Recently, a long time friend visited me in Seoul. It was great to have the opportunity to be a tour guide. Also, it was a chance to feel like a tourist myself. One Saturday, my friend and I decided to explore the northern part of Seoul in hanboks. Hanboks are Korean traditional clothes. Like the colorful, vibrant, elegant, gorgeous and regal looking clothes one sees nobility wearing in historical Korean dramas. This was so exciting for me! At that point I’d lived in Seoul for a year and a half, and been a Yonsei University exchange student for a semester in the past, but still hadn’t worn a proper hanbok. I’d only work the top of one for a photo booth session with friends as a student. I want to share the highlight of this day - from my hanbok selecting experience to the two places I explored in my hanbok.
I chose to rent a hanbok from a rental place called Seohwa Hanbok. I will add the store’s info below. I paid 20,000won for six hours. When you rent a hanbok from Seohwa, you have to leave a cash deposit and passport/ID. There are two ways to do this. First, you can leave your physical passport or ID and give a 10,000won deposit, which is returned to you once you’ve returned the habok. Second, you can leave a copy of your passport or ID and give a 50,000won deposit, which is returned to you once you’ve returned your hanbok. Upon walking in you take off your shoes and get some slippers. Then, you place all your belongings into a bag before proceeding to where all the hanboks are located. An employee will help you figure out your size and guide you over to where all the hanboks in your size are located. You get to try on two hanboks, additional try ons cost extra. The employees help you change into the hanbok. The next step is to accessorize! So you pick a clutch and hair accessories. There is a hair styling area, where an employee will help you perfect your look. I noticed most women opted for a braided look. Once your look is completed, you go to the front desk, where they check your outfit and take a count of all accessories being rented out. This is when you pay the rental, leave a form of identification and pay the deposit. You can leave your belongs with them, so you don’t have to carry everything around.
Bukchon Hanok Village
The hanbok shop is located right in between the two beautiful neighborhoods that make up Bukchon’s hanok village. A hanok is a traditional Korean house. The ones with the gorgeous roof tiles, large wooden features and decorative hinges. This area is popular for foreigners. I’d visited this area last year and wrote about all the reasons to stop by during your stay in Seoul. For more information about this area, I have the link to the Bukchon Hanok Village blog: http://blog.aclipse.net/teach-in-korea/bukchon-hanok-village-must-visit-spot-while-teaching-abroad.
The palace is located a walkable distance from the hanbok rental shop and the hanok village. This is the largest and arguably the most beautiful palace to visit in Seoul. When you visit the palace in a hanbok, there is no entrance fee! So make sure you take advantage of this sweet deal - worth mentioning that the palace is closed on Tuesdays! The palace is home to Gyeonghoeru Pavilion and Hyangwonjeong Pond, which are both historical spots that have gone primarily completely original. While many historical spots have been reconstructed due to being burned during wars, those two were spared. They have special traditional performances around the palace, so be sure to get a guide pamphlet at the entrance with all the performance times and locations. A part of the Gyeongbokgung Palace experience is that it grants you access to the National Palace Museum of Korea and the National Folk Museum. I will have to go back and explore these two spots. I wanted to go to the palace for the great photoshoot opportunity. That was my purpose. There is a great area behind the pavilion that consists of a recreation of historical, traditional palace architecture. This is the best area for photos, since it tends to be less crowded than the pavilion, pond, and front gate areas.
I regret not having rented a hanbok before. In total, I had lived in Seoul for about two years of my life without a hanbok experience. How?? Why?? Don’t go so long before making your own hanbok experience!
B1, 11 Jeokseon-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul
161, Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Giselle Moreno is from California, USA where she attended the University of California, Riverside. While a student, she always worked with international students and she decided to teach English abroad upon graduating during her third year of university. It was through the experiences of being an English tutor for international students that she felt really fulfilled. She found it particularly easy to get along with Korean students which is why she decided to pursue a teaching opportunity in Korea. She even attended Yonsei University in Seoul for a semester as a study abroad student and fell in love with the city. She is currently working at ChungDahm Learning’s April Daechi branch located in Gangnam, Seoul.