Ever felt like you wanted to travel around the world with a unique theme or with a special message? Some people choose to carry a particular plush toy to take pictures with at every destination. There are some who scribbles down a special quote everywhere he or she visits. This time around, we are going to see people who carry out their adventure dressed in their traditional costumes.
As a lot of people know, Hanbok is the traditional costume of Korea. It’s vibrant, unique and heavily reflects the country’s roots. Recently, there has been a trend to travel wearing Hanbok to make the journey more meaningful. Why do people decide to travel in such outfits? To answer this question, we’ve conducted an interview with Minjeong Kim (@iammin._.j) who traveled to South America in Hanbok.
HOKK fabrica: Hf｜Minjeong : M
Hf: What motivated you to travel around the world in Hanbok? Was there a special reason?
M: I’ve always loved traveling and promised myself that I would travel around the world before graduating from university. I wanted to experience the education system of the States and meet people from different cultures. At one point, it hit me. Just as how I learn about different languages and cultures from those I encounter during my journey, why don’t I also give those who I meet chances to get to know about Korea? That’s when I started to wonder about the best way to present the image of Korea, and I chose to present it with Hanbok, which I think best represents Korea’s exquisite visual beauty. The visual itself was enough to cast an effect, so from that day onwards, Hanbok has always been part of my travels.
Hf: Was there was a memorable episode from your journey?
M: Honestly, I truly believe that Hanbok made my journeys unforgettable. Peru, Bolivia, wherever I showed up, I felt like a celebrity. A great number of locals and tourists’ curiosity about my dress and my culture led them to approach me and ask a lot of questions. There were many memorable episodes, but if I were to pick one, it was when I was traveling through Bolivia. I was exhausted from carrying a heavy backpack and holding up my ankle long dress from falling, and the 4000m above sea level made it even harder for me to breathe. When I finally arrived at a hostel I got kicked out as I just finished unpacking. Apparently, there was someone who was willing to pay more for the room. After some arguments I had no choice but to pack up and leave. I dragged my swollen feet and climbed over another hill to check into a different hostel. When I finally settled down, even though I was exhausted I couldn’t bear to waste another waste another moment to miss such a beautiful scenery so I headed out. As I headed out I ran into a Brazilian family who were actually looking for me in concern as they have seen me argue with the owner of the previous hostel. They asked me if I was willing to accompany them for dinner and I complied. As I sat down and had a conversation with them, turns out, there were fascinated by my costume and came looking for me because they wanted to hear about the story of a small Asian girl with an ankle long dress traveling around South America all by herself. That night the conversation was all about Korea and I also got to teach them how to write their names in Korean. By the end of the night I was invited to a wine party where I got to meet people from all over the world. It was truly an unforgettable night under stars by the Titicaca Lake.
Hf: Out of all the countries, why did you choose to travel to South America?
M: I wanted my journey to be the road less taken by others. The curiosity and passion to explore the lesser known South America, and to prove that even as a first backpacker that I could still make it. Now that I think about it, I guess it was a challenge against myself.
Hf: What have you earned or felt from your journeys?
M: I learned how to explore the unfamiliar situations, deal with the constant changes and face the challenges that were in my way. I learned how to talk, and become friends with those I met on the road, and to share cultures with. I guess the best thing about this trip was there were no “set goals” as to what I wanted from this trip but everything, including myself felt special and every action became a message in which I naturally acquired and learned from. I honestly believe that Hanbok played a big role in making my trip so special.
Hf: Do you have any other travel plans with Hanbok on?
M: Of course! I’m currently saving up for a journey to Africa. To be very frank, travelling isn’t all that sunshine and rainbows. From time to time my foot got swollen from extreme coldness, and my skin got burnt from extreme sunlight. However, the footsteps I took in Hanbok made me forget about all of my pains and worries, because when I put that dress on, I was the national ambassador for Korea I couldn’t frown even for a minute, as I was the face of my culture. Every smile felt sincere and led to a truthful smile. Because of these merits, I can’t help but travel around in Hanbok.
Sick and tired of the same routine every day? How about exploring different parts of the world for a while? I guarantee that with the new perspectives, your world will never be the same again. Before we finish, here’s a last word from Minjeong. If you travel with your own special theme, the journey is going to be more meaningful and will be an unforgettable experience. We’re still young and youth is a period of infinite possibilities and when we can take risks. If you want to feel the world, make a move now!
Photo courtesy of Minjeong Kim
INTERVIEW & TEXT: JINJOO KWON
CHINESE TRANSLATION: ELLEN N
DESIGN: JOANNE L/HOKK FABRICA
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