Recently reading the news in Korea I see an abundance of articles mentioning foreigners and foreign life. All of which is disheartening. Like in much of the world, being a foreigner in South Korea isn’t exactly easy. And being labelled as foreign, despite your legal status, for not being ethnically Korean or for being mixed race is common and done so with a negative connotation.
Being mixed race I have felt foreign in my native communities and now I am explicitly foreign in Korea and with Glow, I wanted to showcase the beauty of two mixed Korean girls embracing their Korean culture. Seeing them like flowers coming out of the soil that is just as rightfully theirs. – Felicia McGowan
History of Hanbok and Korean Style:
Over 2000 years ago the Three Kingdoms of Korea existed, in an area today that encompasses northern Korea, northeast China, and a part of Mongolia. The people of this kingdom were referred to as the Han (한). The word Han is a big part of the Korean identity. We say Hangul (한글 )for our alphabet and we call our country Hanguk (한국). That’s why the word Hanbok (한복) is very important to us, it literally translates to Korean clothing. It was during the Three Kingdoms of Korea the Hanbok was created.
Most of the Han people were nomadic, so Hanboks were designed to make movement easier. The Hanbok for women consists of a voluminous skirted called the Chima (치마)and a close fit jacket called the Jeoguri (저고리). For men, they wore comfortable pants known as Baji (바지). Traditional Eastern Medicine encourages one to keep your body heat for health and as the climate was cold, Hanbok could cover many layers, so often women wore Baji under their Chima.
Hanbok design took inspiration from traditional aesthetics. The sleeves on Jeoguri are reminiscent of the sloping eaves of our traditional houses called Hanok(한옥). A Hanbok’s design; the prints, the colors, and the fabric used could tell a person’s class, occupation, and marital status without a single word being spoken.
The structure and designs of Hanbok, have remained for the most part unchanged from its origins. The traditional Hanbok that is worn today is from the 19th century. Although today we rarely have the opportunities to wear this finery. Hanbok is reserved for special ceremonies and events such as weddings and first birthday celebrations know as dol (돌잔치). As the Han people become more western and the world becomes more modern, the Hanbok still reminds us of our traditions and past.
Photography: Felicia McGowan @effmcgowan
Clothing: Models’ own Hanboks
Models: Emanuela and Fatou
Location: Sky Park in Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Text: Jane Ergils @miniembassy
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Grow Editorial Photography by Felicia McGowan– All rights reserved.
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