Lunar New Year Special: Do You Know Your Hanbok?

The Lunar New Year (Seollal) is one of the major holidays in Korea, and as such, it’s one of the few occasions when people might wear the traditional national garment known as hanbok.

For women, the hanbok consists of a jeogori (a jacket, usually cropped below the bustline and held together with a tie), and a chima (a long skirt that ties around the bust and billows out in a full shape). For men, the hanbok also consists of a jeogori, worn longer than the women’s style, paired with full pants called baji. Both men and women may wear the hanbok with clothing such as vests or overcoats, and they might also accessorize with various headgear and accessories.

The hanbok is thought to be shown to its greatest advantage when in movement, as the stiff-seeming layers give way to reveal a fluidity and gracefulness of shape and line.

lee young aelee young ae 2

Lee Young Ae’s gorgeous February 2014 editorial for Marie Claire. 

Now we will take a look at some of the common styles of hanbok you may have seen in photos and on TV, although please keep in mind that this is in no way a remotely comprehensive overview. With that said, let’s get started!

Modern Traditional

When you think of hanbok, you probably think of women and men in brightly-colored, loose-fitting silk garments, possibly with accents such as rainbow-striped sleeves or floral patterns stamped in gold leaf. That’s the type that Korean people own today — if they own one at all, as many don’t. Although it’s strange to think of hanbok having seasonal trends, considering that Koreans will typically keep and wear the same ones for years on end, indeed hanbok designers will announce the latest trends in patterns, fabrics, and colors, just the same as any other clothing designer. Let’s take a look below at some of the modern traditional hanbok worn by our favorite K-Pop artists!

Girls’ Generation

girls generation

A Pink


Note the colorful norigae ornaments hung from the skirt. They are worn not only as fashion accessories, but also as good-luck charms. We guess they worked well for A Pink, whose popularity has skyrocketed in the past few years!



The boys are wearing nicely coordinated three-piece sets including a vest called a baeja. SHINee is known for their awesome fashion sense, so no reason it shouldn’t extend to nice-looking hanbok as well!



Always true to her tomboy style, Amber is wearing a man’s hanbok.







Big Bang’s Seungri and Daesung




Not finished! Click the next page to see lovely examples of celebrities wearing fusion hanbok!

Modern Fusion

Some modern hanbok designers have updated the traditional garment to fit today’s standards of fashion. Often, this attempt is made by removing the jeogori and turning the hanbok into a sexy sleeveless dress. Other times, the jeogori is modified to resemble a Western-style jacket, and the chima is cropped and turned into a cute short skirt. In some cases, the only resemblance these fusion hanbok share with their traditional counterparts is the usage of silk printed with traditional patterns.


fx fusion

Crayon Pop


Crayon Pop’s hanbok are relatively traditional, but those cute little headpieces definitely are not. (At least they’re not helmets.)







Last but not least, click the next page to see historical hanbok as seen in sageuk dramas!


You might be struck at the differences between the contemporary style that we consider the traditional hanbok, and the various hanbok seen in historical dramas (sageuk). Although the basic pieces of the hanbok have remained the same throughout hundreds of years, the styles have changed quite drastically. Not only was each era was marked by different trends, but various colors, patterns, fabrics, and ornaments would be worn depending on your social rank, occupation, age, and more.

Despite all these variations, what you probably won’t see in sageuk are the multi-colored, super-saturated neons and pastels that dominate today’s styles — with some notable exceptions, earlier color combinations tended to be more restrained.

Kim Bum

kim bum

Ha Ji Won

ha ji won

Ha Ji Won played the famed court entertainer Hwang Jin Yi. As a gisaeng, Ha Ji Won’s hanbok is accordingly brightly colored and ornamented, with a voluminous wig to attract even more attention. For another variation on the look, check out Song Hye Gyo’s hanbok below. She also played Hwang Jin Yi in a movie.

Moon Geun Young

moon geun young

Lee Jun Ki

lee jun ki

This transparent hat is called gat. The fine black horsehair version that is so commonly seen in dramas was worn only by upper-class men during the Joseon period. Common men could wear a rougher version made of bamboo.

Shin Min Ah

shin min ah 

Song Hye Gyo

song hye gyo

Kim Soo Hyun

kim soo hyun

The intricate gold dragon panel was a mark of the royal family. Typically, the emperor wore a scarlet robe, although he could change into business or travel attire, like Kim Soo Hyun here.

Song Joong Ki

song joong ki

Park Yoochun

micky yoochun

Lee Seung Gi

lee seung gi

Lee Young Ae

lee young ae

Kim Tae Hee

kim tae hee jang ok jung

Park Min Young

park min young

That’s it for now, but please let us know if you have some information you’d like us to add! Which hanbok style is your favorite? Which is your least favorite?

How does this article make you feel?


Please login to Soompi to join the conversation!

Similar Articles