5th WSK ~ Lesson on Korean Etiquette and Hanbok


My most favorite schedule is learning Korean etiquette while wearing Hanbok at Etiquette Educational Centre in Suwon City. Yes, I always want to wear Hanbok. It’s lovely to me.hehe!  I used to wear in once I was in Cambodia. Back there, we just wear for beauty. Knowing nothing.  However, during our tour, we had a special lecture, and I did learn a lot. Here I’m gonna share with you.

These are what we learned:

1~ how to tie the cloth correctly

First, our teacher separated girls and guys, so that she can easy introduce how to wear the cloth properly. For our handsome guys, first they need put on inner trousers, then the upper shirt “jeogori” . Usually socks “beoseon” were the last one.  The girls were laughing at how the guys trousers are longer than their legs and the string will made them tripped over. Suddenly, our teachers surprised because they actually did not finish the process yet. Guys need to tie that strings “daenim,” around his ankles as well in order to pull up their loose and make them easier to walk or work.  “Magoja,”  a kind of waistcoat, is necessary when going out as well as long coat “durumagi”  which make men look formal.

Some of our beautiful girls used to learn to wear Hanbok at school, but they still seems to be wrong, especially on how to tie the bow. When wearing Hanbok, first we put on inner trousers, then inner skirts first, followed by socks ” beoseon”. Please note that, the line of inner skirts need to be wrapped the body in contrast way, so that we can tie it in the front over the chest (it is not tied at back).  On top of that, we can put on the upper wear “jeogori”. Also, here we need to be careful on how to tie the knots, cloth strings “otgoreum” by making the bow up to the left and leave the long string down the right. When leaving the house, “durumagi” overcoat can be worn as well. 

2~ how to bow showing respect correctly (men and women)

*Note: from this section, the below texts are from Korea.net webpage.

Among the traditional etiquette that continues to be practiced in Korea, there is “jeol” an act of bowing down on knees. It is a Korean way of acknowledging families and colleagues, classified into four kinds.

First there is “ban-jeol” meaning “half-bow.” It is an elder’s blowing response toward young ones or those in lower status. Then there’s “pyong-jeol” meaning “ordinary bow.” Such is a light bow exchanged between friends and others similar in status.

“Keun-jeol” meaning “deep bow” which is conducted during birthdays and banquets, do not require elders to respond to junior’s bows. A very deep blow meaning “bae-rye” takes place during four most important rituals in life, the coming-of-age ceremony, marriage, funeral and ancestral rites.

Today, jeol is not necessarily practiced in daily basis, but comes in handy when visiting Korean houses during special holidays and family occasions. In fact, while daily light jeols are hardly practiced, deep bows managed to go on due to this reason.

We look like celebrities here!!

(This above picture is credited to Lisa Liang)

In the woman’s case the right hand folds on top of the left, with hands and elbows raised to shoulder level. With eyes cast downward, she must sit with her left leg bending first, followed by her right and bow only halfway down. In return, the elders give a blessing or in the case of little children, some pocket money or a gift.

Sorry that I do not have a picture of how the guys do the “jeol”, but as it was said a man must fold his two hands together – left hand covering right hand – kneeling and bringing his head all the way down to the ground for a deep bow, with his elbows out away from the body. When bowing down, the left leg must bend first.

3~ how difference the color and style  of Hanbok making different prospect.

Hanbok comes in several styles: there is “dolbok” the clothing for a baby on its first birthday; “gwanryebok” the clothing for the coming-of-age ceremony; “hollyebok” the clothing for the wedding ceremony and “hwarot” the bridal gown; “sangryebok” ( or “sangbok”), the clothing worn by the bereaved during the mourning period and “suui” the shroud worn by a corpse and finally “jeryebok” the clothing for religious services.

The green color and style usually was worn by the queen.

Hanbok boast vivid colors based on natural hues that accord with the yin and yang theory of East Asia. White was the basic color most widely used by common people, symbolizing a modest and pure spirit. Red signified good fortune and wealth, commonly used in women’s garments. Indigo, the color of constancy was used for skirts of court ladies and official coats of court officials. Yellow, which represents the center of the universe, was worn by royal families. The clothing has been handed down in the same form for men and women for hundreds of years with little change, except for the length of jeogori and chima.

4~ how to do during Tea Ceremony

The tea ceremony usually begins with the host and the guest greeting each other with deep bows, then sit comfortably, usually on the floor. A tea set consists of a tea pot, three to five cups, a bowl for warming the pot and a smaller bowl for cooling the water, wooden saucers and occasionally “dasik,” a Korean traditional snack.

When serving, the water should be boiled to 100 degrees Celsius for the tea sets to be ready. The tea utensils should be laid out in order of their usage: the water cooling bowl, the tea pot and tea cups. Hot water should be poured in all cups briefly to match the temperature of the tea, and then it can be thrown away.

About two grams of tea per person is put in the pot. The slightly cooled down water from the water cooling bowl (about 70 Celsius) is poured in. The host waits for about two minutes then pours the liquid in the cups.

Tea should not be gulped down at once. Rather, it should be admired: first its color, then its fragrance, and finally its taste. Usually, three sips per cup are appropriate to drain the entire contents. The tea cup must be held firm on the bottom with the left hand, with the right hand on top.

We did learned a lot from this etiquette lesson, and this time if I have a chance to visit my Korean friend family, hopefully, I will not get embarrased because of my poor etiquette anymore.