Jules Does

Jules Does K-Pop Academy Homework: Designing a K-Pop Academy Hanbok

Posted on: November 14, 2014

Korean-Canadian actress Sandra Oh modelling modern hanbok by designer Kim Me Hee for Nuvo magazine, Spring 2008.

After the thrill of trying on hanbok last Saturday, we had a range of homework options, each of which involved looking at Korean fashion. I chose to design a K-Pop Academy hanbok, despite the fact that I am not so hot at the art (see earlier homework posts), and although some of the other options looked a little more essay-based (and therefore much more my style) I thought it would be good to push my boundaries a little.

So, what should a K-Pop Academy hanbok look like? Based on what we had learned on Saturday, I knew that there were several key features I needed to include:

  • Ritually significant colours and colour combinations.
  • Traditional shapes.
  • Fastenings on the right-hand side.
  • Chima and jeoguri for women (as well as possibly a dang-ui), and baji, jeoguri and durumagi for men.

From my experience of the K-Pop Academy itself, I wanted to include:

  • Colours fitting with the K-Pop Academy colour scheme.
  • A sense of British-Korean fusion.

Rather than draw the hanbok, I decided to make the clothing 3D through paper folding! I would call it origami, but because I used scissors I don’t feel I can really claim that title. Paper folding is an art form in Korea, as it is in Japan, and you can often buy little folded-paper hanbok to send to people or to frame. I had two especially helpful sources when doing my paper folding, one for making women’s hanbok, the other for men’s:

Women’s hanbok:

Men’s hanbok (much, much harder than women’s):

Rather than use pre-coloured origami paper, which would throw off my design scheme, I decided to use printer paper cut into 15 cm x 15 cm squares. Less glamourous and forgiving, yes, but blessedly blank.

Here’s my end result!

My version of the K-Pop Academy hanbok.

My version of the K-Pop Academy hanbok.

I took inspiration from the royal clothes we looked at last week and put round designs on the shoulders of both outfits. The symbols represent the taeguk on the flag of South Korea, which itself symbolises harmony and balance. I put blue, white and red stripes on the arms of both outfits to make them look lucky (like the stripes on children’s garments, since so many of our members are so young) and because both colours are present in the UK and SK flags, but also because I thought it made them look a little bit like military planes, a reference to Britain’s involvement in the Korean War.

A close up of the women's hanbok.

A close up of the women’s hanbok.

The blue dot, red vertical line and yellow horizontal line are the logo of the Korean Cultural Centre UK, and I thought they provided a simple pattern to cover the larger areas (i.e. the skirt of the jacket and of the chima). Obviously if this were a real hanbok, the patterns would be woven in, rather than painted or printed on. The hanbok I wore last week had patterns woven into the ribbon used to fasten the dang-ui, so I replicated that style here, with the ribbons reading ‘6th K-Pop Academy’. I used black to help the letters stand out as well as in reference to the black elements of the South Korean flag. I used yellow on the necklines of the jeoguri rather than the traditional white because it’s more normal in the West to wear colour closer to the face and neckline, although personally I prefer the simple white neck on traditional hanbok.


A close-up of the men’s hanbok.

The hanbok are, of course, mostly white in colour. White symbolises the Western direction, and Blue represents the East, which I intended to convey the fact that we are Western people learning about and enjoying an Eastern culture. All of the Ohaeng colours are included (yellow for centre, black for North, red for South), which symbolises unity among all people, particularly through shared enthusiasms such as the one that has brought the K-Pop Academy together.

I think the simple patterns and traditional design combine to make a straight-forward hanbok which retains its Korean identity while still having distinct UK and K-Pop Academy references.

I hope you enjoyed my foray into hanbok fashion design! What do you think I could have done better? Let me know in the comments.


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