Hanbok embodies age-old philosophies

There is perhaps no other artifact that captures the richness of Korean cultural heritage as well as Korean traditional attire, known as hanbok. While the origins of hanbok can be traced back millennia to the ethnic origins of the Korean hanbok drawing people, historical records in the form of murals painted during the early period of the Goguryeo Kingdom (37 B.C.–A.D. 668) show that Koreans began to wear a modern form of hanbok as early as the fourth century B.C.

The basic design of hanbok comprises of twopieces, an upper and lower garment. The upper garment, the jeogori, is a bolero blouse-like jacket worn by both women and men. For the lower garment, women wear a chima, a full-blown skirt that reaches past the ankles, and men wear a baji, a pair of roomy trousers. On top of these basic garments, a wide variety of accessories and outerwear can be worn for different seasons and different occasions.

What is most astonishing about hanbok is the way in which its form and design have been preserved, despite a time lapse of two thousand years. While the particular style and specific length have undergone changes over the years, the basic appearance of hanbok has stayed intact. In looking at Goguryeo period murals dating from the fourth century B.C., one will see an uncanny resemblance to the hanbok being worn on the streets of modern Seoul.