Underwear was thought to exist only in white half a century ago, but now it comes in all the colors of the rainbow in a market that has grown to W1.2 trillion over the period (US$1=W1,249).
And since underwear sales are highly sensitive to economic changes, they are used as an economic indicator. Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, has said when sales of men's underwear go up, it means the economy is recovering. This is called Greenspan's manty index.
According to a recent survey carried out by online shopping mall Gmarket for the Chosun Ilbo, women tend to hold utilitarian views about underwear while men prefer women to wear sexy underwear. The survey polled 1,675 men and 1,690 women in their 20s to 40s between Aug. 28 and 31.
A poll of 109 staff at underwear brand Vivien rendered similar results, with 45.4 percent of women preferring underwear made of 100 percent cotton, 18.4 percent lace, 14.8 sexy black and 10.5 percent leopard-patterned.
But among men, 22.8 percent of men said they prefer sexy black underwear, followed by cotton with 21.9 percent, lace with 19.4 percent and the partner look with 14.5 percent.
While 54 percent of men said they liked g-strings because they look sexy, 72.2 percent of women disliked them because they are embarrassing as well as uncomfortable. Sixty percent of men were in favor of sexy underwear partially revealed outside, but 52 percent of women were against it.