Archive for March, 2010

The Hanbok

Author: Jamie

The colourful world of the Korean hanbok

You may have heard reference to the hanbok in some of our posts. We apologize for not explaining sooner, as it is a very important part of the wedding custom and Korean culture and history in general.

On our wedding day, the bride and groom and our immediate families will be decked out in colourful, silk, traditional robes called ‘hanbok’. Hanbok are Korea’s version of the Japanese kimono but with a very unique style. They tend to be simpler, more straight cut, with solid, vibrant colours and less patterned than Kimonos. According to Wikipedia, the term literally means “Korean clothing”, though hanbok today often refers specifically to hanbok of the Joseon Dynasty and is worn as semi-formal or formal wear during traditional festivals and celebrations.

Historically, the style, colour and fabric of hanbok helped to distinguish between the social classes. Because Korea is considered a country consisting of one ethnicity (Korean’s consider their entire ethnic population as ‘one blood’) the hanbok represents a very important cultural symbol and its transformation over the centuries parallel’s the transformation of the country itself.

This is what Rory and I will wear over our hanbok. They are historically reserved for royalty.

Rory, her mom and I have already picked out our hanbok and my family will be fitted for theirs when they arrive in Seoul. On the wedding day, in addition to our hanbok, Rory and I will be wearing the traditional robes of the royal court. That is, the official colours and robes worn by the emporer. Weddings, traditionally, were the only time that common classes could wear these clothes and the royal colours, as they were normally expected to wear cotton, plain or white coloured hanbok. My brother will have a different outfit as he will have a more active role in the wedding, about which I’ll explain more in a later post.

For our wedding my brother Tyler will be wearing the traditional dress of the male aristocrat

The hanbok has begun making its way into Western culture thanks to actors like Nicolas Cage marrying Koreans but also because of the slow emigration of Koreans and the young generations who are making a mark on the world. The hanbok has even made it into the World of Warcraft.

Alice Kim Cage hanbok sexy

Nicolas Cage and his wife Alice Kim Cage in traditional hanbok

There are many designers in Korea and around the world who are modernizing the hanbok into fashionable and sometimes sexy pieces. Acclaimed hanbok designer Lee Young-hee,  considered the “Korean Vera Wang,” combines tradition and modernity by using  unique color for her high-end wedding line.  Her work is featured as part of the new permanent collection,  The Korea Gallery at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History . Other hanbok designers include Kim Hee-soo and Lie Sang Bong who add unique flair to the hanbok design while staying true to the historical form.

modern hanbok design

Some less wearable hanbok-influenced styles

modern hanbok design

This one on the other hand is a beautiful piece

Let us know if you have any questions  about the hanbok.


Dried squid looks appetizing

Whether it’s hot dog vendors in Toronto, kabob grills in Damascus, fried insects in Xian or iced milk coffee in Ho Chi Min City, there is something inherently urban about the outdoor cafeteria. It’s also something that is severely lacking in Dubai (and a little less in Abu Dhabi) and could be a major reason why I don’t feel that Dubai is a real city.

Koreans, if you didn’t know, love eating. That’s why you pretty much can’t walk five minutes in any direction in Seoul’s city core without hitting some kind of a street vendor selling Korean street food. And from all my travels, I’ve never witnessed such a variety of edibles as can be tasted in the dark alleyways and glitzy boulevards of Seoul.

Common street stall buffet

Mind you, there are a lot of odd things on the menu. Previous posts of Strange Korean Foods, were mostly all foods found at street stalls or in subway kiosks. Those would be beondegi (silk worm larvae) and walnut cakes. However almost anything is for sale if it can be eaten. From french fry-covered hotdogs on sticks to any and every type of sea food that can be dried or deep fried, there are options for all tastes.  For breakfast, Korean-style toast sandwiches can be purchased from shop windows. These have become so popular that they have even created chains.

Another truth about Koreans is that, as much as they love to eat, they always have to drink when they eat. That’s probably why all sorts of beers and spirits can be purchased in corner stores and also why many street vendors also set up tents and tables around their stalls. Makeshift alfresco dining and drinking is a common sight in Seoul and something that I think adds a heck of a lot of character to the city.

Street food tents (with soju)

So if you make it to Korea, I suggest you check out the food on the street. Mostly it is safe and fresh because they are constantly doing business and they don’t really sell things that can go bad. Try going to stalls that have a lot of Koreans eating at them. The food only costs a dollar or sometimes less so there is no harm in trying, even if you don’t like it and throw it away.

This guy sells really great fried potato sticks in a cup.

Here are some guides to the different things you can find on the street in Seoul:

장동건 & 고소영

Korean Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie

For those of you who aren’t Korean or aren’t into K-Stars (Korean movie/TV/performance Stars) you might be wondering who these people are and what they are doing on our wedding blog. I didn’t know who they were either but Rory called me the other day in a panic while I was at work to tell me that Jang Dong Gun and Go So Young,  Korea’s version of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have announced their marriage and that it will be the exact same date as ours, May 2, 2010.

While I think this is a good thing, Rory isn’t so sure. With all the shamanistic considerations that were taken into account for our wedding date and the fact that two of the most famous Koreans on the planet also chose this date means that we need to give our shaman a bonus or something. It must be good luck right?

Well girls kinda see this sort of thing differently I guess. Firstly, it means that Jang Dong Gun & Ko So Young won’t be able to make it to our wedding :( Secondly, a lot of other famous movie stars and politicians won’t be coming to ours either :( Thirdly, the newspapers and television news channels will likely not cover our little traditional Korean wedding, opting for the likely enormous and elaborate white wedding of these two stars.

Steal our thunder will you?

One thing to note, the wedding will be held at the Shilla Hotel, which is where my dad will be staying. I think this is cool.

According to One Asian World, Jang Dong Gun, 38, announced his marriage to model/actress Go So Young, 37, at his fan meeting on March 6th at the COEX Auditorium in Seoul. The transcript below.

There’s something I would like to say to everyone.

When I was preparing and filming for The Way of the Warrior, I was often by myself overseas and thought a lot over about my life. Many thoughts would then surface to mind. I felt that besides living my life as an actor, I should also live my life as a man. At that moment, I began to develop thoughts of spending the rest of my life with a friend of mine who have been by my side all this while.

On May 2nd, I will be getting married with my closest friend, colleague and my love, Go So Young. Actually, to be able to stand here and say this is because of the courage that all of you have given me. So I hope to get the blessings of everyone here first. In times when the economy and society isn’t doing very well, I know that my actions of announcing about my happiness might be questioned, so I chose to be cautious about it. I really thank everyone for their concern but on the other hand, I hope that we can sincerely go about this in a quiet manner. I will not neglect my life as an actor and I will strive to do my best to make everyone proud. I will not let you down and please continue to show us support.

Thank you.

Movie 'Yeon Poong Yeon Ga' where the couple met

Congratulations to Jang Dong Gun and Go So Young. May we share this beautiful spring day together and be blessed with the happiest futures forever after.

Related news:

allkpop – Jang Dong Gun and Ko So Young are a couple

All Korean Gossip – Jang Dong-Gun + Go So-Young update

Jamie’s Trippin’ – Top 5 ways in which Jang Dong Gun and Ko So Young are like Jamie and Rory