Friday, September 17, 2010

When do Koreans wear traditional clothes?

  • When do Koreans wear traditional clothes, like hanbok? How is hanbok different from traditional attire in China and Japan?
Over three decades ago, the hanbok, a traditional form of Korean clothing, was very much a part of every Korean's wardrobe. Like all clothing, hanbokalso has changed over the years with fluctuating fashion trends, undergoing many transformations throughout Korea's turbulent history. Nowadays, people wear hanbok only for special occasions such as weddings and traditional holidays like the Lunar New Year and Chuseok, the Korean Thanksgiving.

Koreans are dressed in their very first hanbok for their first birthday. Kindergarten children are sometimes asked to wear hanbok to their end-of-year school plays. Also, on their wedding day, the couple changes into hanbok after their Western-style wedding ceremonies, and the parents on both sides wear hanbok as well.

Hanbok differs from the Japanese Kimono and the Chinese Qi pao. The women's hanbok, comprised of a wrap skirt and a bolero-like jacket, is often characterized by vibrant colors and simple lines, with no pockets. The man's hanbok has roomy pants bound at the ankles and a short jacket. Kimonos, on the other hand, are T-shaped, straight-line robes worn so that the hem falls to the ankle, with attached collars and long, wide sleeves. They are wrapped around the body and secured by a broad sash called an obi, which is tied at the back.

The qi pao is a body-hugging, one-piece Chinese dress for women; the male version is the changshan. The qi paois stylish and often tight-fitting, with slits at both sides. Like the hanbok, the other two traditional garments are usually worn only on special occasions, but people still wear them more often than Koreans wear theirhanbok.

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