After reading "Korean Alterations: Nationalism, Social Consciousness, and "Traditional" Clothing," I was surprised to see that the hanbok played a major role in the feminist movement in Korea. According to Ruhlen's article, the "new" hanbok represented Korea and the suppression it had to go through. It was a way of remembering history such as the "Cheju Island-inspired clothing" in remembrance of the Cheju Island massacres and liberation from Japan (Ruhlen 121). As a Korean-American and curious about my Korean culture, I remember asking my mom about hanboks and she told me that they were worn as daily apparel but were distinct from commoners and royalty and it eventually developed into only wearing fancy hanboks on special occasions today. For example, I've only seen my mom wear her hanbok on New Years day and Mother's day. Ever since my mom told me this and what I've seen in Korean popular culture, I've always perceived the hanbok as a national icon for Korea. So I find it interesting that the hanbok was also involved in the feminist reforms such as in the book's example of the Korea Sexual Violence Relief Center and other historic movements.
Even in Korean dramas, the hanbok has been heavily altered, which is understandable as it is a way to reach out to the younger generation. In Korean dramas such as Goong (Palace/The Princess Hours) and Hwang Jin Yi, the hanbok is a lot more colorful and fancier compared to the actual historic ones.
In Goong, the target audience are preteens and up and the story is about Korea's royal family- which is actually non-existent in reality since the Japanese killed them off many years ago. As a way to show Korea's pride, hanboks are frequently seen in this show, and a way to reach out to the younger generation, the main characters are seen wearing fancy eye-pleasing modern hanboks.
The Korean drama, Hwang Jin Yi, was an attempt to bring back a famous Korean legendary national story. The hanboks Hwang Jin Yi wears in the drama are very elaborate and decorative compared to the authentic hanbok. I guess this was another way to express Korea's national pride by expressing more beauty in these hanboks.
In a way, these dramas are involved in historic movements as well for the hanboks in these dramas still reflect the nation of Korea and the struggles it went through (in Goong's case, the royal family and in Hwang Jin Yi's case, Hwang Jin Yi's representation).
[Compact Challege update]
Unfortunately, I lost this Compact Challenge. Honestly, I forgot about it until I had to write this blog entry. I wanted to support KoreAm, a Korean American magazine, by buying one of their t-shirts...
- Hope (Hyeon) Nam
[inside source: Rebecca N. Ruhlen. "Korean Alterations: Nationalism, Social Consciousness, and "traditional" Clothing." In Re-Orienting Fashion. ]