Joseon’s Court Attire: Kdrama Style (Part 2)

I can’t resist myself from writing another post about the hanbok worn inside the court during Joseon Dynasty, simply because of the awesome hanbok galore in Jang Ok Jung: Live in Love and Cruel Palace: War of the Flowers. Both sageuk portray the ladies as the main focus of their plots and just like the women nowadays, the female characters cannot live without the beautiful clothes and accessories. But it doesn’t mean that the male characters are left behind; they also have their own share of gorgeous hanbok shown in the dramas.

Jang Ok Jung E11.avi_001693059

Sageuk nowadays are not really rigid with the fashion and design of the hanbok. Actually, the design of the hanbok, especially the topcoats of the kings and queens, were also custom made back then. They were designed according to the wearers’ preferences but still following the auspicious patterns and shapes in general. A good example is the ceremonial topcoat for the queens, jeokui (적의).

Jeokui were the official ceremonial topcoat for big ceremonies or daeryebok (대례복). It was for the queens consort of the Joseon Dynasty and the designs were according to the queens’ preferences. Most of the jeokui from the dynasty were made from red silk but the official color was changed to blue with red lining on the sleeves during the later time of the dynasty. There was a jeokui pattern dated back to late Joseon Dynasty, with drawings of pheasants in pairs all over the paper pattern. In the sageuk, the jeokui worn by the queens are a type of jeokui, chijeokui (치적의). Unlike the jeokui with embroidery of pheasants in pairs all over the topcoat, chijeokui is a red topcoat with circular patterns on the edges of it, like at hems of the sleeves and the back side of it.

Cruel.Palace.E08.130414.HDTV.XViD-iPOP.avi_001341174Queen Jangryeol wearing chijeokui during her wedding ceremony, which is also the day she’s appointed as the queen. The jeokui has the circular dragon emblem or ohjoryeongbo ((오조룡보 – ‘five toed dragon emblem’) on the front, the back, and both shoulders.

The jeokui is worn along with several other garments and accessories. First is the big headgear called daesu (대수), which was made using the human hair and adorned with lavish ornaments. We can only imagine how bulky and heavy it was for the queens to wear the daesu until the ceremony was over O_O


I personally think that the daesu worn by Queen Jangryeol in the picture above is a closer representation of the daesu used in Joseon Dynasty since it is probably made from nylon that is almost the same as human hair but lighter. Most of the sageuk nowadays prefer the modernized version of daesu as worn by Queen Inkyung in the picture below. It looks thinner and lighter, although made from presumably nylon. Maybe it’s the different styles but they’re still heavy.

Jang Ok Jung E06.avi_000392092

The long, black sash on the shoulders with golden patterns is called hapi (하피), with bird-like patterns jeokgyemun (적계문) and circular patterns unhamun (운하문) decorated alternately along the length of the sash. A belt , hyukdae (혁대), made of iron and jade is also worn on the waist together with a sash daedae (대대). Daedae‘s colour was matched to the jeokui; if the jeokui was blue, the daedae was blue and for chijeokui, the daedae was red in colour. The queens would hold a slab made from jade, known as paeok (패옥).

Jang Ok Jung E05.avi_000851718Both King Sukjong and Queen Inkyung were holding the paeok

Jang Ok Jung E05.avi_000832699

In the picture above, the backside of the hyukdae, daedae, and hapi are visible. Do you notice that the blue skirt worn by Quen Inkyung is split? This is not the ordinary seuran chima worn by the brides. It’s actually called jeonghaeng chima (전행 치마), a blue skirt with golden patterns or geumbak at the bottom but the skirt is split into three parts. Jungdan (중단),  a white long jacket with wide sleeves, is worn underneath the jeokui and the only part visible is the red collar with golden patterns. The hems of the jacket are also lined with red fabric but the gold patterns are only put on the collar. The socks, cheongmal (청말) and the shoes cheongseok (청석) were of the same colour with the jeokui.

The blue jeokui was worn with a knee pad on the front known as pyeseul (폐슬) embroidered with auspicious patterns such as pairs of pheasants, jeokmun (적문) and flowers, soryunhwamun (소륜화문). A sash with long tasseled wide part on the back was worn also worn and it’s called daedaehusu (대대후수), a combination from the word daedae (the waist sash) and husu (the tasseled part). These two weren’t worn with chijeokui. King Sukjong is wearing the daedaehusu in the above picture.

Noeui (노의) was another ceremonial topcoat worn during Joseon Dynasty and it was reserved for the queens consorts and presumably the wives of the late kings, for instance the Queen Dowager, Royal Queen Dowager, or Grand Royal Queen Dowager. The topcoat was made from red silk with circular gold patterns all embroidered all over it.

Jang Ok Jung E06.avi_000341241Grand Royal Queen Dowager Jo is wearing the noeui while Queen Dowager Kim is wearing the hongwonsam

Wonsam (원삼) is the ceremonial topcoat for the women of the court and also used by the brides among the commoners on their wedding day. In the court, the colour coding for the wonsam was used: hongwonsam (홍원삼) or red wonsam for the queens consort, jajeok wonsam (자적원삼) or maroon wonsam for the crown princesses consort and the royal concubines, nokwonsam (녹원삼) or light green wonsam for the princesses, and chorok wonsam (초록원삼) for the high ranked court ladies or gungnyeo.   The coding was meant for the small ceremonies or soryebok (소례복) but in the sageuk, they don’t really stick to it, especially when it comes to the concubines. Even for the crown princesses consort, they usually wear nokwonsam instead of jajeokwonsam.

Cruel.Palace.E08.130414.HDTV.XViD-iPOP.avi_001383583Jang Kwi-in donning the nokwonsam while Park Suk-ui wearing the chorok wonsam during King Injo’s wedding ceremony with Queen Jangryeol. Both of them were Injo’s royal concubines.

Jang Ok Jung E12.avi_001685985Jang Ok-jung wearing a purple wonsam for a ceremony promoting her rank from Sanggung to Suk-won

Wonsam was also used as a wedding garment for the bride but unlike those wonsam for the royalties, the wonsam for the commoners didn’t have the gold patterns on it. The patterns were reserved for the royal family and the brides were only allowed to wear a plain nokwonsam. It’s the same for the court ladies and they only wore a plain chorok wonsam during the ceremonies.

Jang Ok Jung E11.avi_000033600Queen Inhyun wears a nokwonsam when she first enters the palace at the beginning of her wedding ceremony with King Sukjong

Cruel.Palace.E05.130406.HDTV.XViD-iPOP.avi_001693660Jo Suk-won wearing a pink wonsam when she first enters the palace as a royal concubine

Another difference between the concubine and the queen/princess/ crown princess’ wonsam was the concubine didn’t get to wear the circular dragon emblems on her wonsam since the concubines weren’t officially married to the king or the crown prince. However, all of the women inside the palace wore the same hairstyle, keun meori, during the ceremonies. The women from outside the palace would wear a crown known as hwagwan with wonsam when they joined the royal family as the king’s wife or concubine, just like a woman who is getting married.

Jang Ok Jung E07.avi_002569569

Dangui (당의) was the official jacket for the small ceremonies, soryebok. It’s different from the normal jeogori by its length and design. Dangui was longer and it had curvy, pointy flaps on both the front and the back. It was worn by the queens consort, royal concubines, crown princesses consorts, princesses, and court ladies as a daily garment since they’re living inside the palace but the people from the outside, for instance the the noble women who visited the court, would don the dangui for the visit.

Jang Ok Jung E03.avi_002279846Lady Min and Lady Kim wearing a plain dangui during a visit to the palace way before they marry King Sukjong to become Queen Inhyun and Queen Inkyung

Jang Ok Jung E11.avi_002640573Jang Ok-jung with a baby blue plain dangui when she first become a Sanggung by special appointment

The court ladies, especially the high ranked ones would wear a plain dangui, including the seungeun sanggung (승은 상궁), a court lady that has received the king’s grace, i.e. slept with him. The only difference was that the seungeun sanggung would not have to follow the colour codes for the ordinary sanggung‘s dangui. Some of the dangui for the seungeun sanggung were not entirely plain since they had minimal embroidered patterns on them.

The dangui for the concubines were more elaborate compared to the dangui for seungeun sanggung with more patterns on them. It also depended on the ranks of the concubines; the higher the rank, the more elaborate the dangui was. The queens consort would have the most elaborate dangui with lavish geumbak and not to forget, the circular dragon patterns. The crown princess would wear an elaborate dangui too since she’s the future queen of the country.

Cruel.Palace.E06.130407.HDTV.XViD-iPOP.avi_001331531Jo Suk-won wearing a pink dangui decorated with silver patterns

Cruel.Palace.E08.130414.HDTV.XViD-iPOP.avi_002122856Jang Kwi-in and Park Suk-ui both wearing a more elaborate dangui with gold patterns since their ranks are higher than Jo Suk-won

Jang Ok Jung E10.avi_003385494Queen Inhyun wearing a green dangui before she officially enters the palace as the queen and it doesn’t have the dragon emblems on it

Jang Ok Jung E13.avi_001778345The same dangui is worn inside the palace as her daily garment, with the dragon emblems sewn on it

dangui2The prettiest dangui is the one that belongs to Ok-jung. Instead of the ordinary gold patterns, her dangui have the patterns of flowers and leaves motif

Guk-ui was an attire worn by the queen during a ceremony known as Chimjamrye or Sericulture Ceremony, where the queen would lead the members of the Inner Court to feed and harvest the silkworms for the production of silk. The ceremony would follow after Chingyeongrye or Self-plowing Ceremony performed by the king. The queen, donning a long yellow robe, would encourage the women of the nation to get involved in the silk production as a mean to promote the economy of the nation.


Both Princess Minhoe and Queen Jangryeol were wearing guk-ui during chimjamrye, as depicted in the drama Cruel Palace.

The hairstyle used with dangui was eoyeo meori but with the royal passed by King Jeongjo, prohibiting the use of gache or wig, women of the court resorted to the usage of jjokjin meori style. The hair would be tied into a bun and various types of hairpins were used to decorate the hair.

Jang Ok Jung E11.avi_000593326Grand Royal Queen Dowager Jo (Queen Jangryeol) wears a gold dragon hairpin or yongjam together with a gold dragon cheopji on her parted hair and dwikkoji, the smaller hairpins

Cruel.Palace.E10.130421.HDTV.XViD-iPOP.avi_000914681Queen Jangryeol with a gold phoenix hairpin or bongjam and a gold dragon cheopji

Cruel.Palace.E08.130414.HDTV.XViD-iPOP.avi_000587053Jo Suk-won with a phoenix and bamboo binyeo together with a rose baetssi daenggi on her parted hair and the smaller dwikkoji on both side or her bun

Jang Ok Jung E12.avi_001813747Queen Inhyun wearing another variation of bongjam with a phoenix cheopji and flower dwikkoji

Jang Ok Jung E13.avi_001014247Jang Ok-jung wearing a gold bongjam with a dragon cheopji and pretty dwikkoji

Court ladies were given a cheopji when they were promoted to a higher rank, for instance sanggung. The cheopji was in the shape of a frog and it’s worn on top of the parted hair. However, in Jang Ok-jung, all the court ladies wear a simple baetssi daenggi instead of the cheopji. It’s a simple ornament with flower but manages to be the eye-catcher since the colour matches the colour of the dangui worn by the court ladies.

Cruel.Palace.E10.130421.HDTV.XViD-iPOP.avi_000338571A sanggung under Queen Jangryeol wearing a frog shaped cheopji

Jang Ok Jung E13.avi_000944944Court Lady Jo, a sanggung under Queen Inhyun, wears a dark green baetssi daenggi

Jang Ok Jung E11.avi_002994694My favorite is this blue baetssi daenggi worn by Jang Ok-jung. So pretty!

In Jang Ok-jung, there’s a part of the selection process of the crown princess consort and most the noble ladies who are chosen as the candidates enter the palace wearing yellow jeogori and red chima during the first round. In the final round where a consort is to be picked, the final contenders, who are Lady Min and Lady Kim, both wear green jeogori and red chima. The colors of the jeogori were used back then to identify the ladies’s status: those who wore the yellow jeogori were singles and those with green jeogori were counting days until their marriage or they were recently married. It’s more of a customary practice and until today, the bride will wear a green jeogori when they pay the first visit to her husband’s parents.

Jang Ok Jung E03.avi_003507407The first round

Jang Ok Jung E04.avi_003524958The final round

Just like their queens, the kings also has their ceremonial robes tailored according to their taste. Gonryongpo (곤룡포), the robe worn by the kings as their daily wear, were not only made using red silk: they also had many colours but might not be as colourful as their queens’ clothing. Sometimes, even the crown worn with gonryongpo, ikseonggwan (익성관), had its colour matched to that of the robe.

Cruel.Palace.E08.130414.HDTV.XViD-iPOP.avi_003439806King Injo donning a dark brown gonryongpo

Jang Ok Jung E07.avi_000772572King Sukjong wearing a blue gonryongpo

Cheollik (철릭) was a topcoat usually worn by the kings and the government officers during the early Joseon Dynasty but towards the end of the dynasty, the guards and the military officers wore it as their official garment. It has a pleated flaps on the front and the back, making it easier for the wearer to move around. The topcoat was a suitable garment for horse riding, hence the reason why the guards and the soldiers wore it.

Jang Ok Jung E04.avi_000437837King Sukjong wearing a dark red cheollik

I’m still trying to catch up with both shows but I’m just impatient to get this posted as I afraid that I will forget about the terms. That is all for now and if there’s any new things I find out while watching the sageuk, I will update this one or make a new one. Maybe there will be a part 3? Let’s see if the upcoming sageuk have some new things to offer, and I will gladly accept it!

Jang Ok Jung E11.avi_003406439Bye bye for now~!

sources | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 |

More posts about hanbok:

22 thoughts on “Joseon’s Court Attire: Kdrama Style (Part 2)

    1. May I ask how about the dangui for the gongju (legitimate princess) and ongju (illegitimate princess), do they can both have circular dragon emblem on it? Or the gongju are only permitted? Thank you

      1. Hello there!

        There isn’t any clear regulation on the usage of dragon emblem with regard to the princesses based on the Joseon historical records. It is only known that illegitimate princess of Korean Empire was permitted to use the dragon emblem on her dangui (based on the photographic evidence). So it is purely artistic license when the dramas or movies adapt the dragon emblem for the princesses.

  1. As always, I love seeing all of your pictures *w* I was wondering about the large head-dress for the empress, it is so massive and eye-catching O_O

  2. WOW!!

    Love this post…

    JOJ’s attire is so beautiful. Admire all clothes in this drama so much >_<

    Ah, I have a question, out of topic with this post actually….

    I just wondering, do you know anything about Queen Myeongseong? Sukjong's Mother? Like about her family background life? Or her real name? I really need all info about her. If you have any info, please let me know about that…

    Thank you so much ^_^

  3. GOD! it’s so fascinating to read your blog and the pictures on it are definitely beautiful. I love the hanboks on jang ok jung live in love drama. especially all the hanbok that belongs to jang ok jung. all of them are really sophisticated in the way itself. so graciously.

  4. I have a question to ask
    When the crown prince ‘s future wife is chosen what kind of hanbok does she wear and I have seen in dong yi the crown prince wears a silver pattern on his royal attire so does that mean his future wife can wear the same silver design?

    1. Hello!
      A future Crown Princess would be wearing the robes that are similar to what the future Queen would be wearing. The only difference would be the colour and the number of toes on the dragon emblem (4) depicting her status.
      She’d be wearing silk dangui during the final selection and continued doing so during her stay at the Detached Palace. Then, she’d have to don blue-black jeokui during the wedding ceremony itself before using four-toed dragon on her emblem with her daily dangui.
      As for the pattern: yes, she would be able to use the same design once she is officially married to the Crown Prince.

  5. did you ever write anything about the gold embroidery on the chimas?

    ive noticed the queen consort and dowager queen always has 2 rings of embroidery

    but the 1 ring of embroidery varies? ie princesses, concubines whove had a royal baby etc any more info on this?

    1. Hi there!
      I don’t think I have written in detail about the gold embroidery and the ceremonial skirt, so here it is!

      The ceremonial skirt with band of gold pattern or geumbak (either embroidered or stamped with gold leaf) initially only had one band at the hem of the skirt and called seuran chima. The colours varied from blue, navy blue, and dark blue, to red and magenta. The gold pattern depended on the status of the wearer: dragon for the Empress, phoenix for the Queen and the Crown Princess, flowers for the Princess, and auspicious characters with flower (subokhwamun – longevity, luck, and flower motif) for the noble ladies. For major ceremonies, the royal ladies would wear two seuran chima of red and blue colour, with one of them worn shorter than the other to show the gold band on the hem of the skirt.

      Towards mid-Joseon, there was a new type of ceremonial skirt in circulation: the gold embroidery was split into two bands placed closely to each other on the knee and became known as ssangseuran chima (literally ‘twin seuran chima). This would evolve into the double band skirt called daeran chima. Unlike ssangseuran chima, the bands of gold pattern were placed far from each other: one on the knee and one on the hem of the skirt. Daeran chima was also made to be longer and wider. With the emergence of daeran chima, it became the skirt to be worn with major ceremonial robe by the royal ladies such as jeokui and wonsam, while seuran chima was used as minor ceremonial skirt worn together with dangui. Seuran chima was also worn underneath daeran chima.

      Hope this helps 🙂

  6. Hello! Thank you for your articles, they have enlighted me so much about the customs and attire that we usually see in kdramas, they help me understand everrything that is happening under a totally diferent light.

    I wanted to ask if you had written an article about the attire and customs of the military back in the Joseon period. I have been trying to find information about the different types of Cheollik and other uniforms used in the army of Joseon as well as all the ranks and the responsabilities of each rank, but the information seems to be really disperse and sometimes not clear. It would be of great help if you wrote an article about it with examples.

    Thank you for everything!

    1. Hello Danny! Thank you for dropping by. Glad you enjoyed the articles.

      Regarding the article on Joseon military, I haven’t had the confidence to write a proper post since I’m still reading and searching about the various branches of the military in Joseon and the different layers of command. Even the clothing had differences according to their ranks, posts, and events. Maybe I can help to find some info if you have specific thing you are curious about.

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