A Glimpse into the Heritage and Modernity of Hanbok

Date Jan 12, 2023

Ara Art Center showcases traditional Hanbok and modern Hanbok uniforms from January 12 to 29


In celebration of the New Year, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (Minister PARK Bo Gyoon, MCST) will present an exhibition of traditional Hanbok together with Korea Craft & Design Foundation (Director KIM Tae Hoon, KCDF) from January 12 (Thurs) to 29 (Sun). Held on the 2nd and 3rd floors of Ara Art Center in Jongno-gu, Seoul, the exhibition will showcase traditional Hanbok clothing and modern Hanbok uniforms under the titles “Traditional Hanbok for Rites of Life” and “Work in Hanbok,” respectively. This exhibition is expected to offer a tantalizing glimpse into the beauty of traditional Hanbok and practical value of Hanbok workwear.

Traditional Hanbok for Rites of Life: A Dazzling Encounter with Tradition

“Rites of Life” refers to the ceremonial rituals that honor and celebrate each passage from one important stage of a person’s life to another in hopes of a smooth transition. The “Traditional Hanbok for Rites of Life” exhibition aims to bring visitors back to the true value and meaning of rituals that have gradually faded from our busy lives in the modern world embracing a Western lifestyle. It presents 10 newly developed Hanbok materials and 10 pieces of ritual Hanbok clothing designed by five Hanbok designers.   

As values have changed over time, the procedures and formality of social rituals have changed significantly as well. Yet, the earnest hopes and wishes that imbue each ritual still continue. To help visitors remember and reappreciate the dignity of the traditional Korean lifestyle, the five Hanbok designers have joined the exhibition. They include KIM In Ja (Dangchomun Kim In Ja Hanbok), YOO Hyeon Hwa (Yoo Hyeon Hwa Hanbok), LEE Chun Seop (Lee Chun Seop Master Traditional Costume Institute), LEE Hye Soon (Damyeon), and CHO Eun Ah (Cho Eun Ah Hanbok). For this exhibition, they have designed Hanbok clothing for five major rituals of traditional Korean life: the two coming-of-age rituals of Gwanrye for young men and Gyerye for young women, a wedding ceremony called Honrye, a birthday ceremony for an elder known as Suyeonrye, and the memorial ritual of Jerye. 


Harmony Between Prototype and Modernity: Korea Silk Research Institute Unveils 10 Hanbok Materials Newly Developed from Its Recent Collaboration Project

In addition, this exhibition highlights 10 newly-developed Hanbok materials, including Sa[1], Hangra[2], and Chunpo[3]. In response to the changing needs of Hanbok designers, Korea Silk Research Institute (Director JEONG Jun Seok, KSRI) has developed these novel materials through a collaboration project. The fabrics are adorned with patterns that symbolize luck and prosperity. Their entire development process centered on customization based on the opinions and needs of Hanbok designers from the early stage. Two accomplished silk manufacturers in Jinju, Dongmyung Silk and BJ Silk, joined in the material development and manufacturing process to produce these high-quality new materials. These Hanbok textiles are expected to broaden the boundaries of creative Hanbok design activities and revive the fame of Korean traditional materials that have lost their relevance. 

The “Work in Hanbok” exhibition unveils 25 types of Hanbok workware for the first time, which were all developed under last year’s Hanbok Uniform Development Project for the airline, train, and other transportation sectors and the leisure and service industry. The project’s design development phase was joined by five Hanbok designers, KWON Hye Jin (Hyeon), KIM Hye Jin (Hyeyum Hanbok), LEE Seo Jeong (C-ZANN E), LEE Hye Mi (Saimdang by LEE Hye Mi), and JUNG Hye Jin (Songhwa by JUNG) as well as GO Soo Gyeong (Costume Design at Kookmin University), who won the grand prize at the 2022 Hanbok Design Project Competition. Through meetings with end users in the transportation, leisure, and service industries and Hanbok and fashion experts, the project sought to ensure that the resultant uniform designs combined the beauty of traditional Hanbok and functional values.  

In particular, the exhibition will offer consultations on the related procedures and benefits to institutions interested in Hanbok uniforms. Throughout the exhibition period (Jan. 12-29), on-site consultations are available to any institution every Friday and by reservation on other dates.

MCST and KCDF have jointly developed some 150 types of Hanbok uniforms so far. They developed Hanbok workwear for those working in the culture and arts industry in 2020 and for those in the tourism and accommodation industry in 2021. Currently, 18 public agencies and municipalities have introduced Hanbok uniforms for their employees. They include the National Hangeul Museum, Korea Cultural Heritage Foundation, Sangju City Hall, Jangseong County Office, and Jongno District Office.

[1] Sa: A fabric found in clothing relics dating back to the end of the Goryeo Dynasty and commonly used for summer or spring and fall clothing

[2] Hangra: A knitted fabric with unique stripe patterns in the weft direction (horizontal) and commonly used for spring and fall clothing

[3] Chunpo: A fabric interwoven with threads of ramie and silk that boasts both the light weight and cool texture of ramie and the shine of silk