While the Republic of Korea is now as modern as the U.S., traditional clothing is often still worn during holiday celebrations.
Traditional Korean clothing is called 한복 (pronounced, “hahn boke” with the last syllable rhyming with “poke”). The style of hanbok most people think of today dates back to the Joseon Dynasty, although the style did go through major changes during the 20th century to make it more practical.
Traditional women’s hanbok consists of jeogori, which is a shirt or a jacket, and chima, which is a wrap-around skirt that is usually worn full. A man’s hanbok consists of jeorgori (jacket) and baggy pants that are called baji.
Of course, in the past the everyday dress of Koreans was the hanbok. The hanbok of the upper classes were colorful, with children dressed in bright colors and older men and women dressed in more subdued colors. Commoners were required by law to wear only white hanbok, although they could wear pales colors for special occasions. The fact that most Koreans wore white hanbok earned them the name “white-clothed people” or “the people in white” and the color white has come symbolize the Korean people.
Now hanbok are considered more of a semi-formal or formal type dress reserved for special occasions. Children will wear them for their first birthday celebration. And families will dress in hanbok to celebrate Chuseok, Seollal, and weddings.