[KS] Changes in Chosŏn period costumes

Eugene Y. Park epa at sas.upenn.edu
Fri Oct 10 14:02:11 EDT 2014

Dear Frank,

My impression over the years is that what is in Korean "boksik sa" is a 
well established field of research for Korea. Not sure what you had in 
mind by "most people," as social historians and art historians that I 
talk to seem well aware various changes with regards to accoutrements 
over the Joseon period. Also, even the period dramas of South Korea have 
come a long way since the days, say, 30 years ago when when they 
portrayed early Joseon and late Joseon outfits (e.g. dopo, gat) pretty 
much the same. All the same, I do come across, from time to time, poorly 
produced illustrations (many even by a governmental or semi-governmental 
agency) getting certain details wrong. For example, in Joseon portraits, 
King Taejo wears his belt at what you and I would consider "waist 
level," whereas later monarchs such as Yeongjo and Gojong wear theirs at 
their chest levels, but contemporary illustrations get something like 
this wrong quite often.

Sorry for this horrendously long link below, but this is the list of 
monographs that I got when I did a quick keyword search at the National 
Library website using the terms "조선" and "복식사":


Hope this helps.


Eugene Y. Park
Korea Foundation Associate Professor of History
Director, James Joo-Jin Kim Program in Korean Studies
University of Pennsylvania

On 10/10/2014 7:16 AM, Frank Hoffmann wrote:
> Dear All:
> Another question:
> Are there any studies about CHANGES that occurred over time in Chosŏn
> period costumes?
> I understand that this is probably not exactly the kind of research
> that folklorists, historians, or other researchers in or outside of
> Korea would get much credit for (not since the 1990s anyway), but it is
> still a fascinating area. Works like those by Professors Deuchler,
> Duncan, and others point to all the major social and cultural changes
> in the 'building' of Chosŏn. I may have well missed that (!), but are
> there any works  -- books or articles or dissertations -- that deal
> with how such changes are reflected visually when it comes to costumes?
> Most people seem to view Chosŏn period costumes as something
> "unchangeable," "stable," and an expression of a "monolithic system" --
> yet, as we know the system was not as monolithic. When seeing something
> that seems unusual or even funny (as it does not conform with what we
> perceive as the norm for a certain period -- may it be the 1920s or the
> stone age), then we often tend to hold the artist responsible for his
> allegedly "wrong" perception and depiction.
> What I especially wonder as regards to the Chosŏn period, as I begin to
> see some visual proof for that, is if there were changes in costumes
> after the Manchu established the Qing Dynasty in China, and after the
> first contacts with Westerners (and/or after closer contacts to the
> Japanese) in the 1880s.
> Any leads will be much appreciated.
> Best wishes,
> Frank
> --------------------------------------
> Frank Hoffmann
> http://koreanstudies.com

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