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Hanbok enjoys global popularity thanks to Korean Wave

Posted July. 11, 2020 08:01,   

Updated July. 11, 2020 08:01


Korea’s traditional costume, Hanbok, is emerging as one of the hottest clothes in the global fashion industry thanks to the Korean Wave.

The music video for the South Korean four-member girl band Blackpink’s “How You Like That” has set a world record by hitting 200 million views on YouTube for eight days after the release. The girl band appeared on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” wearing phoenix patterned outfits inspired by hanbok and attracted the attention of some 210,000 viewers from around the world. There are already many dance covers of the song on YouTube, where international fans reenact Blackpink’s choreography wearing modified hanbok.

Blackpink’s modified hanbok was designed by Danha, 30, CEO of the brand Danhajoodan. “I’m just blown away by all the attention,” she said during an interview held at a café in Seochon, central Seoul.

―What was the reaction from abroad after the music video was released?

“The outfits Blackpink wore in the music video are being sold in our online shop. After the music video was released, about 3,000-4,000 international fans visit our website a day to buy the outfits. Over half of the visitors are from the U.S. and the rest is from Europe and Asia.”

―Tell us about the Blackpink’s outfits.

“The pink outfit Jennie wore in the video is called “dopo,” which is an outer clothing worn by classical scholars in the Joseon Dynasty. It is sold at 520,000 won at our website. Blackpink’s agency, YG Entertainment, modified the clothing so that Jennie can dance easily on stage. They turned the 74-centimeter-long dopo into a short crop jacket and used the remaining fabric as a skirt. The crop top worn by Rosé (140,000 won) is an undergarment worn by women in the Joseon Dynasty to support the breasts. The phoenix pattern on the clothing is inspired by the royal wrapping cloth from the Joseon Dynasty. The black outer clothing she wore over it is called “cheollik (880,000 won),” which is a uniform worn by military officers.”

―Some fans in Korea find the “crop top hanbok” strange.

“Some K-pop boybands including BTS wore hanbok in their music videos. But this is the first time Korean fans saw a Korean girl band dancing fiercely wearing hanbok. Different styles of hanbok have been in fashion in different eras. It’d be nice to introduce hanbok to foreigners as an outfit suitable for stages and parties.”

―How did you get to work with Blackpink?

“People think that I come from an affluent family. But I’m just a designer of a second-year startup who has no strings to pull. YG contacted me about two weeks before the release of the music video. The hanbok outfits Blackpink wore in the video are the looks I had submitted for an exhibition at the Vancouver Fashion Week in October last year. I guess the stylist from YG saw the outfits there. I was worried if the hanbok scenes would be edited out in the final version of the video. After seeing my outfits on the video, my staff and I burst into tears of joy.”

―What are you future plans?

“I would bring hanbok with me whenever I traveled abroad from my mid-20s. I took many pictures of me wearing hanbok. A lot of foreigners who complimented my outfit asked me if it was a kimono. By collaborating with many K-pop stars, I want to promote hanbok and make it a byword for Asian traditional clothing. I wish hanbok would be recognized as a high-end item at major department stores around the world like Shanghai Tang, a high-end qipao brand, which is being sold at major department stores around the world.”

Seung-Hoon Cheon raphy@donga.com