Modern Twist of Hanbok Captures Youngsters

2007-06-05 : 17:48

Korean traditional costume hanbok designer Bae Young-jin, seen here in her shop Coser in Jongno, downtown Seoul, merges modern elements in her designs.
By Cathy Rose A. Garcia
Staff Reporter

When the MBC drama ``Gung,'' or ``Princess Hours,'' was aired early last year, it quickly became a hit. It wasn't just the fact that the TV series was based on a popular comic book by Park So-hee about a royal family in Korea that kept viewers coming back for more.

The stylish sets and fashionable costumes also caught the eye of many viewers. The feminine, modern hanbok-inspired dresses worn by Yun Eun-hye as a modern-day Korean princess attracted much attention.

Not many people know the designer behind the stylish, yet distinctly Korean costumes that were truly befitting of a modern royal family.

Designer Bae Young-jin created costumes that combined elements of the traditional hanbok with a modern sensibility. It was her background as a hanbok designer that got the attention of the drama producers to ask her to make the costumes for the hit series.

In an interview with The Korea Times at her shop Coser in Jongno-gu, Seoul, Bae said that she took much inspiration from the original comic book.

In last year's hit MBC drama "Gung," or Princess Hours, actress Yun Eun-hye, wears a hanbok-inspired dress designed by Bae Young-jin.
``I looked at the characters' costumes in the comic book, and I adjusted it. Everyone liked the style of the clothes (in ``Gung'') because it is very modern, and not too much like traditional hanbok,'' she said.

Bae took traditional hanbok-making classes at a hanbok museum. However, she knew she wanted to design something different by modernizing hanbok.

Bae said young Koreans should see hanbok as a fashionable outfit. With the success of the drama, she noted there is a growing interest in hanbok among young Koreans.

``It was very important because the young generation did not know much about traditional hanbok. I held lectures about the traditional Korean hanbok and modern hanbok. I wanted to show the beauty of hanbok but also emphasize that tradition is still very important,'' she said.

Most of her customers have hanbok made for special occasions like weddings, New Year celebrations and parties. Her shop features a wide range of colorful, yet tasteful hanbok made of silk and natural materials.

Even though the TV series ended in March last year here, the drama has been being shown in several Asian countries, which is why some foreign fans drop by her shop. Aside from curious fans, Bae said she also has some Japanese and American customers.

Bae has already held fashion shows in the United States and Japan. She is also expanding her business abroad, opening her first overseas shop in New Jersey last October, she said.