Dressing like a K-Pop Star in Modern Hanbok

The Hanbok And Its Significance In Korean Culture

The Hanbok is one of the most significant parts of Korea’s highly rich and flavorful culture. This classic, traditional style has been worn for centuries by Koreans, and its roots can be traced all the way back to 18 B.C., making the dress highly significant as well as culturally invaluable. The Hanbok was worn as both, a casual outfit wearing which both men and women would go about completing their daily tasks, as well as the outfit for the royalty, both for their daily usage, as well as for the most esteemed functions which were ever so regular and common back then, and still are to this day.

With the dawn of the 19th century, Hanboks, despite being designed for casual usage which allowed them to be worn with ease, were largely replaced by Western casualwear which was evidently more comfortable, efficient and more ‘in-trend’, and within a few decades. Within a couple of decades, the Korean men and women who could be seen clad in their Hanboks resorted to Western wear and seeing a Korean wearing his traditional clothing became a rare sight, and there came in a point when Hanboks were only to be seen being work on some few and far between events. However, this outfit is treasured by Koreans to this day as an integral part of their heritage, and is still worn with a great deal of pride and joy during all kinds of important functions and celebrations.

How Hanboks Found Their Way Into Today’s Fashion

The Hallyu Wave was marked early on with the television series Dae Jang Geum which became a hit all over Asia. However, PSY’s Gangnam style, which was released in 2013 and became the first video to reach the 1 billion views milestone on YouTube, was truly that monumental push for Korea to finally gain the attention of international audiences, especially in the continents of America and Europe, where the Korean entertainment industry was vastly unheard of. The Korean wave reached its peaks in the recent years, with dramas like Descendants of The Sun and The Legend of The Blue Sea gaining a wide international audience composed largely of fans from the West, which was previously never seen before in K-Entertainment, and the unprecedented success of K-Pop Groups like BTS, BlackPink, EXO and Twice, which has left a huge mark on the world itself due to the fast pace at which K-Pop is heading towards world domination.

This extraordinary event has allowed Korean culture to seep into the rest of the world, most significantly the Korean language and fashion. Tourists have begun flogging the country, curious about i’s lifestyle and history, and this has allowed the Hanbok to re-capture its spotlight. Tourists can now rent the dress by the hour from stores and wear them as they go about exploring the country.

But this isn’t the biggest thrust that this outfit has received, but rather, it is the K-Stars who have been working hard to restore this outfit back to its glory. K-Pop artists can regularly be seen donning the Hanbok in all its glory, looking better than ever in this classic style. Their iconic looks have not just left the fans swooning, people now also want to replicate these looks themselves. As the modern Hanbok begins to gain traction, it has now become much easier to integrate this style into your special wardrobe collection thanks to the various stores which are now adding them to their fashion line. But to pull off the looks that your idols did might be a bit of a challenging task, especially since their outfits are carefully designed to represent Korean heritage at its finest.

The Hanbok Of The 21st Century

Just when it was believed that the Hanbok has gone out of fashion, modern Hanboks have carefully taken their predecessor’s place in order to keep traditions alive with a modern twist to them. While traditional Hanboks were both simple due to their daily wear nature, they were also quite complex due to the many pretty-looking knots that one had to tie while wearing them in order to keep the outfit in place and still look elegant and presentable, which people of this day and age might not exactly find convenient. Modern Hanboks, however, bring fashion, convenience as well as tradition all onto one platter due to the way in which they have been designed. One can slide into these with ease, just as easily as we are used to sliding into a pair of jeans and a tee, and roaming about freely in them.

The Fashion Surrounding Hanboks

Seoul Fashion Week’s 2017 Autumn Winter collection can be considered a turning point for the integration of the style and essence of Hanboks into daily wear. The outfits showcased in the show were heavily inspired by the traditional style, but were cleverly integrated into western outfits so as to stamp the Korean trademark into them. These outfits can be considered the embodiment of modern Hanboks, and one can see Korea clad into these outfits in the coming years so as to make their traditional outfit a part of their daily lives as well.

How The Modern Hanbok Is Different From The Traditional Hanbok

Modern Hanboks integrate the features of Western casual wear into the functionality of the outfit, whilst retaining the traditional dress’ shapes and elements, such as the collars, the baggy pants, the floral embroidered as well as plane cotton brocade, as well as the styles of the jackets. These elements are played around with in order to produce aesthetically pleasing clothing which firmly holds onto its Korean roots. Oversized jackets which often reach down to your knees, shirts and trousers (or tent shaped skirts) constitute some of the key elements of this modernized version of the Hanbok.

The Korean Entertainment Industry’s Take On This Classic Style

K-Pop idols have been proudly donning these outfits on all kinds of occasions, ranging from award show performances, right up to photo-shoots. Wearing the outfits on occasions such as Lunar New Year, birthdays, wedding ceremonies as well as festivals is a must as well. Whilst fans have been raving about these looks, here are some of the most iconic Hanbok looks that your idols have pulled off, and how you can give them a try as well.


Jin is famous for being the worldwide handsome, ‘third guy from the left’ who always manages to capture everybody’s attention, as well as the eccentric eomma (mother) of the globally sensational boy group BTS, and he never leaves any chances to give his fans the shock of their lives. His airport Hanbok appearance (due to a mini punishment) left his fans awestruck. Jin went for a highly traditional look , showing up in an oversized greyish lavender jacket with which reached down to his mid-calves, as well as a pair of baggy black trousers. He finished his look with a black netted gat (Korean hat worn during the Joseon era during formal meetings and occasions by men) with a beaded black and white fastening, a white scarf and a red tassel belt tied around his waist.

Whilst Jin went for the true Hanbok look of the past, you can easily customize this look with a modern twist by simply wearing a shortened version of the jacket which reaches down to your thighs, as well as dropping the hat for a more manageable and effortless look. If you happen to have your locks reaching the longer end, a nice man-bun would be the perfect addition to this classic look.

IZ*ONE’s Jang Wonyoung

The maknae(youngest member) and center of the popular girl group IX*ONE looked beyond stunning when the young idol’s photo-shoot images were seen by her fans for the first time. Going for the traditional yet softened look, Wonyoung wore a white shirt along with a netted white jacket with lace details on the sleeves, collar and waistline, as well as the traditional Hanbok skirt with velvety brocade colored a pastel version of the otherwise bright light blue color to go for a subtle winter vibe. She completed her look by loosely tying her hair, as well as painting her nails a light blue and lavender color. She used a branch of dried cotton blossoms to accentuate the winter/fall look even further.

Wonyoung’s simple look can easily be replicated with a tent-shaped pastel blue skirt, a netted blouse and a white shirt. Complete the look by tying your hair into a loose pony-tail or a braid, and tuck in a cotton blossom behind your ear to give your look the true Wonyoung touch. Also, pair in a pair of blue sandals and white beoseon (loose fitted Korean hosiery which often reaches a little lower than your mid-calves) and a pair of silver earrings to finish the look off in an elegant yet simple manner.


The 5-member boy group pulled off the local Hanbok look exceptionally well, replicating how the attire was worn by locals back in the day. Their outfits were mixed and matched to complement each other yet help each member stand out, but their stylist went for well-fitted, either the pastel or dark shaded colors of the jackets, loose-fitted pants and shirts which was common back in the day for the townsfolk. Their sleeves and collars were puffy and white in color to serve as a visual contrast, and the stylist finished their look off with belts which were of a contrasting color, but still went along with the pastel tones.

You can easily replicate this look by playing around with the length of any cotton Hanbok jacket with a pastel body and white sleeves and collar, and pairing it with a pair of loose fitted black trousers. Complete the look with the help of a thick or tasseled belt and pinch into it a satchel or scented pouch to give the look a standard Korean essence, and neatly style your hair.

Park Jihoon

Park Jihoon, one of the most popular members of the now disbanded but internationally sensational boy group Wanna One made an exciting appearance in the 2019 K-Drama Flower Crew: Joseon Marriage Agency as one of the members of the eponymous Flower Crew. His eccentric character donned several eye-catching Hanboks throughout the series, and his looks were highly noted for their bright colors and floral patterns. He was often seen sporting long jackets with distinctive colors and patterns along with black trousers and a black gat with beaded fastenings with colors which either matched or complemented his jacket.

Jihoon’s look is extremely favorable for all sorts of fun-filled celebrations due to its bright color palette, and to make his look your own, you can add in beaded jewelry, as well as integrate floral embellishes to your outfit. Don’t miss out on the flower brocade though, that’s the look’s most distinguishable feature.


The nation’s little sister and one-woman army, soloist IU’s most popular drama continues to be Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo, in which she shocked the entire nation with her elegant as well as adorable Habok looks. She was seen wearing both simple, casual Hanboks as well as the more fancy Hanboks, thanks to her character’s flexible fashion sense. However, loose long jackets and a color palette which was composed mainly of light or bright pinks and whites, along with delicate hairstyles were the highlights of her looks.

You can replicate IU’s looks and give them a more functional approach by tying two thin braids to portion the front of your hair, and then tying them off at the back to give your hair a soft and elegant look. Stick to a pastel color palette and include hosiery in your apparel, and incorporate hair clips to your hairstyle to complete the look with the IU touch.


V’s most popular drama appearance was in the 2016-2017 series Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth, and the show’s most iconic feature, besides its famous and talented cast, was its beautiful and memorable costume design. Even to this day, looking at a Hanbok with a blue jacket, with a white shirt underneath, the image of Hwarang will pop up in any K-Drama fan’s head. V was mostly seen wearing a sleeveless bright blue jacket with an indigo collar and black linings over a loose white shirt, along with a pair of black trousers and shoes. His look was completed with a purple headband tied round his forehead, and his hair was tied into a high pony-tail.

V’s look can be achieved with ease by wearing a sleeveless blue jacket over an oversized white shirt and black trousers, and a high man-bun will greatly complement this look. The head piece is an integral part of the outfit, and should thus not be left out of the complete look if you’re keen on replicating the Hwarang look. If you’d rather do without it, leaving loose strands of hair, or creating bangs will be a good alternative as well, since his appearance without the headpiece is remembered as a rather messy one.

Gilding Your Own Looks Which Look Like They’ve Been Created By Professional Stylists

A Hanbok resembles a blank canvas, you can truly never go wrong with it. If you’re feeling adventurous enough to give the looks of the idols your own spin, follow these tips to design MAMA red carpet worthy outfits:

  1. Comfort comes first. Idols’ outfits are usually designed for performances which involve a lot of stunts and dancing, which is why they need to be very breathable and easy to move around with. You don’t really need fancy shoes or a hat, the Hanbok staples- the shirt, jacket and tent-shaped skirts or trousers which allow you to move freely are all you need.
  2. Keep the color palette appropriate to the occasion. The color red is considered highly auspicious in Korea and is believed to ward off spirits. Other such bright colors are suitable for festive occasions. Keep the colors muted when you are going for an everyday, effortless look. Light browns, blues and pastel pinks are the most common colors. You should try to not go for an all-black or an all-which look, as these colors denote death.
  3. Choose your brocades wisely. The main characteristic of an idol’s Hanbok is the excellent detailing on his outfit. Going for a high quality brocade ensures that you’re truly looking fancy, and your outfit is appropriate for important occasions. However, plain brocades work just as fine as well if you’re aiming to head out for a casual day in your Hanbok.
  4. Your accessories make your look. Idols are often seen carrying a fan or tying a satchel onto their belts as it gives a true Korean essence to their looks, which is exactly what they’re going for. If you’re feeling a little fancy, don’t hesitate to pair your Hanbok with accessories like fans, satchels, earrings, jewelry and hair clips.
  5. Don’t exploit your Hanbok. It’s a prized Korean tradition, so make sure that you’re wearing it with utmost respect and dignity. If you’re not Korean, only wear a Hanbok when you are requested to do so for a certain important ceremony.

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