Traditional Korean Clothing: Kdrama Style (Part 2)

It’s been more than three years since the first post about hanbok was posted on this blog. Time does fly very fast nowadays, huh? After doing the introductory post, I also made several short posts focusing on the court attires and ornaments used during Joseon Dynasty. In fact, this was supposed to be the the third installment to the Joseon’s Court Attire posts, but I decided to change it into the second part of the main post, that was the Traditional Korean Clothing: Kdrama Style. Thanks to the world wide web and the never ending interest in hanbok, I have found more details about traditional Korean clothing and I feel that it should be shared with fellow enthusiasts about hanbok, especially those featured in the dramas. I still love to spot the ornaments and the attires worn by the cast, so for those who are in the same boat as me, this detailed post focusing on the court attires might be for you!

Joseon Dynasty was a nation that adapted Neo-Confucianism as the state ideology, embedding every single aspect of life with the philosophy. Attires were not excluded, as different occasions called for different attires. According to the Book of Five Rites of the Nation, gukjo oryeui (국조오례의), there were five ceremonies or orye (오례) which were considered the main occasions for the country, namely gilrye (길례) – ancestral and sacrificial rites that were considered auspicious; gunrye (군례) – military rites; binrye (빈례) – welcoming rites for foreign envoys; garye (가례) – celebratory rites such as wedding and coming-of-age ceremonies; and hyungrye (흉례) – mourning rites which were considered inauspicious.

Each of these ceremonies had its own kind of attire, such as jebok, jobok, sangbok, and other types of attires that were later introduced into the dynasty. Of course, there were differences between the outfits worn by the king and his subjects, because the former was considered the highest ranking person in the entire country.  It was not surprising that the attires for the kings were given close attention and special offices were set up to oversee the production of those attires.

Jebok (제복)

Jebok was a type of full ceremonial robe worn by the king and the government officials during the ancestral rites at the Jongmyo shrine. There were several differences between jebok for the king and the officials but for the start, the name was different: the robe for the king was called myeonbok, while the ministers’ robe was only known as jebok. The attire took the names from the crown worn together with the respective attire: myeonbok was worn with myeonryugwan as jebok was worn with jegwan. Another striking different which set myeonbok apart from the ordinary jebok was the symbols on the robe. Jebok was mostly worn by the ministers during sacrificial and ancestral rites while the king would wear myeonbok during various ceremonies, such as sacrificial rituals including prayers for rain, coronation, weddings, New Year celebrations, and first day of winter.

Although the kings of Joseon Dynasty were the highest ranking person in the country, they were considered lower than the Chinese Dynasties’ emperors, befitting Joseon’s status as a tributary state under Ming and later Qing. Chinese Emperors wore the robe with twelve symbols or sibijangbok (십이장복) , kings and imperial crown prince wore the robe with nine symbols or gujangbok (구장복), and royal crown prince wore the robe with seven symbols or chiljangbok (칠장복). Gujangbok was used as a ceremonial robe by the kings after King Uijong of Goryeo Dynasty was bestowed the attire by the emperor of Jin Dynasty and the usage of the attire continued during Joseon Dynasty.


The twelve symbols used on the sibijangbok symbolized the virtues of the Emperor and they were: sun or il (일), moon or wol (월), constellation of stars or seongsin (성신), mountains or san (산), dragons or yong (용), bronze sacrificial cups or jongyi (종이), pheasants or hwachung (화충), grains or jo (조), fire or hwa (화), axe or bo (보), the bul (불) symbols, and water weed or bunmi (분미). The nine symbols used for the gujangbok were: dragons (symbolizing the king’s power), mountains (king’s authority), pheasants (multiple talents and splendour), fire (brilliance in governing the subjects and bright future), bronze sacrificial cups (a pair of cups used during ancestral rites with tiger representing courage and monkey symbolizing wisdom. The cups themselves symbolized filial piety to the ancestors), water weed (flexibility), grains (citizens), axes (authority to make decision), and bul (authority to judge). The symbols on the gujangbok were embroidered at specific places on the whole attire.

Symbols/Wearer(s) Emperor King Crown Prince
Grand Heir
Sun  (T)  
Moon (T)
Stars (T)
Dragons (T)
Mountains (T)
Pheasants (T)
Fire (B)
Bronze Cups (B)
Water Weed (B)
Grains (B)
Axe (B)
Bul symbol (B)

*Legend: T = Top, B = Bottom. Table credit to King’s Costume, Corealisme (2009).

The ceremonial attire was made up of several components: gwan, ui, sang, hyeokdae, daedae, jungdan, pae, su, pyeseul, hol, bangsim-gokryeong, mal, and seok.

The King’s Myeonbok

Haejong wearing myeonryugwan during his son’s coronation as the Crown Prince
  • Gwan (관), the crown which was also known as myeonryugwan (면류관) had the number of strings hung from it according to the rank of the wearer: 12 for the emperor, 9 for the king and the imperial crown prince, and 8 for the royal crown prince. The name for which it was referred to depended on the number of strings, such as sibiryumyeon (십이류면) for the emperor’s gwan and guryumyeon (구류면) for the king’s gwan. Colourful jade beads were hung on the strings and for the king, five different colours were used: red, white, blue, yellow, and green.
  • Ui (의) was the bluish black robe worn on top, also known as gonbok (곤복), gonui (곤의), myeonui (면의), or hyeonui (현의). The collar, dongjeong (동정) was white while the coat string, goreum (고름) was dark grey in colour. The symbols for the top part of the attire was embroidered on ui and they included the oval-shaped golden dragons on both shoulders, with red yarns used to adorn the fins; the back hems of the sleeves with several symbols: red fire (3), bronze sacrificial cups (3) embroidered in green , and pheasants (3) in red, green, and dark blue; and green mountains on the back of the robe.
  • Sang (상) was a red garment like a skirt with white strings on the waist part. It was worn underneath ui and on top of jungdan with embroidery of the four symbols for the bottom part of the whole attire on it: grains, water weed, axes, and bul symbol.
  • Hyeokdae (혁대) was the hard ornamental waist belt made from horn, metals, and jade. It was also called okdae (옥대).
  • Daedae (대) was the white sash forming the shape ㅠ worn around the waist and where husu, paeok, and pyeseul would be attached to.
  • Jungdan (중단), the white inner coat with blue sleeve hems, was embroidered with golden patterns of eleven bul symbols on the collar. This coat was also worn under various ceremonial robes by the king, the queen, and the officials. Jungchimak (중치막) was a white coat worn on top of the jeogori and baji under jungdan. It was a type long coat or po (포).
  • Pae (패) or paeok (패옥) was jade ornaments also known as okpae (옥패) hung from the sash on both sides of the wearer. It was made from knitted cloth with tasseled rear mangsu (망수) and plates of jade hung on the cloth. The sounds made from the clinking plates symbolized the authority of the king. It was also worn together with other ceremonial clothes such as queen’s jeokui and the official’s sangbok.
  • Su (수), also known as husu (후수), was an ornamental drape tied to rear part of the wearer. Usually attached to daedae, it consisted of red, white, yellow, blue, and green clothes. There were variations of husu‘s decorations: there were jade loops hung from knots and also tasseled fabrics embroidered with multicoloured threads.
The Moon that Embraces the Sun Ep 20.END.720p-KOR.avi_002329529
Ui and su worn by Hwon, as seen from the back. The symbols (dragons on the shoulders and the mountains) were also visible.
  • Pyeseul (폐슬), the ceremonial knee pad worn on top of the ui. It was made from red silk with black hems and cloth loops were attached to it for daedae. The four symbols on the bottom: grains, water weed, axes, and bul, were also embroidered on it.
  • Hol (홀) or gyu (규), a slab made from jade to be held by the wearer like a scepter. Also known as okgyu (옥규), the name differed depending on the type of jade used to make it: baek-okgyu (백옥규) for white jade and cheong-okgyu (청옥규) for green jade. The top was made to represent a mountain and the bottom part, hyeopgyudae (협규대), was wrapped with red silk as the part where the king would hold the slab.
Yeongjo and Sado both holding gyu
Yeongjo and Sado both holding gyu
  • Bangsim-gokryeong (방심곡령), a piece of clothing made from white fabric with two parts: a round shaped neck band, bangsim, and a square silk with square hole, gokryeong. It was worn around the neck and it was also worn by the officials with their sangbok.
  • Mal (말), a pair of red socks made from silk. Although the ordinary socks for the commoners did not have any strings, mal for the king had strings on the back to be tied.
  • Seok (석) was the red shoes with white silk linings inside them. There were different decorations used for the shoes, including yellow tassels and fire-shaped soles on the front.

The Official’s Jebok

Yeongjo’s court officials in their jebok
  • GwanJegwan (제관), a black crown except for the gold hairpin and decoration on the front was the crown worn by the officials with jebok. The number of strips on the crown was according to the rank: five for 1st rank, four for 2nd, three for 3rd, two for 4th, 5th, and 6th, and one for 7th, 8th, and 9th ranks.
  • Ui – The top was either cheongchoui (청초의) or cheongraui (청라의), both plain dark blue robes with no symbols embroidered on it.
  • Sang – A red skirt, jeokchosang (적초상), with black hems.
  • Hyeokdae – The material of the ornamental waist belt depended on the rank of the wearer: seodae (서대) [made from rhinoceros horn] for 1st rank; sapgeumdae (삽금대) [made from shards of gold] for 2nd senior; sogeumdae (소금대) [with gold motifs] for 2nd junior; sapeundae (삽은대) [made from shards of silver] for 3rd senior; soeundae (소은대) [with silver motifs] for 3rd junior and 4th ranks; and heukgakdae (흑각대) [made from buffalo’s horn] for 5th to 9th ranks.
  • Daedae – The white cloth waist belt.
  • Jungdan – A plain white undercoat. White dopo and daechangui were also used as jungdan during the late Joseon Dynasty.
  • Pae – The jade used to make it varied according to the rank: bluish jade or beoncheongok (번청옥) for 1st to 3rd rank officials and white jade or beonbaekok (번백옥) for the officers of 4th to 9th ranks.
  • Su – It also differed according to the rank. Crown Prince and officials of the 1st to 2nd ranks would wear husu with yellow, green, purple, and red threads woven into cranes and two gold rings hung from it; the 3rd rank officers with yellow, green, purple, and red banjomun (반조문~reflection pattern) and two silver rings; the 4th-6th ranks with yellow, green, and red yeonjakmunsu (연작문수~shrike, a small bird) followed by two silver rings for 4th rank and two copper rings for 5th-6th; and the rest would have yellow and green gyejikmun (계직문~ goosander, a type of bird) with two copper rings on their husu. In the 17th century patterns were either of nosa or crane motifs while in 18th century, only cranes were woven into husu.
  • Pyeseul – A rectangle-shaped red ceremonial knee pad hung from the waist. towards the end of the dynasty, a different type of knee pad known as pyehyung (폐흉) was attached to the chest part of the top.
  • Hol – The scepter. Officials of the 1st to 4th ranks used hol made from ivory while the rest (5th and lower) used wood scepters. During Sukjong’s reign, all officials used wood scepters but Jeongjo later changed it into white bok hol.
  • Mal – White socks were worn together with jebok.
  • Yi – A type of low cut shoes black in colour, heukpihye (흑피혜), was reserved for jebok.

Jobok (조복)

Jobok was the formal attire for the kings and the government officials. It was characterized by a red coat and different types of headdress, depending of the rank of the wearer. Jobok was made up of several components just like jebok, but since it was reserved for smaller occasions such as officiating ceremonies, the were less details on jobok, for instance the absence of symbols of virtues on the attire.

[tvN] Three Musketeers E03.avi_002416583
Injo wearing gangsapo and wonyugwan

Gangsapo (강사포) was the ceremonial red coat worn by the king and the crown prince. It had wide sleeves and resembled dopo with its length. It was worn on top of the skirt of sang. The ceremonial skirt sang was similar to that of myeonbok, but without the embroidery of the symbols. Jungdan for jobok had red edges instead of blue on the collar with the gold embroidered bul and sleeve hems. Pyeseul for jobok was made up of red silk entirely without embroidery, but it had braids made up of knotted threads on it. Hyeokdae, daedae, pae, su, and hol were identical to jebok, but the socks or mal were slightly different as the king would wear white for this formal attire. The shoes worn was a type of high cut shoes or boots known as hwa (화) and the king would wear mokhwa (목화) with red cloth edgings. The crown or gwan depended on the rank of the wearer and the king would use wonyugwan (원유관), while tongcheongwan (통천관) was reserved for the emperor. When wonyugwan was worn with the attire, it would be called wonyugwanbok (원유관복) and for tongcheongwan it was known as tongcheongwanbok (통천관복).

[tvN] Three Musketeers E03.avi_002337871
Husu, hyeokdae, and daedae worn by Injo

As for the officials’ jobok, they would wear either jeokchoui (적초의) or jeokraui (적라의), both red coats with black fabric lining the hems of the coat as the top or ui. Other articles such as sang, pyeseul, hyeokdae, daedae, pae, su, hol, and mal were the same as those of jebok, except for a few. Jungdan used with the jobok by the officials were white and later, different colours and coats were used in place of the white jungdan, such as jade coloured dopo and daechangui and blue jungdan. The shoes or yi were originally low cut shoes but during Jungjong’s reign, they were replaced with black boots or heukhwa (흑화). The crown or gwan worn together with this attire would be a golden crown called geumgwan (금관). It was also known as yanggwan (양관), with the strips on the top denoting the rank of the wearer, just like jegwan.

[tvN] Three Musketeers E03.avi_002146246
Husu and hyeokdae on the back of the officers and pae hanging from Prince Sohyun and Choi Myung-gil’s daedae

Sangbok (상복)

In the dramas, the king would be often seen wearing sangbok (상복) or his ordinary business attire, since it was also his daily wear. Sangbok was a generic term for ceremonial costume with round collars. The components of the attire depended of the rank of the wearer: the king would wear ikseongwanbok while the officials would wear their gongbok when they were inside the palace.

Haejong and his sangbok, consisting of his hongryongpo and black ikseongwan

On top of the inner coat or juui (주의), the king would wear his dragon robe known as gonryongpo (곤룡포). The colour, and thus the specific names of the robe, depended on the wearer’s rank, such as red dragon robe hongryongpo (홍룡포) for the king and black dragon robe heukryongpo (흑룡포) for the crown prince. The red gonryongpo was reserved only for the king while the crown prince in dramas are depicted to wear dark blue dragon robe. The crown for this robe was ikseongwan (익선관), a black crown with a pair of wings pointing upwards known as yanggak (양각). The colour of ikseongwan depended on the king as there were other variation of colours, such as red and maroon. The wings pointed upwards,  symbolizing the high position that the king had while the flaps on an official’s hat samo pointed downwards, depicting their humble position to serve the king. The king would wear the boots or mokhwa with his dragon robe.

Gojong wearing a maroon ikseongwan and okdae with hongryongpo

Another important point of the attire was the circle dragon insignia, yongbo (용보) (or simply bo), worn on both shoulders, on the chest, and on the back of the wearer. Yongbo consisted of a dragon embroidered in a circle and the number toes for the dragon depended on the rank: four toes for the king and three toes for the crown prince. This was the rules during Sejong’s reign but Yeongjo then changed it – five-toed dragon emblem, ohjoryongbo (오조령보) for the king; four toes, sajoryongbo (사조령보) for the crown prince; and three toes, samjoryongbo (삼조령보), for the grand heir (grandson of the king). The same rule was applied for their respective consorts. A jade belt, okdae (옥대), was worn together with the attire.

Mandate of Heaven E13.avi_000898832
Sajoryongbo on Injong’s gonryongpo when he was a Crown Prince

[tvN] Three Musketeers E02.avi_001366933
Choi Myung-gil donning dalryeongpo and samo
 The officials would wear dalryeongpo (단령포) or simply dalryeong, a ceremonial overcoat with their rank badges or hyungbae (흉배) on the front and back, as their gongbok. The colours of the overcoat and the rank badges depicted the ranks of the wearers: purple was for the royal family members such as the princes and princes consort, red for tofficers of the first to third senior rank, blue for those of third junior to sixth junior rank, and green for seventh to ninth rank officials. Samo (사모), a black hat with flaps and okdae, the belt, was worn with the overcoat. Heukhwa, the black boots, were the footwear used to complete the attire. On his wedding day, a groom from the ordinary family was permitted to wear blue dalryeongpo with single crane badge, even if he did no hold a post in the government.

Rin putting on juui before wearing his dalryeongpo

The rank badges were adapted from the Chinese Dynasties and featured the heavenly creatures. The creatures changed throughout Joseon Dynasty. The royal family would use the emblems known as bo, for instance yongbo or the dragon insignia.

Kirin rank badge on Rin aka Grand Prince Wolgwang’s robe

The rank badges were first introduced to Joseon during Danjong’s reign, but the arrangement changed throughout the dynasty:

Rank Rank badge
Danjong’s reign
Grand Prince, daegun (대군) – legitimate sons of the king A Kirin (기린)
Commander of the Palace Guards, dotongsa (도통사) A lion, saja (사자)
Jegun (제군) – illegitimate sons of the king A Baektaek, (백택) – like a lion
Civil officials of the 1st rank A pair of peacocks, gongjak (공작)
Civil officials of the 2nd rank A pair of wild geese and clouds, unan (운안)
Civil officials of the 3rd rank A pair of silver pheasants, baekhan (백한)
Military officials of the 1st & 2nd rank A pair of tiger-leopard, hopyo (호표)
Military officials of the 3rd rank A bear-leopard, ungpyo (웅표)
Inspector General, daesaheon (대사헌) A haechi (해치) – or haetae
Yeongjo’s reign
Civil officials of the 1st to 3rd rank A pair of cranes and clouds, unhak (운학)
Civil officials of the 3rd to 9th rank A pair of silver pheasants, baekhan (백한)
Military officials of the 1st to 3rd rank A pair of tiger-leopard, hopyo (호표)
Military officials of the 3rd to 9th rank A bear, ungbi (웅비)
Gojong’s reign
Civil officials of the 1st to 3rd rank A pair of cranes, ssanghak (쌍학)
Civil officials of the 3rd to 9th rank A crane, danhak (단학)
Military officials of the 1st to 3rd rank A pair of hopyo, ssangpyo (쌍표)
Military officials of the 3rd to 9th rank A hopyo, danpyo (단표)

Yungbok (융복) and Gugunbok (구군복)

When the king or the officials had to leave the palace for official trips such as visiting the tombs and for wartime travels, they would be wearing an attire known as yungbok (융복). It was also worn by the government officials when they made trips to the neighbouring countries as envoys. The main component of yungbok was cheollik (철릭), the topcoat with pleated lower part to make way for easier movement.

Crown Prince Sohyun wearing a blue cheollik with dragon emblems and jeonrip

The king would wear red, the crown prince blue, the higher officials or dangsanggwan (당사관) dark blue, and lower officials danghagwan (당하관) bluish black. The attire was paired with a type of waist belt with tasseled ends known as gwangdahoe (광다회). Heukrip (흑립), a black hat, and the boots hwa were also worn together with yungbok.

There was also military uniform being used, known as gugunbok (구군복). Dongdari (동달이), the inner garment, had different colour of fabric attached as the sleeves. The main part would usually made from yellow silk while the sleeves were red. On top of of dongdari, jeonbok (전복), a long outer sleeveless military robe with slits on both sides and the back for easy movement, was worn. Instead of the usual strings used to secure the flaps and openings of the garments, gugunbok‘s garments made use of the knot buttons to secure them, as there would be a lot of movements and the knot buttons would ensure the clothes to be tight at all time. Jeonbok had the knot buttons on the front. For the king and the crown prince, yongbo would be sewn on the jeonbok just like on the gonryongpo. Gwangdae (광대), the waist belt, also had knot buttons. It was made of silk with various embroideries. The ordinary military uniform worn by the military officials would only use a basic jeondae, which is basically gwangdae minus the embroidered detail.

Jeonbok with yongbo and the embroidered belt, gwangdae, as worn by Jeongjo

A long blue cloth belt known as jeondae (전대) was tied on top of gwangdae. It had pointed ends and the ends would be visible on the front after being tied. The boots hwa were worn together with this outfit.  Jeonrip (전립) was the headgear paired with the military uniform. Also known as morip (모립), it was a wide brimmed black hat with a hemisphere top. For the royalties, the hat would be adorned with peacock feathers, tassels, dragon jade disc on the front, and hat strings made from precious stones, paeyeong (패영). The military officials would have their jeonrip decorated according to their ranks.

Arang 08.avi_003525492
Eun-oh was a local magistrate and his clothes were a toned down version of what a king would wear: yellow dongdari with red sleeves, jeonbok, and jeonrip

Pyeongsangbok (평상복)

For an unofficial trip outside the palace, the king would be wearing the same outfit which the noblemen wore daily. The attire, known as pyeongsangbok, consisted of several articles: juui, dopo, dopokkeun, sangtugwan, heukrip, mal, and hye. Dopo (도포) was the long overcoat worn over the inner coat juui. It was characterized by the wide sleeves and split lower back. It had the coat strings just like jeogori. Aside from the ordinary dopo, the noblemen also wore various types of overcoats, for instance jungchimak, changui, and durumagi. Jungchimak (중치막) has wide sleeves just like a dopo, but it did not have the back slits. Changui (창의), on the other hand, only had the back slits and they were two types of changui: daechangui with wide sleeves and sochangui with narrow sleeves. Durumagi (두루마기) was made without slits and had narrow sleeves, even narrower than changui.

Rin and his nightwear, durumagi

Towards the late Joseon Dynasty, noblemen wore a sleeveless topcoat on dopo known as dapho (답호). It had the coat strings and overlapped panels with collar. Another type of sleeveless topcoat was kwaeja (쾌자) but unlike dapho, it did not have overlapping panels and the collar; instead, it looked like a jeonbok with the knot buttons on the front to fasten it. Kwaeja originated from banbi, a sleeveless coat from Goryeo Dynasty and also inspired by the military coat jeonbok. There was another type of topcoat, bangryeongui (방령의) which was sleeveless with rectangular collar. It was from Ming Dynasty and the topcoat was popular during the beginning of the Joseon Dynasty, but the usage declined after the Imjin War.

Ho-kyung pairs a gwaeja with dopo
Yoon-kang wearing a pink dapho with his baby blue dopo while Soo-in wears a variation of dopo on top of her jeogori
Rin wears a dapho while Mu-seok, befitting his status as a military officer, wears gwaeja on his dopo
Tree With Deep Roots Ep 03.avi_002822889
Bangryeongui as worn by Jeong Do-gwang

A string known as dopokkeun (도포끈) was worn on the dopo, tied around a position higher than the wearer’s waist. It was made of a colourful cord with tasseled ends. Dopokkeun was also known as sejodae (세조대) when it was worn with changui (창의), an overcoat with slightly narrower sleeves compared to dopo. Heukrip was worn with the attire and for the high-ranking people such as the officials and the royalty, the decorations slightly differed. The jade ornament placed on top of the hat, okrojeongja (옥로정자), was reserved for the royal family and the ministers. They would also wear gatkkeun (갓끈), a hat string made from gemstones. White mal would be worn and the footwear would be a leather low-cut shoes commonly called hye(혜).

Rin wears a heukrip with okrojeongja and gatkkeun since he is a member of the royal family

Daeryebok (대례복) & Soryebok (소례복)

Due to the increasing number of national ceremonies, Gojong introduced the new categories in 1895: daeryebok (대례복), soryebok (소례복), and sangbok (상복). Daeryebok was the attire for the major ceremonies, daerye (대례) while soryebok was reserved for minor ceremonies, sorye (소례). The king and the crown prince’s daeryebok was myeonbok; the officials jebok and jebok; while the queens and the crown princess would be wearing jeokui. Soryebok was as following: jobok for the king and the crown prince, gongbok for the officials, and wonsam and dangui for the queen and crown princesses. The government officer’s soryebok was later changed to black dalryeong or heukdalryeong (흑단령), worn together with samo and mokhwa.

Jeokui (적의)

The queen’s daeryebok was jeokui. Nowadays, the term is used to refer to the attire used during Gojong’s reign when Korea was declared as an empire. Jeokui went through so many changes throughout the dysnasty. The attire originated from Ming Dynasty and it was adapted by Goryeo Dynasty as the nation’s ceremonial attire of the queen after King Gongmin received the attire from Ming. The attire was blue in colour with embroidery of and worn with a crown, chilhwiyibonggwan (칠휘이봉관). The crown’s name was taken from the ornaments used to adorn the crown: seven pheasants and two balsam flowers, with other types of flower hairpins. The crown resembled the phoenix crown used in Ming.

After Joseon was established, the attire was changed into daesam (대삼), a red robe worn with an elaborate crown chiljeokgwan (칠적관). Daesam was made from red silk without any pattern or embroidery on it, worn with a blue vest known as sagyuoja (사규오자) with embroidery of gold phoenixes. A sash, hapi (하피), made from blue fabric and embroidered with gold pheonixes and flowers, was put on both shoulders. Just like myeonbok, hyeokdae, daedae, paeok, su, mal, and seok were also worn together with the attire.

Hwa-yong’s chijeokui on her coronation as the Crown Princess

During Injo’s reign, the attire was again changed after the fall of Ming, this time to a red robe known as chijeokui (치적의). The robe had embroidery of small circles on the hems of the sleeves and on the back flap known as ojowonryongbo (오조원룡보). Red chijeokui was for the queen, purple for the queen dowager, and blue-black for the princesses consort. The dragon insignia were also worn on the shoulders, front, and back of chijeokui. Instead of jungdan, a red under coat, byeolui (별의) was worn under chijeokui. For the inner coat, another red jacket, naeui (내의) was used. The skirt or sang was made from blue silk and the patterns sewn on it depended on the wearer: the queen would have the dragon while the consorts of the successor would have phoenix on their skirts. It did not have much difference with seuran chima, which would come into usage later. Black hapi with patterns of gold cranes and pheasants, red pyeseul, red daedae, hyeokdae, su, and paeok were among the components of chijeokui but there were slight difference for the socks and the shoes: the queen would wear red shoes and socks while the consorts would wear black socks and shoes. The scepter gyu was also according to the rank: white jade for the queen and bluish jade for the consorts.

Jeokui was transformed into the blue robe again during Gojong’s reign, right after he declared Korea as an empire. The robe was made from azure blue silk and embroidered with 148 pairs of pheasants and flowers. Red silk was attached to the hems of the sleeves and the ends of the robe, with gold dragons were embroidered on it. This was the design for the empress. As for the imperial crown princess, the jeokui would have 138 pairs of pheasants and flowers, with gold phoenix decorating the red silk. Pyeseul for the empress would have four pairs of flower embroidered alternating with three pairs of pheasants on the blue silk and dragons on the red silk attached around the rectangle knee pad, while the crown princess would have three pairs of flowers alternated with the embroidery of two pairs of pheasants and phoenix on the red part for her knee pad.

Jungdan was used with jeokui but the colour was different; it was jade-coloured under coat with red hems, with 13 gold patterns of bul. The crown princess’ jungdan would only have 11 bul patterns. Yongbo, hyeokdae, daedae, su, gyu, blue mal and seok were worn and the difference between the empress and the crown princess’ attires were the dragons and the phoenixes used to decorate the articles. There were different types of skirts or sang worn underneath the robe: jeonhaeng chima (전행치마), a skirt split into three parts; and mujigi chima (무지기치마), a multilayer skirts with different colours of daeran chima attached together. Daesu were worn together with both chijeokui and jeokui.

Hwalot (활옷)

Princess Kyunghye's hwalot
Princess Kyunghye’s hwalot

Another type of daeryebok for the ladies of the royal house was hwalot, an exquisite red robe. It was one of the attires worn by the Joseon princesses during their wedding ceremonies. Embroidered with flowers like peonies, it was worn on top of a yellow samhuijang jeogori and seuran chima, with a long yongjam and the two daenggi: ap daenggi and doturak daenggi. Hwagwan was the crown used with hwalot. The attire was later used by the commoners to be worn on their wedding day, but the cost was so high that in reality, only yangban was able to afford it. When worn by the commoners, a long red chima was worn with hwalot.

Wonsam (원삼)

Originated from the Ming Dynasty’s jangsam, wonsam was used as soryebok by the queens and the princesses consort, while the court ladies, the wives of the government officials, the consorts of the princes, and the concubines would wear it as their daeryebok. The colours were yellow for the empress (hwangwonsam – 황원삼), red for the queen (hongwonsam – 홍원삼), purple for the other consorts of the king (jajeokwonsam – 자적원삼), dark green for the princesses and the wives (chorokwonsam -초록원삼), and light green for others (nokwonsam – 녹원삼).

For the royal ladies’ usage, wonsam would have the gold patterns on it. The queen and the princesses consort would use a rectangular insignia with a pair of phoenixes or bonghwangbangbo (봉황방보) on their ceremonial dress. During a ceremony inside the palace, keun meori would be the hairstyle for wonsam, but after Yeongjo’s reign, hwagwan was used as the crown. Wonsam was permitted to be used as a bride’s dress by the commoners but only plain nokwonsam could be worn, together with jokduri. Wonsam would be paired with seuran chima or daeran chima for the royalties while the commoners would wear a red chima.

A plain nokwonsam worn together with jokduri during a wedding ceremony
A plain nokwonsam worn together with jokduri during a wedding ceremony

Dangui (당의)

Dangui was probably the most common attire which could be seen worn by the royal ladies in sageuk. It was an attire for soryebok worn by the noble ladies while the female members of the royal family would wear it as their daily attire or pyeongsangbok. Also known as dangjeogori, dangjeoksam or danghansam, it came to be used during Gwanghaegun’s reign, where the noble ladies started to wear it before the royal ladies adapted the attire for their daily use. It had longer back and front curvy flaps. There were variety of colours for dangui but light green, purple, yellow, white, and dark green were the usual pick, with light green being the most popular choice. The hems of the sleeves would be attached to white silk.

The types of dangui depended on the seasons and festivities. During the cold winter, layered dangui or kyeopdangui (겹당의) made from silk were used while in summer, unlined dangui or hotdangui (홑당의), made from a type of thin silk known as sa, would be worn. White-coloured dangui or hwinsaekdangui (흰색당의) would be worn by the queen the night before Dano festival day in the fifth month and the rest of the country would follow suit on the next day, wearing white top.

Kang Bin's dangui and daeran chima
Kang Bin’s dangui and daeran chima

The difference between the royal ladies and the noblewomen’s dangui were the rank badges and the gold foil, geumbak on the topcoat. Queens and princesses would have their dangui stamped with various patterns: flowers and bats motifs; Hanja characters for longevity or su (수), fortune or bok (복), and happiness or hui (희); and other types of drawings. The queen would also have the phoenix patterns on her topcoat. The rank badges were according to the spouses’ ranks and the princesses would not wear any rank badge most of the time. Dangui would be paired with seuran chima (스란치마) – a long skirt with single band of gold foil – or daeran chima (대란치마) – a long skirt with two large bands of gold foil – for the royal ladies. The hairdo for dangui was eoyeo meori but after Yeongjo’s ban on the wig in 1752, jokduri was used instead of gache.

Kang Bin's eoyeo meori
Kang Bin’s eoyeo meori
Princess Hyegyeong wearing a jokduri with her dangui
Princess Hyegyeong wearing a jokduri with her dangui

When a woman wore a dangui or even an ordinary jeogori, a long, wide string could be seen hanging in front of the skirt. Hyangdae (향대) was the string, hung from the inner coat string of the topcoat. Also known as nunmul georum (눈 물거름), it was long and often white in colour. In the past, the new brides would use the string to wipe their tears on their way to their in-laws’ house, hence the alias it had. In the dramas, the norigae and the perfume pendant would be hung on top of the string. The string itself could be embroidered with flowers. The information about it was so scarce that I spent about four years searching for the name before discovering it.

Se-ryung’s hyangdae

Aengsam (앵삼) and nansam (난삼)

Aengsam worn by the military officials and nansam worn by the civil officials
Aengsam worn by the military officials and nansam worn by the civil officials

When a candidate had passed the national exam, he would be wearing a special attire known as aengsam during the officiating ceremony, where they would receive the certificate or hongpae (홍패). It could be regarded as a scholar’s attire since it would be worn by students. Another type of the attire was nansam and the difference between these two was the colour: aengsam was green whereas nansam was ivory. They had round collars and attached to black fabrics on the ends of the clothes. Both were worn together with gakdae, mokhwa, and a type of flower hat known as bokdu (복두) or eosahwa (어사화).

There, there…I think I have covered in detail on most of the ceremonial dresses and robes used in the court or royal palace during Joseon Dynasty. If there is any question, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll try my best to find the answers~

Source| 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 |

17 thoughts on “Traditional Korean Clothing: Kdrama Style (Part 2)

  1. This newest installment is fascinating. Thank you so much for your research and for sharing. I’ve shared it with my kdrama Facebook group knowing they will appreciate this article as much as I do. The one item that led me to discover your blog was when I was trying to research the word for the forehead scarf/bandanna–which I now know is a “meolitti.”

  2. Thank you so much for your hard work. God bless you for sharing this amazing post! Korean clothes are really beautiful.

  3. I’ve really enjoyed your posts on traditional Joseon clothing. I’ve had a question for a while that I haven’t been able to find an answer to, and I was hoping you might know it. The jade belts worn by royalty and officials, the hyeokdae or okdae—how are they kept in place? Is there some kind of belt tab in the robes, are they attached to a sash or something? They fit very loosely so there must be something holding them up, but I can’t figure out what it is!

    1. Hi! Thanks for dropping by 😉
      I could not see any belt tab on the robes they wore and the belt did not seem to be tied to anything. However, from what I saw in the dramas, the belt was made to sit perfectly on the wearer’s hip, as in it had the same width as the wearer’s hip. Just my observation, though. I’ll grt back to you if I find something new ^^v

      1. Hello again! I did some image searches and it turns out the robes do have belt tabs! You can see it in this picture on Yoo Ah In’s robes, holding up the belt just before it starts to slant down towards the back. Thanks for the informative posts that helped to point me in the right direction! Another Joseon-wear puzzle solved.

        1. Waaah thank you for this! I also saw that Kim Soo-hyun’s robe in TMETS also had those tabs but they were only visible from side view. I think they must be hidden under those wide sleeves 😀
          You’re welcome, and thanks for the info too~

  4. Hyangdae

    여자들이 노리개와 함께 착용하는 한 복장신구, 향대(香臺).

    한복 치마의 말기끈에 겹쳐 옷고름과 함께 길게 늘어뜨리는 이것은 명주 본연의 소색(素色)을 띠며, 본래 결혼식을 마친 신부가 친정 부모님을 떠나며 눈물을 훔치던 ‘눈물 고름’에서 비롯되었다. 사실 엄밀히 말해 향대는 한복의 정상적인 매무새가 아니거니와 이와 관련한 정확한 기원이나 기록도 남아 있지 않다.

    다만 전해져오는 이야기에 따르면 한복 치마말기끈을 바깥으로 내려서 입은 것으로 기생의 옷에서 유래됐다는 설이 있다. 때문에 전통과 풍습을 중요시하는 어른들은 향대 착용을 좋아하지 않지만 나이가 어린 신부들은 미적인 측면에서 선호하고 있다.

    기본적으로는 소색을 바탕으로 하기 때문에 한복의 치마 저고리와 배색할 때 어두운 색감을 밝게 하거나, 너무 화사해 들뜨는 색을 차분하게 가라앉히는 역할을 하기도 한다.

    또 고가의 노리개가 부담스러운 이들에게는 같은 위치에 대체되는 액세서리 포인트로 다양하게 스타일링할 수 있다. 젊은 소비자의 기호에 따라 요즘에는 꽃, 십장생 등을 수놓아 장식적인 요소를 가미하거나 길이, 색상 등의 변화로 다양한 형태들을 선보이고 있다.

    가로의 폭 또한 본래는 고름의 넓이와 같이하여 조금 짧게 매는 것이 옳으나 각각의 한복 스타일에 따라 더 넓게 혹은 좁게 디자인해 자유롭게 연출하기도 한다.

  5. Very detailed, good work!
    I love traditional korean clothing, they are so fascinating and your articles are great to get informed.

  6. Thank you so much for another great post! I may have missed it but how about when Sado and Hyegyong begged outside of Yeongjo’s quarters in white. Is there a specific name or hairstyle?

    1. You’re welcome! ^^
      Regarding your question, the name of the attire would be sobok (소복). It is usually worn during mourning and in the context, it is probably worn to symbolize the grave state they’re in, enough for them to grovel and mourn for the issue they’re pleading for in front of the king.
      Sorry for the delayed reply..

Rant Out, Souls!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s