Chima-Jeogori for Michelle Obama

18 Jan

A Park Sul-nyeo Original (Chosun Daily)I’m not a fan of Choseon-era traditional clothing. It’s laughable – yet diplomatically polite – to picture Michelle Obama in this accessorized garbage bag (see photo left). It’s hard to conceive, that both men and women find this apparel expressive of the feminine form. Indeed, both my wife and numerous female students, when I ask them about modernized versions of hanbok, have told me the chima jeogori is uncomfortable and inconvenient. With all the undergarments, the whole contraption is like a tent, or some 18th Century aristocratic gown. It’s not that I think the kimono or modern qipao is any more comfortable, either. And, too, the Korean taste in color is a cross between a rabid tomcat and a portrait painter’s kit.

I have to admit: I do own an excellent silken set of baji (pants) and jeogori. My wife informs me its of a conservative design far superior to the scandalous fashion in Seoul. Yet, I prefer pre-Choseon, namely the Three Kingdoms-era, aristocratic clothing, particularly for women. The clothing I notice in TV dramas is also more appealing. It seems clothing for women became both baggier and bulkier, and more unflattering to any human form as the centuries elapsed. It also seems men and women’s clothing was more similar, without surrendering anything to the difference in body types. I just cannot understand, why, when hanbok is so different from modern western clothing, fusing older fashions, from a time before traditions became fixed and unwavering, with western ones might yield a fresher design.

Then, Michelle Obama could wear that at a ball.

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