Unfortunately, a proper appreciation of hanbok is often neglected by people these days, especially those in their 20s, compared to their much higher preference for clothing from the West.
To rectify this situation and introduce the charm of hanbok to the youth, Park Seon-young (Business, 4) gathered a group of like-minded individuals in April 2011 and founded a society called Hanboknoridan, which means “hanbok party.”
“I envied the large number of Japanese people I saw on the streets wearing traditional clothes. In Korea, by contrast, encountering someone wearing hanbok on the streets is unthinkable. This is because we perceive hanbok as too uncomfortable and formal to wear casually,” Park said.
“To overcome such a perception, and to enhance an understanding of the traditional glamour and beauty that hanbok entails, I decided to create the group.”
Park traced the reason for the bad impression of hanbok to a lack of recreational environments where people can enjoy themselves while wearing hanbok. She began to search for unique events that people could participate in.
“While I was looking for an event or some popular entertainment that has an immense ripple effect online, flash mob occurred to me. A flash mob is often video-taped to depict people performing an unusual act for the purposes of entertainment,” Park said.
“I decided to create a flash mob video showing a group of people wearing hanbok who suddenly assemble in a public place, perform a brief dance, and quickly disperse.”
On Sept. 26, 2011 at Hongdae Playground, 200 people in vivid and colorful hanbok gathered and began identical, choreographed movements to music.
“I saw an online banner inviting people to participate in a flash mob wearing hanbok. As I have been studying in the United States since middle school, I’ve long felt myself lacking knowledge of Korean traditions,” Lee Ye-jin (William Carey University, 2) said.
“I wanted to participate, get to know new people, and have fun before I go back to the States.”
“The day was unbearably hot, and we were all sweating, but when the music began, our discomfort instantly vanished, and we were frenetic with excitement,” Park said.
A flash mob was not the only event held. The 200 people in hanbok split into 10 groups and penetrated the streets of Insadong, Gangnam Station, Myeongdong, and Hongdae Playground, where a lot of people gather.
Together, they strutted about the streets performing parades, taking photos, and holding free-hug events.
“Each group received significant support and attention from foreigners and the elderly. At the end of the day, I realized that many people still recognized the value of hanbok and loved it, but just did not have the opportunity or excuse to wear one,” Park said.
“I hope more dynamic events are organized in the future pioneered by people in their 20s to popularize Korean traditions, especially hanbok,” Heo Neung-kang (Soongsil University, 1) said.
For its creative motivation and its devotion to Korean culture, Hanboknoridan is supported by Cyworld Dream Campaign, which strives to make a person’s vision come true. Also sponsored by SK Communications, Park’s dream of holding a flash mob event of young people wearing hanbok was selected for funding and has received financial aid throughout the process.
“I feel thankful to have won such support. I treasure it as belief in the group’s great devotion to promoting hanbok. I will be back in November with more innovative items and will continue publicizing the beauty of hanbok,” Park said.