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What better way to embrace Korean culture than by dressing up in a hanbok, the traditional Korean dress? I love nothing more than an opportunity to dress up and I jumped at the chance to wear a beautiful hanbok at Changdeokgung Palace, in the heart of Seoul. Just reliving the experience as I’m writing this article is making me miss South Korea so much more.
The hanbok dates back to the Goguryeo Dynasty, one of the Three Ancient Kingdoms that made up Korea. Up until about a hundred years ago, Koreans wore hanbok on a daily basis, whereas now they’re mainly kept for special occasions. The men’s hanbok consists of an upper jacket called jeogori and baggy trousers called baji. Women’s hanbok also features a jeogori top and a high-waisted wrap around skirt also known as chima.
Wearing a hanbok isn’t just something tourists do to add a special touch to their holiday. Because it’s a lovely way to experience Korean culture, you’ll also see locals dressed in beautiful embroidered dresses.
Seoul is full of hanbok rental places and I found one near Changdeokgung Palace. If you decide to dress up in a hanbok, you’ll also gain free entry to any palace you visit!
Picking my hanbok was so much fun. Stepping into the shop, I was super excited to see all of the pretty designs. I browsed the rails for my height (a tiny 5’2”) and immediately fell in love with an elegant cherry blossom skirt. The helpful shop owner came over to assist me with finding a top. I opted for something in a complementing colour.
Leaving my belongings in the free lockers in the shop, I changed into my outfit with the help of staff in the fitting room. First, a delicate petticoat was layered underneath to give my outfit a voluminous shape, then the hanbok skirt went over my head and was tied securely under my arms. Next, staff helped me tie the top across my chest. Unlike when I had a geisha makeover in Gion, Kyoto, wearing a hanbok was much more comfortable to wear!
I chose a pink bag for my essentials (phone, camera, cushion foundation and my lip tint). There’s also an option to have your hair done in a traditional style or wear a hat, also known as jeonmo. Considering it was extremely hot and sunny outside it may come as no surprise that I opted for the latter. Anything to protect my face in the sun, right? In total, my hanbok rental cost approximately 30,000 won (approximately £20) for just over two hours.
During my hanbok experience, I was delighted to be stopped by a group of children on a school trip also dressed in hanbok. Gathering around me, they asked if they could take a photograph with me. I was honoured to have photographs taken with them! I highly recommend getting dressed up in a hanbok for an unforgettable Korean experience.
For more style inspiration from Seoul, why not check out my Look of the Week inspired by my favourite Korean drama, Goblin?