Cheaper Hanbok Flies off the Shelves

      September 27, 2017 12:51

      Affordable hanbok or traditional Korean dress is enjoying increased popularity ahead of Chuseok or Korean Thanksgiving. Young people without much cash to spare plumb for inexpensive designs that cost just W20,000 to W30,000 (US$1=W1,138).

      For the longest time hanbok was made from silk in specialist shops and could set customers back over W1 million. It was usually worn only for special occasions like weddings. But budget hanbok has changed this. Made with affordable fabrics, it is mass-produced in factories in Korea or China. A top sells for as little as W9,900 online.

      Lee Yu-ri, a fashion design professor at Seoul National University said, "Hanbok is a just type of clothing and a product after all, so having a wide range of options in terms of price can only help to make it more popular."

      Visitors walk in hanbok at Gyeongbok Palace in Seoul on Sunday.

      Budget hanbok is also popular with foreign tourists. A 22-year-old Japanese student said, "I saw hanbok at a really low price, so I thought it would make a perfect souvenir. I'm going to buy a few more and give them to my sister and friends as a present."

      Cheaper designs are sold in many tourist places like the streets around Ewha Womans University, Myeong-dong, and Gangnam Station. Budget hanbok has been a fixture on the streets of Seoul since 2010. Young people started to enjoy taking Hanbok selfies in royal palaces and other traditional tourist attractions.

      With increased demand, hanbok shops also started to make low-cost costumes for hire and started to have them made in quantity in factories. Some purists are unamused by the gaudy colors the cheap products come in, from gold and silver to neon colors.

      "It's a positive thing that more and more people are wearing hanbok, but with these cheap and less thoughtfully made ones coming into the mainstream, I am worried that traditional hanbok design and makers will disappear," said Kim So-hyun, a professor at Baehwa Women's University.

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