
The family of the dead wore themselves in the mourning clothes , which were made of coarse hand-woven hemp, after they washed out and dressed the corpse.
Garments for the dead The dead was dressed in the clothes made of the natural fabric like hemp, cotton, or silk. Those clothes were made a little bigger than the size of the dead man's everyday clothes.
There were no knots in the dead's clothes, praying for the dead man's soul might  go to the heaven without any obstacles.
Sacrificial Clothes People wore a black coat and a black hat for the sacrificial rituals, which are held for worshiping the ancestors.
There were no particular clothes for women because they didn't really take part in the rituals, so women could wear any white or black clothes for the rituals.
One-year Birthday Clothes Male babies wore Chogori, Paji, and Doo-rooo-ma-ki made of the colorful cloth, put on the hat called Bok-gon. Female babies wore colorful Chogori and red Chima. Girls' hair was bound with a pigtail ribbon, and a little purse and pendants are hung on the their Chima for the decorations.
People gave babies the small bags on which the animals of longevity are drawn, praying for the babies' longevity and health.

Royal Clothes
Clothes for the king The King had various kinds of clothes like Jei-bok, Jo-bok, Sang-bok, Wung-bok, and Pyung-bok according to the various occasions.
Jei-bok was the symbolic clothes of the king and used in the occasion of sacrificial ceremonies and wedding ceremonies.
Cho-bok is the clothes for the morning meetings with the government officers. Sang-bok is king's everyday clothes, which are embroidered with the gold threads.
Clothes for the queen The queen had two kinds of clothes; One was the ceremonial clothes and the other was everyday clothes. Chuk-ui, one of queen's ceremonial clothes, is the most gorgeous and colorful clothes and the symbol of the queen. The queen wore Chuk-ui for the important state ceremonies. The common people could wear Chuk-ui once in a life time-only for their wedding day.
Dang-ui is the simplified ceremonial clothes. They were made of green or purple color for the winter season, and white for the summer time.

Chests and End Tables

Chests were formerly used to store precious festive garments and their corresponding accessories and jewellery. They are all unique and have a fascinating variety of drawers and compartments. Particularly attractive are the brass and cast-iron motives and fittings. These give the chests the exclusive touch. Today, these unique chests can be used in many ways; an eye catching piece in your entrance hall or a supplement to your living room. They can easily be combined with western interiors.
Each piece has its own and exclusive character through its individual fittings. Lots of symbolism lies behind the brass decorations. In old Korea, flower, bird or butterfly motives meant a joyous life and happiness. These symbols were mainly used in
women quarters.
Korean Chest


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This page was last updated May 2023


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