The Korea Foundation (2013)

THE KOREA FOUNDATION (2013). Hanbok: Timeless Fashion Tradition, Seoul: Korea Foundation, Korea Essentials no. 16. ISBN: 978=89-97639-41-0 04080; soft back, 107 pp., full colour, list of relevant museums in Korea, no bibliography, no index. Price: US$18.00 (also available as a digital version).

Hanbok is the Korean term for its country’s traditional dress, whether worn by men, women or children. It is the clothing now worn on important holidays and special occasions (weddings, birthdays, religious events, etc). It is regarded as an important part of Korean cultural identity. There are many different forms of hanbok, depending on the wearer’s gender, economic, social and religious status, as well as the nature of the event (theatre, opera, mourning, etc). The booklet looks at the range of hanbok worn mainly in South Korea and gives information about the origins, names, uses, etc., as well as how hanbok has been used and perceived in the 20th century when Western influences were becoming more and more dominant. There is also a chapter on Korean fashion designers who use hanbok as part of their presentations.

Recommendation: A useful book for anyone interested in Korean and Asian cultural heritage. It places hanbok within Korean life and leaves the reader wanting to know more (and have examples to actually see and feel). This book will be of interest and use to a wide readership.

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood

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