Hotel Shilla Takes Flak Over Hanbok Gaffe

      April 14, 2011 13:08

      Lee Hye-sun

      The Hotel Shilla operated by the Samsung Group is under fire for barring entry to a customer who wore hanbok or traditional Korean dress. Worse, the customer was Lee Hye-sun (51), a renowned hanbok designer whose creations appeared in hit movies "A Frozen Flower" and "Untold Scandal."

      Lee was refused entry to the Park View buffet restaurant at the hotel on Tuesday. "I couldn't enter a hotel because I wore the traditional dress of our country," Lee said. "I was dumbfounded. It felt like an insult to our entire beautiful culture."

      Lee told the Chosun Ilbo a hotel staffer at the entrance of the restaurant said customers wearing hanbok or sweats are banned. Lee immediately called the restaurant manager and protested, but was told hanbok poses a safety hazard to other customers because it is voluminous. "I'm worried that this incident is going to be reported around the world," Lee said.

      Lee wore a creation made from soft, thin silk consisting of a white top and lilac skirt. Angered by the hotel's rule, she told her friends, and soon the incident spread through Twitter.

      The Hotel Shilla's website was filled with criticism from angry netizens, prompting the president of the hotel Lee Boo-jin to visit Lee's hanbok shop in Cheongdam-dong on Wednesday morning to apologize. The Shilla president is the daughter of Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee. "I am so embarrassed I can't even raise my head," Lee Boo-jin said. The hanbok designer said she is merely saddened by the way Korean culture is being treated.

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