Project Updates · The Locals

object_ive: A Hanbok, from Korea

Last autumn, we invited people from all diverse backgrounds, living and working in Sutton, to share images and words about objects that connect to their heritage. In her contribution, a member of the Sutton Cultural Services team shared a photograph of her traditional Korean Hanbok. She reflected on its cultural significance, and how the object has been a means of sharing her Korean heritage.

The participant’s Hanbok.

What is your object?

My object is a hanbok for a girl around eight years old. Hanbok (한복) is the name given to the traditional clothing worn in Korea. Originally, it was worn on a daily basis. Nowadays, hanbok is worn at occasions such as weddings, funerals (a special white hanbok), traditional holidays (such as New Year), and ceremonies (such as ancestral rituals). There is also a special Hanbok Day on the 21st October each year in South Korea where people are encouraged to wear their hanbok.   

For girls, as pictured, hanbok consists of a jeogori (저고리, jacket), a chima (치마, skirt), and sok chima (속치마, underskirt/petticoat, not pictured). You can also wear sok baji (속바지, trousers worn underneath) and attach accessories such as bokjumeoni (복주머니, silk pouches, pictured). On the jeogori, there is a specific way to tie the goreum (고름, the ribbons on the jacket).

There are a number of styles for hanbok. For example, the rather fetching rainbow-striped sleeves on my hanbok is a style typically worn by children (saekdongot, 색동옷). While I do love the elegant hanbok I wear now as someone much older than eight years old, my rainbow sleeved hanbok holds a special place in my heart for all the memories made with my family while wearing it.

Where does this object live?

This hanbok lives at the back of the wardrobe, safely packaged away in its own box. 

What story does this object tell?

For me, this hanbok is one of the most tangible links I have to my heritage (with the exception of food). Growing up, almost no-one my age knew of, or had even heard of, Korea. Therefore, when the opportunity came to share our cultures, I remember with pride how my friends admired the way my hanbok flowed, the intricate detailing on the silk, and the matching daenggi (댕기, a ribbon to tie and decorate braided hair) in my hair.

As well as this, I have many fond memories of excitedly helping older family members get the hanbok out from the depths of the wardrobe to wear for a photograph to send to our family in Korea for Lunar New Year. Speaking of which, as Lunar New Year 2021 approaches, I think it’s an excellent time to go down memory lane…

The Locals: object_ive aims at celebrating the diverse communities of Sutton, and sharing what heritage means to each of us. Do you have an object meaningful to you that you would like to share? Get in touch at


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