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“Hanbok” is a collective term for traditional clothing and has remained more or less the same over the past 1,600 years. The slight changes over time include the material, preferred colors, and the length of the skirt or jacket.

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The hanbok was original designed for the ease of movement. The fundamental structure includes the jeogori (jacket), baji (pants), and the chima (skirt).

There are different types of hanbok that can be for either ceremonial or every day dress. Further classifications include gender, age, and season. The jacket for the women’s hanbok needs to be put on one arm at a time, makes the upper body look very small, and the skirt makes the lower body look very full. The cut and drape can complement many different types of bodies.

Colorful children’s hanbok on display at a market
Children’s hanboks on display at a market.

Traditionally, the different colors of the hanbok symbolized social position and marital status. Bright colors were typically saved for children and girls. The more muted hues were for middle aged men and women. If you were an unmarried women, you would wear yellow jeogori and red chima. Matrons wore green and red. Women with sons would wear navy. Upper class wore a variety of colors and commoners were required to wear white with different shades of pale pink, light green, and grey/charcoal.

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