Traditional Korean Clothing: Kdrama Style

I’m not being that productive nowadays, partly because I’m only watching a drama right now and my internet connection is still merciless to give me opportunity to watch even that single drama. With that reason, I am currently watching the dramas that I’ve watched before (only bits, I skipped some parts that annoyed me). I came across some periodic or historical Kdramas, which is also known as sageuk, and I’m thinking, “How about searching for some info about the clothing?” The colorful hanboks always make the actors and actresses look better, so why not gain some knowledge about them, even only by knowing their names? It doesn’t hurt anybody, I think. And another reason :  because I miss the actors and actresses in hanboks.

Before that, still recognize them?

The gisaeng-turned-fighter, and

the fighter-turned-gisaeng?

Let’s start our lesson!^^

Basically, traditional Korean clothing is known as hanbok. The term is used generally to describe the outfit for both men and women, so don’t get confused! What makes the difference between them is the parts of the hanbok.

For women, hanbok consists of two main parts: jeogori (저고리):the blouse-like top part, and chima (치마)the skirt-like bottom part. The fabric and colors used to make jeogori and chima depend on the status of the person wearing it. The royalties, court figures, and upper class people (yangban) use expensive materials such as silk and satin with bright colors like blue, red, green, and yellow. The middle-class and lower-class people always use cheap and durable fabric that can be worn for a long time like ramie, hemp, and cotton with light earth colors, for instance, brown, light blue, and green.

Hyo-Eun dons a bright-colored hanbok, befitting her status as Minister of War’s daughter

Yoon-Hee wears a light blue jeogori and blue chima

As for the entertainers like gisaengs and dancers, they don bright-colored hanbok too, fitting their roles in society as people who attract others’ attentions. Gisaengs, for instance, wear hanbok made of silk and satin that enhance their beauty with the usage of pretty and high quality fabrics. The fabric used for a gisaeng’s jeogori is usually of translucent type such as gossamer silk, which gives off a sexier vibe, fitting a gisaeng’s identity. For the chima,  one of a gisaeng’s usually made from silk material.

Jeon-Hyang donning a translucent crimson jeogori

Yoon-Bok with a translucent blue jeogori on while Hong-Do wears an ordinary brown (woman’s) jeogori

Yoon-Bok wearing a crimson jeogori during her disguise as a gisaeng (again)

norigae (노리개), a common, pendant-like ornament is tied to the jeogori’s string or waist of the chima to give a luxurious look to the whole outfit.

Jeon-Hyang having a butterfly-shaped norigae tied to her jeogori

Jangot (장옷) is a clothing used by women as veil to cover their faces. It is almost the same as jeogori and durumagi, but it is longer and it has collar. It is worn over the head, covering the head, body, and face.

Yoon-Hee with a green jangot around her body and head

Another type of veil, known as sseugae chima, is made like a chima,  but it is used as a veil to cover women’s face.

Yoon-Hee wearing a sseugae chima to hide from Seon-Joon

Jeon-Hyang is helping her maid wearing sseugae chima

As for men, they also have jeogori as a part of their hanbok. However, the jeogori for men are usually longer than women’s jeogori. They wear it with baji (바지), a type of traditional Korean pants. Sometimes, baji is also used as undergarment clothing for women.  Both jeogori and baji are usually of made of same fabric of light colors, such as light blue or white.

Lee Sun-Joon wears white jeogori and baji

Most of the time, men wear another layer of clothing on top of them, which is generally  known as durumagi (두루마기), or an overcoat. It was commonly used by upper class men for housecoat but only used by commoners as an outdoor cloth. Women also wear durumagi for special occasions.

Yoon-Hee and Sun-Joon wearing durumagi inside the house while Sun-Joon is looking quite scary here^^;

There’s another type of overcoat in hanbok, known as po (포). It is worn by scholars as their daily garment and government officers when they’re out for private business.

Yoon-Hee and a bunch of other scholars behind her are wearing po

Some men also wear baeja (배자) or magoja (마고자) on top of their jeogori. Baeja is a sleeveless outer jacket or vest worn on their own while magoja is an outer jacket with long sleeves worn with a thin vest inside called jokki (조끼).

Dol-Yi with an orange baeja on

For children, they have special hanbok for them. For boys, a type of po called sagyusam (사규삼) is worn on top of jeogori. It is usually paired with hogeon (호건), a headdress made of black fabric with golden embroidery on it while for girls, saekdongot (색동옷), a type of overcoat with patches of multi-colored fabric sewn together, is worn along with batssi daenggi on the hair.

The young princes are wearing sagyusam and hogeon; Shin in red and Yul in green

Little Geom is wearing maroon hogeon while little Eun-Chae is wearing saekdongot and baetssi daenggi 

Now, moving on to the endless type of hats, headgears, and accessories.

Most of the sageuks that I’ve watched before this must have featured at least one of the women wearing heaps of her hair on her head. I remembered those silly old days of mine where I tried to imitate that hair and hanbok using towel and blanket. Hum. As for women, the accessories worn by them depends on their hairstyles.

The most common hairstyle in Kdramas, known as ‘Daenggi Meori’ (댕기 머리), is a style where the hair is made into single braid and a large ribbon, known as daenggi (댕기), is attached to the end of the braid, thus earning the style its name. Only unmarried women wear this kind of hairstyle. Besides daenggi, another additional accessory, known as baetssi daenggi (배씨 댕기), is also worn on top of the head. Baetssi daenggi can be made of thin, cloth-like material or soft material like cotton stuffed into colored cloth.

Hyo-Eun wears red daenggi and baetssi daenggi

Eun-Hye with another type of baetssi daenggi on

For married women, they have another hairstyle, known as ‘Jjeokjin Meori’ (쪽진 머리), where the hair is brought to the back and tied into a bun behind the neck. A pin, known as binyeo (비녀), is used to hold and fasten the bun in its position. The design of binyeo reflects the social status of the person wearing it. The length also varies, depending on its function: whether for a pin or for decoration purpose.  Some smaller pins called dwikkoji (뒤꽂이) are sometimes pinned on the bun. Both binyeo and dwikkoji also have another function: serving as an an earpick (..oh). Also, people of the palace, such as royalties and court ladies wear another accessory, known as cheopji (첩지), on their head. Cheopji, unlike baetssi daenggi, is made of metals in the shape of dragon, peacock, phoenix, duck, bird, frog, or flowers. Some shapes of cheopji are restricted according to the rank, for instance, dragon for the queens and phoenix for the princesses.

Wol-Hee wearing a binyeo made of wood

Queen Min wearing a gold binyeo, a yellow dwikkoji, and dragon-shaped cheopji 

Sometimes, the married women also tie their hair into a bun and bring it to the top of their head. This style, ‘Eonjun Meori’ (얹은 머리), is quite popular too. Just like what in sageuks, wigs, known as gache (가체), is used to make the bun fuller and more impressive. At first, real hair was used, but there was death recorded due to too much weight of the wigs, so it was switched to  false hair. Binyeo, combs, and pins are used to decorate the gache. Because gache was so expensive, not many women could afford it, and this style were more popular among gisaeng. When they went out, they donned jeonmo (전모), a hat made of bamboo and paper, or cloth.

Jeon-Hyang wears gache decorated with hair pins and ribbon

Cho-Sun with her gache and her pretty jeonmo

For queens, king’s wives, and queen mothers, they use ‘Eoyeo Meori’ (어여머리) hairstyle, also known as royal hairstyle. Consisting of false hair, it is made into a thick braid and secured on top of the head, with the original hair showing in front of the false one. The braid is decorated with ribbon and a pair of tteoljam (떨잠), round-shaped ornaments with fluttering metals. The ornaments depict the person’s rank and position.In special ocassions, high-ranking court ladies also wear this hairstyle.

Queen Mother with the braid and tteoljam

Queen Soheon with the eoyeo meori style, together with tteoljam and binyeo

Finally, ‘Keun Meori’ (큰머리) : a hairstyle that can only be seen worn by people of the palace. It is the same as Eoyeo Meori, but it has an additional part called tteoguji (떠구지) that is added for emphasis. Originally, it is also made of human hair, but because of its weight (again), it is replaced with wood, carved and painted black to match the hair.

Chae-Kyung wearing the braid, tteoljam, and tteolguji for her first night ritual

Lee Seol acting as a princess, dressed completely with braid, tteoljam, and tteolguji

When winter comes, women usually wear a variety of caps to keep their head warm. There are a variety of such caps, such as pungcha,  ayam (아얌), jobawi (조바위), and nambawi (남바위). They differ in length and size. Some are lined with fur and decorated with ornaments and gemstones such as jade and amber.

Dong-Nyeo wearing nambawi without fur lining

Gwi-Dong with another version of  nambawi, lined with fur but without any gems

In-Kyung the widow is wearing a jobawi

Geum-Ok wearing pungcha, covering the ears and neck.

As for men, they only have two hairstyles : whether to bring the hair to the top and tie it into a knot known as sangtu (상투), or let it loose down, like what the two Iljimaes and Moon Jae-Shin do. But men have many hats to be worn with their simple hairstyle.

Rugged hairstyle of Moon Jae-Shin

Gat (갓) is the generic term for the hat worn by the noblemen. The most common hat worn by men is made of horse hair and transparent black in color. Not only it protects the sangtu, it also represents the rank of the person wearing it. The black hat is known as heukrip (흑립) and worn by upper class men. For commoners, a hat made of bamboo, known as paeraengi (패랭이) is widely used.

Yong-Ha with a transparent black gat

Sun-Joon shooting an annoying glance at his gat

In-Soo wearing a heukrip

Chang-Hwi wearing a paerangi

Iljimae wearing a smaller size paerangi

Remember those long, colourful string of beads hanging from Yong-Ha and other noblemen’s gat? It is known as gatkkeun (갓끈) or hat strings and not everyone has the chance to wear it. It is only restricted to the noblemen and the men of lower class can only wear the gat.

Sometimes, men wear tanggeon (탕건), a type of hat under the gat. It can also be used indoor.

The bookstore owner with his tanggeon on his head

Underneath the gat and/or tanggeon,, the sangtu is held together using a pin called donggot, and to keep the hair from falling, a headband, manggeon (망건), is worn on the forehead.

Sun-Joon a.k.a Yoochun with sangtu and donggot

Yoon-Hee and Sun-Joon wearing manggeon on their foreheads

Thanks to Karen, I found out another thing. There are a pair of small buttons attached to the manggeon. Depending on the shape, the name varies. Gwanja (관자) have the shape of  rings while pyungjam have the shape of half-moon. Both of them have similar purpose: they function as decorative ornaments as well as denoting the rank of the wearer.

In-Soo wearing gwanja

Yong-Ha and Moon Jae-Shin with gwanja, with Yong-Ha having them matching with his hanbok colour for fashion

Another common type of hat, satgat (삿갓), is a conical-shaped hat made of straw, is commonly used by farmers or monks, and mostly used as an undercover hat in sageuk. There’s another variation of satgat, called banggat (방갓).

Iljimae with a banggat

Kong-He, also wearing a satgat

For military personnel, they wear a special hat called beonggeoji (벙거지). Also known as  jeonrip, it is styled according to the wearer’s rank.

Iljimae wearing a jeonrip during his escape

Another version of Iljimae is wearing beonggeoji during one of his disguise

Moo Hyul with a jeonrip decorated with beads, fitting his rank as Royal Chief Commander

For Confucian scholars, they wear bokgeon (복건), a headdress made of black fabric. It later evolves and is used as a headdress for boys.

Prof Jung and Prof Yoo both wear bokgeon

For noblemen, they often choose to wear jeongjagwan, another type of headdress. It is usually worn indoor and consists of several layers, whether double or triple and has pointed ends. It is also made from horsehair.

Minister of War is wearing jeongjagwan behind the veil

Finally, the clothes for special ceremony and/or restricted to people of the palace.

Hwarot (활옷) is reserved for princesses for ritual attire. It is also used by noble families as a topcoat for the bride during wedding ceremonies. It is worn along with hwagwan (화관), a traditional Korean coronet and ap daenggi, a type of daenggi which is worn in pairs and hanging from a long yongjam, a long hairpin which has a dragon head patterin on one of its end. Ap daenggi is hung in the front, while another type of daenggi called doturak daenggi, a wider silk with golden patterns, is hung from the coronet at the back. Daedae, a red colored sash made of silk with golden patterns is worn around the waist like a belt and tied at the back of the hwarot.

A hwarot hung inside Princess Kyung Hye’s quarters alongside some dangui and wonsam

Mi-ho looking over at a bride wearing a hwarot, hwagwan, and ap daenggi

Eon-Nyeon in a hwarot, with a jokduri and a pair of ap daenggi hanging from a yongjam

Wonsam (원삼) is another type of topcoat worn by royalties, high-ranking court ladies, and noble women during ceremonies. The colors and decorations of the wonsam determine the rank of the person wearing it. For commoners, wonsam is another choice for wedding topcoat as hwarot can be too expensive for some household. Jokduri (족두리), another type of coronet but less elaborate in terms of decorations compared to hwagwan, is usually donned with wonsam.

Chae-Kyung with a light green wonsam decorated with gold prints, daedae, and a jokduri

Court Lady Choi with a dark green wonsam

Hyang-Dan wearing a wonsam with less decoration and jokduri. The daedae and doturak daenggi at the back are quite visible here

Dangui (당의) is a type of upper garment, usually worn on top of jeogori. It is worn by queens, queen mothers, princesses, and court ladies. The difference between dangui of royalties and of court ladies is the golden pattern on it, called geumbak (금박), that can only be worn by royalties. Geumbak is also put on chima that is going to be worn with the dangui.

Chae-Kyung wearing a dark green dangui, with binyeo, dwikkoji, and cheopji

For government officers, their daily clothes when they are out doing their official tasks is generally called gwanbok. It differs according to various ranks and positions of the wearer. There is also another type of clothing, known as cheollik, worn by kings and officers. Both gwanbok and cheollik is worn with samo (사모), a type of Korean hat and gakdae (각대), a type of Korean belt. Gwanbok is also worn by commoners during their wedding ceremony.

Jalgeum Quartet in dark green gwanbok and samo

Hong-Do and Yoon-Bok showing off their blue gwanbok and gakdae

Special for kings, their daily garment is called hongryongpo, decorated with patterns of dragon in gold. It  is worn along with ikseongwan, a type of headgear and gakdae.

The most handsome version of  King Jeongjo in a red hongryongpo with ikseongwan and gakdae

King Sejong, also with a red hongryongpo, ikseongwan, and gakdae

For special ceremonies, the civil officers will wear an outfit, jobok with a headgear called yanggwan.

Chae-Kyung’s father wearing jobok and yanggwan during her wedding

In-Soo with a yanggwan during a praying ceremony at Sungkyunkwan

For very very special occasions such as ritual and formal ceremonies like wedding, daeryebok is worn together by the king, together with the special headdress, myonrugwan. The queen will wear an outfit, whether noeui or cheokui, with daesu, a type of headgear. Noeui was worn during Joseon Dynasty but later, during the Korean Empire, cheokui was made by revising the design of neoui.

King Jeongjo donning daeryebok with myonrugwan

Yeon-Woo donning the noeui and daesu for her wedding ceremony with Lee Hwon

Lee Shin and Chae-Kyung during their wedding ceremony. He wears the daeryebok and myonrugwan while she is wearing blue cheokui together with the heavy daesu

For those who have seen episode 17 of Tree with Deep Roots, there is a scene where Sejong presents his drink to the best student of gwageo, or royal government examination, while the student is wearing a hat with flowers branching out if it. The flowery hat is a special one called aisahwa, where it is a reward for the top scorer in the exam. The hanbok he’s wearing is called aengsam and it is worn by students when they are sitting for the royal  government exam or for any official ceremonies of the government.

About the shoes and’s quite hard to capture it because it’s hidden under the hanbok and baji for most of the time. Luckily, my current addiction to sageuks makes me watch again Sungkyunkwan Scandal and I realize that it does have some beautiful shots of shoes. Now, let’s get to know them!


Beoseon (버선)  is the general term for socks. They are worn by everyone regardless of the social statuses for protection and warmth. Beoseon are made from white cloth. Their shapes, types and sewing methods differ according to gender.

Jipsin (짚신) is a type of sandals made from straw. They are worn by commoners, servants, and people going for outing (usually scholars). As they are pretty durable and affordable, they are widely used and chosen as daily footwear.

Hye (혜) are low cut shoes, like loafers and flats that we have today. They are many variations of hye for men and women. Women’s shoes usually have pointed fronts while men’s shoes have blunt fronts. One of the women’s shoes, unhye (운혜), are made from silk and decorated with colorful silk in shapes of clouds. As they are quite pricey, they are only worn by yangban women. At special occasions like weddings, commoners are allowed to wear unhye.

Danghye (당혜) are another type women’s shoes made from leather. They are decorated with scroll decoration. They might look similar to the men’s taesahye, but danghye have pointed fronts and have more color variations.

Taesahye (태사혜) are men’s shoes. Made from animal skin with scroll decoration and lined with silk inside, only the yangban men could afford to buy taesahye.

Heukhye is another type of men’s shoes, probably the most common ones after jipsin. They are made from leather and fleece, most of the time black in color. Officials, scholars, and yangban men wear them as parts of their daily garments.

Hwa (화) – general term for boots. Made from leather or velvet, they are usually black in color. They are used by guards, government officers and court members together with their official garments. Sometimes, hwa made from more affordable animal skin are also worn by those who have an active lifestyle, such as people who travel a lot and swordsmen (Think Moon Jae-Shin, Lee Dae-Gil, Kang Chae-Yoon, or Yoon Pyung).

Lee Hwon’s hwa is a little bit unique: matching red color with his royal robe and gold patterns sewn on them.

With the footwear section somehow covered, the mini lesson of traditional Korean clothing is now over! Yeay! But that doesn’t mean I’ll just leave this post like this. I f I do encounter some new things about them, I’ll just update or put any additional parts in the entry. If you have any inquiries about this, just drop by and ask me. Although I’m not that knowledgeable about it (and I’m not a Korean either^^;), maybe I could help you to find what you’re curious about. Thanks for spending your time to read this lengthy post^^

For more details about the clothing and the ornaments:

Image credit : me and various sites

Info credit : 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

176 thoughts on “Traditional Korean Clothing: Kdrama Style

  1. late Goryeo hanbok = The early Chosun Hanbok ^^

    is called ‘Goryeo wind(Goryeo style,고려양)’

    Goryeo style is popular in Mongolian Yuan Dynasty and early Ming-dynasty

    early Ming-dynasty picture

    after, Ming forbid Goryeo style.. therefore.. Ming returned hanfu style..

    +많은 분들이 헷갈리시는데….

    hanbok= top+ pants,skirt → because korean is horse-riding people……

    skirt →A shape, Wore Multiple layers of skirt
    dress swept the ground as walked…

    kimono, hanfu= one cloth
    skirt →straight line



    hanbok, kimono, hanfu like all ^^ respect Asia

  2. 고려양(Goryeo wind) 이야기는 많은 외국분들이
    중국(Ming)에서 건너왔다고 알고계셔서ㅠㅠ 적여드렸어요…
    한복역사를 너무 알려드리고 싶었고 잘못된 정보를 정정해 드리고 싶었어요…

    Traditional Malaysia Clothing is so beautiful^^

  3. Hi.. I’d like to say thank you so much for your article. I guess you do so hard to make this article. I watch some saeguk drama and I see there are some differences on traditional clothes depend on the kingdom. And I can read your explanation clearly in here.
    May I make your article as my refference? Because I will make a project which contain korean style in saeguk drama. Of course I’ll put your website as my credit also. thank you

    1. Hello! You’re welcome. Glad you find it useful. Go ahead, I’m okay with it as long you credit me. By the way, you can also check out the sources I listed at the end of the post as well as the other sources for the other posts related to hanbok. Good luck for your project dear! 😉

  4. I would like to know if there is an official name for the scarf worn around the forehead. I love that look, but can’t seem to find anything revealing the name. Hope it’s something more than “bandana!” LOL!

      1. Thank you so much for your reply. I shared your answer with my Facebook group. I’ve had them all involved in my search for an answer. LOL. BTW, we would like to invite you to join our “secret” group. We discuss kdrama and kpop, and we’d love to have you as a member. I think several of us subscribe to your blog. Please email me, and I’ll be happy to send you a personal invitation.

  5. Thank you so much for this article! I am watching my first Korean historical drama (Scandal), and was completely at a loss how to interpret the social context of the clothing styles and uniforms.

  6. I was wondering if you could make a post about what female shamans and the such would wear.the only women shamans i see in k dramas are in the moon embracing the sun.i cant think of another.

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