Saturday, July 29, 2017

Traditional Costume of the Korean People; part 3 Wedding Attire

 Hello all, 
I decided, upon reflection, to do one more article on Traditional Korean Attire, about the Traditional Wedding outfits.

I find it sad that the Victorian white wedding dress fad is growing worldwide. It is supplanting so many wonderful and beautiful native traditions around the globe. The fact is that Queen Victoria wanted to use some lace that she really liked in her wedding, and so came up with the innovation of a gown of white for her wedding. She and her bridesmaids all wore white. This was the first time that anyone had done so, and it was widely copied. There is absolutely nothing traditional or symbolic about it. All the supposed symbolism was invented later.

Korean Wedding outfits are actually ceremonial robes that were once worn by the Royal Court. Permission was given to the common people to be able to wear these items once only, on the day of their wedding. These garments had their ultimate origin in the robes of Imperial China.

Some men choose not to wear the full outfit, instead opting for a less ceremonial one. This man is wearing gaht and cheollik. The Cheollik is similar to the Dopo [see part 1 of this article], but the lower part is made of a separate piece, and pleated. This outfit would be appropriate for any formal occasion, but he is underdressed if this is his own wedding; especially since she is in full regalia, although not quite at zenith.

 This couple have both decided to be rather modest in their wedding attire. He is clad in Jungchimak and Junbok, with gaht. This is slightly more formal than the above example. She is dressed in Dangui and Jogdoori.

 For the man, the most common outfit is called Samo-Gwan-Dae.

First he puts on the juhgori, baji and buhsun like normal. Instead of shoes he puts on low boots. 


  The robe is called Gwando [although Sunny Yang calls it tanryong], and is made of rich silk with an embroidered badge of rank, Hyoonngbae, on the front. The bird or animal depicted indicated the exact rank of the official. For weddings, it is most common to have two cranes, as cranes are also a symbol of marital fidelity.


 A belt, Dae, which  also indicated rank is attached to the robe. 

This combination is called Gwan-Dae. A black silk hat with curved wings, Samo, is worn with this outfit.

 Thus you can see that the name Samo-Gwan-Dae is a list of the various items that are worn.

Sometimes, in this day of Republics and Democracy, you will see bridegrooms going yet another step up the sartorial social ladder, putting on the Gwando of the crown prince, in some shade of red, with four embroidered Royal Dragon medallions.

 This is paired with a different hat appropriate to the rank appropriated, called iksunkan. It is taller than the samo, with the wings at the top.

 For the Bride, some opt for the minor ceremonial ensemble of Chima, Dangui and Jogdoori. This can be very striking.

 This couple is wearing a modern interpretation of the wedding dress. She is in Dangui, but not wearing Jogdoori. The effect is picturesque, but decidedly less formal.

 Jogdoori is a type of small hat originally borrowed from the Mongols. The simpler forms are no longer worn today, but for ceremonial occasions the lavish jeweled versions, called Hwa-gwan, are still worn. They are attached to a black silk ribbon which ties at the nape of the neck, under the chignon. 

Most commonly, the Bride wears the robe called Hwal-ot. First she puts on her Sok-got, [underwear], a lot of it, then elaborate Chima, usually with gold leaf print border, and traditionally a green jeogori.

Sometimes two or three chima are worn, with the topmost one made shorter, so as to show off the ornament on the ones beneath.

Over this is worn a robe called either Won-sam or Hwal-ot. The difference seems to be in the materials from which they were made, and in the ornament. The Wonsam was made of brocade, usually green, and might have some gold leaf printing. Both had very long and wide sleeves, with contrasting bands of color near the end, and a wide white cuff stripe. Here is a wonsam which belonged to princess Duhgon.

The front opened in the middle, and was fastened by one button and loop. The front and back panels are loose, the front being in two parts and the back in a single field, and longer. 

Here is another wonsam. This image also shows it being worn over three chimas, the topmost being made deliberately shorter.

 If you take another look at the bride from the head of the article, you can see that she is wearing a wonsam with relatively plain chima. She is also wearing a three part norigae hanging from the wonsam button and loop.

 The Hwal-ot is the same cut as the wonsam, but is usually red, which of course is the traditional color for weddings. It also has elaborate embroidery featuring a pair of cranes, symbols of longevity and marital fidelity, as well as peonies, lotus, waves and rocks, peaches, and pairs of other birds and butterflies. The sleeves have three colored stripes in yellow, blue and red, and a wide white cuff which is usually also embroidered.


 In some of these images you can see the Bong-dae, a 350 cm sash which was tied around the chest to secure the Hwal-ot, with the ends hanging down behind.

The hair is put up in the married woman's bun, and fastened with a large binyeo, or hairbar. Doturak-Daenggi, ceremonial bridal hair ribbons are attached to it, a large one behind, and a smaller one in front.

Here is a back view of a bride. You can see the hair ribbons, the chest tie, and the hwal-ot all hanging down in back.

Norigae may be worn with the dangui or even with the wonsam or hwalot. Considered especially appropriate are norigae featuring twin boys, eggplants or chili peppers. All of these indicate the desire for sons. Eggplants and chili peppers are both symbols of maleness.

Alternatively, pairs of Mandarin Ducks or Butterflies symbolize conjugal love and marital happiness.

And now you know how to properly dress a Korean Bride and Groom.

Thank you for reading.
 I hope that you have found this to be interesting and informative. 

Roman K.

I will close with some more images of Wedding couples. You should now be able to see what level of formality they have chosen.

Sometimes a white ritual cloth, hansam is carried over the arms. This is perhaps the older custom, and the wide white bands on the sleeves were derived from this.


Ok, this guy is just clueless. You never wear the junbok without a jungchimak underneath. Cheap and tacky! [see part 1 if you don't remember]

This woman has opted to wear the old ceremonial wig, Gachae, instead of the more usual headpieces. This went out of use in 1756, by Royal decree.



Source Material:
Dr Yushin Yoo, 'Korea the Beautiful - Treasures of the Hermit Kingdom', Seoul, 1987
Cultural Relics Publishing, 'Korean Folk Costume', Pyongyang, 1985
Sunny Yang, 'Hanbok - The Art of Korean Clothing', Seoul, 1997
Youngjae Kim, 'Korean Costume Through the Ages, Seoul, 2003
Yi Songmi, 'Korean Costumes and Textiles', Seoul, 1992
Zang Yingchun, 'Chinese Minority Costumes', Beijing, 2004
Korean Overseas Information Service, 'Korea Desk Diary', Seoul, 1982