January 1, 2020

Renting Hanbok in Seoul

Wearing Hanbok is always on the lists of things to do during a trip to Korea.

So on the first day of my trip to Seoul, I headed to Bukchon Hanok Village and rented myself a traditional Hanbok for a couple of hours.

A hanbok is the name given to traditional clothing in Korea. Around 1oo years ago, it was work every day but now it is mainly reserved for special occasions. The colours and patterns used to show off your class and marital status.

When I was picking my Hanbok, I loved looking through all of the beautiful patterns and designs that you could choose from. I opted for a pink flower design because I do love a good flower!

Sophie wearing a pink and white Hanbok in Seoul

Is it okay to wear Hanbok?

I must admit before doing this, I was a bit concerned about whether a tourist wearing a traditional Korean dress would be considered cultural appropriation.

I read up on other blogs but I still couldn’t decide whether it was okay. A lot of people said “the locals love it” but it didn’t really convince me.

So I spoke to the Korean Tourist Board in London who were so lovely to take their time to respond to my concerns.

They explained that they often host events where they encourage people to try Hanbok as a way of learning more about Korean culture.

“It’s necessary to be respectful and exercise a bit of sensitivity,” they told me.

They also said that most Koreans are delighted to share traditional Korean culture and wearing Hanbok is something that encourages this.

Tip: Some palaces actually give you free entry if you’re wearing Hanbok in Seoul!

Where to rent a Hanbok

I got mine from Flowery Hanbok as it was recommended by Gina Bear’s Blog. There’s a good selection and it’s right at the beginning of the Hanok village.

They offer a range of services including Hanbok rental, hair braiding and make-up – although for the last two, you have to book them in advance.

The staff there are friendly and speak English, Korean and Mandarin. They help you put the Hanbok on and explain how you wear it. They’re also very patient when you’re choosing!

I was a bit worried about whether they’d have something that would fit me but actually they catered for all sizes.

Another good thing about Flowery Hanbok is that it’s very close to the palaces and folk museum. I felt a little self conscious in my Hanbok so was very grateful at not having to walk very far to get some good pictures.

Tip: If you’re going in winter, make sure you pack some thermals or thick tights to wear underneath.

Hanbok Rental from Flowery Hanbok is as follows:

If you choose a more intricate Hanbok, there is an additional ₩5,000 charge.

It’s also ₩5,000 to have your hair braided. I arrived quite late in the day so decided not to go ahead with the hair braiding, although if I was to visit again, i’d definitely give it a go.

For those travelling solo, or those wanting professional pics, they also have a photographer that you can book.

Sophie in a Hanbok at the folk museum

So what’s it really like wearing Hanbok?

As soon as I stepped outside, I was really self conscious about people staring but actually when I turned the corner towards the palace, I saw so many other people wearing Hanbok that we were almost part of a cool group.

Any doubts about whether I looked silly or was being culturally inappropriate soon disappeared.

Wearing Hanbok in Seoul made me feel very graceful – I thought they were absolutely beautiful. Although what you don’t realise from the pictures is that it as -8C! I had a thick pair of jeans on underneath!

I really enjoyed my time wearing Hanbok but definitely thought that two hours were enough especially due to Flowery Hanbok’s location.

When I got back to Flowery Hanbok, they also had a couple of spots inside the shop where you could take pictures which was very useful.

So would I recommend it? Absolutely!

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