A Guide to Joseon Hairstyles and Headgears

I think it’s about time to edit this post to add several types of other hairstyles and headgears. The hairstyles and headgears used during Joseon Dynasty were from the dynasties preceding it  such as Three Kingdoms Period and Goryeo Dynasty and also with influence from China’s dynasties. Here’s a post to list down mostly, if not all, the hats, headgears, and ornaments worn by the Joseon people. With reference to the dramas, I think it will be easier for us to see how the headgears and hairstyles look like.

There are several hairstyles that dated back to dynasties before Joseon Dynasty and continued to be widely used among the Joseon people. As women were more particular about their beauty, there were more variety of women’s hairstyles compared to the men. Some of the hairstyles here had other names but I just took the common names to be used in this post.

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Eoyeo meori (어여머리): The hairstyle for the female members of the royal family who were staying inside the palace after the marriage such as the queens consort and queens dowager. It involved several important parts: the wig to make the halo around the head of the wearer, som jokduri as a headrest, maegae daenggi to hold the wig in place, and tteoljam to adorn the wig.

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Cheopji meori (첩지머리): Another hairstyle for the women of the palace, except that it was worn by the royal women as well as the high ranking court ladies and the government officers’ wives. The name was derived from the main ornament for this style, cheopji.  The wearer of this style would tie the hair into a bun behind. Ornamental hairpins such as yongjam, bongjam, and cheopji were worn according to the wearer’s rank.

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Tteoguji meori (떠구지머리): This hairstyle was reserved for special ceremonies and worn by the queens, royal concubines, royal consorts, and high ranking court ladies. It consisted of the wig shaped around the head just like the eoyeo meori style and – as the name suggested –  tteoguji. Tteoljam was also worn with this hairstyle but only the royal women could wear the ornament on the wig. It is also known as keun meori (큰머리).

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Daesu meori (대수머리): With the heavy daesu as the main headgear for the hairstyle, it was reserved for the royal consorts, especially the queens and crown princesses for special ceremonies such as wedding. The hairstyle was worn with the lavish jeokui.

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Saeng meori (생머리): A hairstyle for the younger court ladies such as saenggaksi (young court ladies around 9-14 years old) and nain (slightly older court ladies before they were raised to the rank of sanggung). The hair was parted into several parts and it was braided and folded. The number of parts depended on the departments in which the court ladies worked: jimil nain had four parts while chimbang and sukbang nain had their hair divided into two parts. The daenggi for this hairstyle depended on the number of parts too: negadak daenggi for the four-part (네 – ne = four, 가닥 – gadak = the part of hair) and dugadak daenggi for two-part ( 두 – du = two) saeng meori.

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Badukpan meori (바둑판머리): A hairstyle for girls around 3-4 years old. A part of hair on each side of the hair were made into small braids and then combined with the main braid on the back of the head. Baetssi daenggi was worn on the parted hair and daenggi was tied near the end of the main braid.

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Sangtu (상투): This was the ordinary hairstyle for the men of the Joseon Dynasty, especially among the noblemen and the scholars. The hair was pulled into a topknot and a headband, manggeon, was used to hold the hair in place. Manggeon was also used to hold the headgears in place. The topknot was a sign of manhood for the men since they would start to wear their hair into a topknot when they got married, as they used to marry at a young age.

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Minsangtu (민상투): It’s the topknot for the lower class men and its difference compared to sangtu was the absence of manggeon.

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Ko meori (코머리): Reserved for the married lower class women, it used the original hair of the women braided into two pigtails and pulled onto the top of the hair. A daenggi, most of the time red, was fastened on the braided hair.

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Eonjun meori (얹은머리): Wig was the main component of this hairstyle and it was popular among the married women to show off their beauty with lavish wigs. The gisaeng or courtesans also wore eonjun meori daily, adorned with hairpins and daenggi, together with jeonmo and noeul. The trend of showing off how big their wigs were proved to be deadly to the women since the wigs were heavy and after the usage of wigs had been prohibited during King Yeongjo’s reign, jokduri replaced the wigs.

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Ttoya meori (또야머리): A hairstyle for the women of the palace as well as the officers’ wives. The hair was pulled into a bun at the nape of the neck and the wig was used to make the bun bigger. Different hairpins were used to decorate the bun.

Jojim meori (조짐머리): When the wearer wore a cheopji with the tteoya meori hairstyle, it’s called jojim meori.

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Jjok/Jjokjin meori (쪽/쪽진머리): After wigs were banned from public usage during Yeongjo’s reign, this hairstyle was used widely among the commoners who were married as well as the noble women and the royal women. Binyeo was the most common ornament to be used with this style.

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Ttaheun meori/ Kwimit meori (땋은머리/귀밑머리): Also known as daenggi meori  (댕기머리), ttaeheun meori was the name for men’s hairstyle while kwimit meori was for women. This hairstyle was worn by young boys and girls before they get married. The hair was parted at the front and braided into long pigtails at the back. Daenggi was tied at the end of the braid. For the boys, they would wear hogeon while girl would wear their baetssi daenggi on their parted hair.

As for the hair ornaments and headgears, women had a lot of them compared to men, as always.

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Ayam (아얌 ) was a winter cap for women made from silk and made to be open at the top. It consisted of a crown covering the forehead and a long tail-like ribbon. I was also called aegeom (액엄).

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Binyeo (비녀) was a hairpin inserted into a bun to hold the hair in position as well as denoting the status of the wearer.

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Cheopji (첩지) was the ornament worn on top of the parted hair for the married women of the palace and the court ladies. Cheopji depicted the wearer’s rank and used to part the hair. The  wore dragon shaped cheopji; the queens consort and crown princesses wore nickel phoenix cheopji; sanggung wore silver frog cheopji; and the ministers’ wives wore nickel frog cheopji. It was also used to hold the crowns such as jokduri and hwagwan in place since both were worn on top of the parted hair.

Daenggi (댕기) was the generic term for all types of ribbons worn on the hair. The common colour for daenggi worn by Joseon people everyday was red, though in some circumstances, the colour varied from one user to another, and from one ceremony to another. There were several types of daenggi commonly used by the women and men, but most of them were for women.

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Baetssi daenggi (배씨 댕기): A small piece of ornament placed on top of the parted hair. The strings holding the baetssi would be tied behind the ears or combined with the main braid behind. It was worn by young girls before they get married.

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Doturak daenggi (도투락댕기): Also known as keun daenggi (큰댕기), which literally means ‘big daenggi‘, doturak daenggi was used as dwit daenggi (뒷댕기) or rear daenggi during wedding ceremony.

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Ap daenggi (앞댕기): A front daenggi worn by the bride with the long yongjam during wedding ceremony. Unlike deurim daenggi, it didn’t have the strings of pearls hanging from the ends and the patterns were embroidered with colourful strings. It’s simpler compared to the lavish deurim daenggi.

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Deurim daenggi (드림댕기): A type of the ap daenggi or front daenggi worn by the bride. The gold patterns were sewn onto the black/dark purple fabric of the daenggi and strings of pearls were attached at both ends.

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Mokpan daenggi (목판댕기): A daenggi worn by the maiden from the commoners. Its colour was usually red and had pointed ends.

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Jebiburi daenggi (제비부리댕기): It had the same pointed ends as mokpan daenggi but the difference that it had the gold patterns or geumbak. The princesses and high ranking noble women were those who could wear jebiburi daenggi.

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Tteoguji daenggi (떠구지댕기): It had straight instead of pointed ends and used together with tteoguji.

Maegae daenggi (매개댕기): A long daenggi which looked like several ropes tied together. It was used to hold the eoyeo meori style in place, usually placed between the hair and the wig forming the halo.

Malttuk daenggi (말뚝댕기): It looked like a mini version of doturak daenggi with straight ends but smaller and somehow simpler. However, it’s only worn by  young girls.

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Jjok daenggi (쪽댕기): It was used to fasten the buns of the married women when they used jjokjin meori style.

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Negadak/dugadak/ patip daenggi (네가닥/두가닥/팥잎댕기): Reserved for the court ladies with the saeng meori style.

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Daesu (대수) was a crown adorned with ornaments for the queens or princesses consort to be worn during special occasions.

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Dwikkoji (뒤꽂이) was a small ornamental hairpin used to adorn the buns or worn on the sides of the hair.

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Eoyeom jokduri (어염 족두리) was the cushion/ stuffed silk used as headrest for the hairstyle. Also known as som jokduri (솜족두리).

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Gache (가체) was a generic term for the bulky wig used by the women of Joseon. The price was high and it was considered a prized possession among women.

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Garima (가리마) was a kind of headgear made from black silk. It looked like a board because of its stiffness and worn by the female physicians or uinyeo (의녀).

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Hwagwan (화관) was a more elaborate crown for bride compared to jokduri, with more adornments and of course, more expensive.

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Jam (잠) was a more lavish hairpin compared to binyeo, worn by the upper class women and royalties. The name depended on the design: yongjam ((용잠)) for those with dragon shape, bongjam (봉잠) for phoenix. A longer yongjam was used by the bride during her wedding to hold the ap daenggi or deurim daenggi.

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Jangot (장옷) was a cloth draped on the noble women’s heads to hide their faces to the men. It resembled a longer version of jeogori with the sleeves and the neckline.

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Jeonmo (전모), the hat worn by the gisaeng or the courtesans. The frame was made from bamboo and the cover was made from paper or cloth with decorations drawn on it.

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Jobawi (조바위) was a winter cap made from silk, with a crown covering the forehead and the ears.

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Jokduri (족두리) was a crown worn by the women during special occasions like wedding. It was also called jokgwan (족관).

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Nambawi (남바위) was a hat that served as a head warmer during winter, covering the ears and part of the neck.

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Noeul (노을) was a thin silk worn along with a hat (most of the time jeonmo) to hide the woman’s face. It’s usually made from black colored silk.

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Pungcha (풍차) was a winter hat similar to nambawi but with additional flaps to cover the neck.

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Sseugae Chima (쓰개치마) was another type of cloth used by the women of the commoner class to hide their faces. It resembled a chima with its waist band part.

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Tteoguji (떠구지) was a frame made of wood and then painted with lacquer. It was worn behind the wig and differentiated between eoyeo meori and keun meori styles. It was also known as geodumi (거두미).

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Tteoljam (떨잠) were the ornaments of various shapes with fluttering metals worn with the eoyeo meori hairstyle. They were also called tteolbinyeo (떨비녀).

The men had fewer hair ornaments compared to women but they did have quite a number of headgears and crowns for daily usage as well as for special ceremonies.

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Aisahwa was a hat with  branched flowers awarded by the kings for the top student in the royal government exam. It was also known as eosahwa (어사화).

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Baekrip (백립), any hat that is white in color, worn during the period of mourning.

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Banggat (방갓) was a hat made from straw that is worn by the monks when they are traveling. Also known as bangrip (방립).

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Bokgeon (복건) was a conical shaped headgear usually made from black or dark cloth, worn by scholars or young boys.

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Dongpagwan (동파관) was an indoor hat worn by the scholars or the noblemen. It was made from either black fabric or horse hair. It had two panels on the front and back of it.

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Gat (갓) was an archaic term for hat.  Usually referred to the hats worn by the noblemen.

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Gatkkeun (갓끈) was the bead strings worn by the noblemen together with their gat.

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Gongjeongchaek (공정책) was a hat worn by a soon-to-be Crown Prince before his coronation or the firstborn prince, who would eventually become the Crown Prince.

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Gwanja (관자) was pair of buttons attached to the manggeon. Used to make the hats stay in place as well as depicting the rank of the wearer.

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Heukrip (흑립) was a general term for black hat with brim. The cylindrical crown made from woven horse hair and the brim made from various materials such as bamboo.

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Hogeon (호건) was headgear similar to bokgeon except that it has tiger patterns sewn on the crown. It’s worn by young boys.

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Ikseongwan (익선관) was the crown for the Joseon kings and crown princes. The wings at the back symbolized the high position of the wearer.

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Jegwan (제관) was a black ceremonial crown worn by lower officials together with jobok during major ceremonies.

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Jeongjagwan (정자관) was an indoor hat worn by the noblemen . Made from horse hair, it has several peaks.

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Jeonrip (전립) was a hat worn by the military personnel with a semi spherical crown . The decorations depended on the rank of the wearer. The size and name varied according to the region and it was also known as beonggeoji (벙거지), or byeongrip (병립).

Jurip (주립) was any kind of hat that is red in color. Commonly seen to be worn by the guards .

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Manggeon (망건) was a headband worn by men on the forehead to keep their hair in place. Made from horse hair.

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Myeonryugwan (면류관) was the crown for the kings and the crown princes worn during special occasions such as rituals and weddings. Consisted of a flat board with dangling beaded strings in front and at the back. The number of strings determined the rank of the wearer.

Princess.Man.E06.110804.HDTV.XViD-HANrel.avi_002785251Okrorip was a hat worn by officials during their trips to foreign nations as delegates. It had a jade ornament shaped like a heron known as okrojeongja.

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Paerangi (패랭이) was a hat worn by the commoners and farmers, made from bamboo or straw.

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Samo (사모) was a headgear for the officials. Some have a pair of wing-like flaps at the back, depending on the rank of the wearer.

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Sangtugwan (상투), the small crown used to protect the topknot. The men tie their hair into topknot while the boys braided their hair, just like unmarried girls.

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Satgat (삿갓) was the conical shaped hat worn to protect the wearer from the sun, especially the commoners and the farmers.

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Tanggeon (탕건) was the small hat made from horse hair and worn by men indoor or under their gat.

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Yanggwan (양관) was a ceremonial crown worn by the officials during important events such as weddings and national ritual ceremonies. Unlike jegwan, it’s gold in colour. It was also known as geumgwan because of its colour.

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Yugeon (유건) was a hat that was worn by the scholar of Joseon Dynasty. Made from cloth, most of the time silk.

The list is still not complete since there are several types of hats that I’ve seen in drama but I can’t figure out what their names are. If you happen to encounter those hats that aren’t featured in this post, do let me know! Let’s try to figure it out together, shall we?

Sources | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 |

44 thoughts on “A Guide to Joseon Hairstyles and Headgears

  1. Thank you so much! I’ve been wondering about the headgear and hairstyles and am now about to ask a bunch of questions.

    First, why does a jangot have sleeves?

    Second, The horsehair headgear for men: didn’t it itch?

    Third, in the dramas, the men never seem to undo their headbands or topknots: is that a truthful depiction?

    Fourth, what drama is that Sseugae Chima picture from?

    Finally, in Cruel Palace and in the King and the Clown, the royal concubines all had their hair done in big wigs like gisaengs: as minor wives/members of the family, weren’t they more than courtesans, so why not a quieter hairstyle or something less like a gisaeng?

    Thanks again!

    1. Sorry for the late reply, I’ve been dealing with my sudden addiction with Jang Ok Jung and growing interest in Yoo Ah-in. Heeee. I’ve looked around and got the answers for the questions. Thank you so much for asking! I also learn a lot from the questions 😉

      1) Jangot has sleeves because the veil was actually the jacket worn by the husbands when they went for the war. So it didn’t undergo visible changes and they must have preserved the tradition with the same design for the later jangot.

      2) No definite answer for this, but although the headgears were made from horse hair, tail hair of horse/cow, and even human hair, they went through quite a process, including colour dyeing and steaming to make it soft; hence the wearer probably won’t feel any sign of itchiness. That’s just my take 😀

      3) Didn’t found any article about men undoing their topknots but there’s an article mentioning about women washing their hairs only on certain days. So I guess it’s the same with the men.

      4) That picture is from the drama Painter of the Wind, starring Moon Geun-young, Park Shin-yang, and Moon Chae-won.

      5) The women of the palace back in Joseon only use the wigs for the halo and they didn’t shape the wigs so large like those gisaeng. I think the dramas uses those hairstyles just to give a fresh look to the characters as well as showing the beauty of their culture 😀

      Hope this answers your questions. Thanks for dropping by 🙂

      [ Sources ]

      1) http://www.docstoc.com/docs/23817724/Korean-society-under-the-Joseon-Dynasty-1392-1910-was-class—DOC—DOC

      2) http://jikimi.cha.go.kr/english/search_plaza_new/EMapResultView.jsp?VdkVgwKey=17,00660000,39&strGuCode=ZZ&strSidoCode=39 and http://jikimi.cha.go.kr/english/search_plaza_new/EMapResultView.jsp?VdkVgwKey=17,00670000,39&strGuCode=ZZ&strSidoCode=39

      3) http://nirc.nanzan-u.ac.jp/nfile/708

      4) –

      5) same as (3)

      1. Jang Ok Jung just got super-interesting, didn’t it? I’m not totally clear on how stuff, particularly status and relationships work (why isn’t Ok Jung a slave if her mother was, and how will her uncle become the prince’s father in law throu her, and will inhyun become a concubine now that she’s been rejected at the last stage, all for a start) but I can see the political intrigue develop.

        I’m going to watch Dong Yi to pass the time in between getting jang Ok Jung and cruel palace episodes subbed! 🙂

    2. Hi. Unable to resist answering your questions’

      3) If they undo their topknots, it would be like asking Sukjong (“Jang Ok-jeong”) to undo his 상투 and instantly be transformed to Moon Jae-shin. “Mane of glory” is not a pretty picture if you ask me…if anyone remembers “Hwang Jin-i” (2006), there was a scene where Kim Jae-won’s “hair” was undone…

      5) Usually, royal concubines, like the Queen and other older royal ladies (senior female relatives of the King, or the more older concubines who managed to outlive their royal paramour; married Princesses, if not visiting, are sent out of the palace to live with their husband’s family) should have their hair up 어여머리 style (a classic example is “Women of the World (여인천하)”, way back 2001-2002). Though your question, I think the production does that to make said concubine “stand out” in stark contrast to the Queen. But yes you’re right, still, concubines’ ranks are under the Queen, but that’s a different article (since I know about rankings concerning lower than the Queen)…
      —–
      Though as of late recent historical dramas (starting from “Dong-yi”, I think) now tend to depict all the ladies wearing both 첩지머리 (if you’re in the palace, royal or not) and 쪽진머리 (if you’re a yangban or otherwise), with no regard to the time period they were in.
      (actually, I just remembered, some older historical dramas, with the exception of the ’80’s MBC’s epic production “500 Years of the Joseon Dynasty (조서왕조 500년)”, tend to have the 첩지머리 & 쪽진머리, with “The Path of the Great King (대왕의 길)” having court ladies wearing 족두리)
      I have no arguments with “Yi San”, since Yeongjo reportedly have begun to restrict ladies wearing wigs, but it was his grandson Jeongjo who have laid the final verdict on restricting the usage of wigs, which in aesthetic taste were comparable to the Western world; citing as an example a new bride, who was greeting her father-in-law after the first night, who died of a broken neck due to the heavy weight of her wig.
      I remember Lee Byeong-heon PD (of “Jewel in the Palace”, “Yi San”, “Dong-yi”, “Horse Doctor”, “Heo Jun”, etc.) saying that the court ladies (mostly Yang Mi-gyeong and Gyeon Mi-ri)’ wigs were 2-3 kg heavy, and that they constantly experienced headaches.

  2. thank you for sharing this
    most useful
    i am also currently mad about JoJ
    Would you be doing recaps like incarnation of money?
    thanks!

  3. I’ve noticed in some dramas, soldiers wearing feathers in their jeonrip, like peacock feathers. Do the feathers denote a certain status?

    1. Yes, the jeonrip for lower level soldiers doesn’t have any adornments (feathers, beads, ribbons) except the tassel on the top. Only the high ranked soldiers or military personnel can wear the adornments on the jeonrip.

  4. I just discovered this site.How awesome.So many articles and questions answered.
    I really appreciate the time you have put into to this!!
    I got totally hooked on historical korean drama’s.I have now also moved to comedy and melodrama’s.All of them are fascinating .So much history.So much cruelty also….I guess in many ways, it was not too different in Europe in those days,but it is still quite amazing to see it so blatantly protrayed….
    The costumes are so beautiful! A meaning to each clothing item…
    The details and acting of these drama’s is very amazing.The actors are so educated…The emotional displays quite something! Tiny gestures,a look, a movement….
    Very beautiful….
    Thanks so much for helping us all out with all the details…

  5. WOW!!! So interesting! I really want a video of all these women putting on their fake wigs behind the scenes. must be very interesting!!

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