The New York Times has put the spotlight on the traditional Korean clothing Hanbok as shown by the acclaimed Apple TV+ series "Pachinko," a story about four generations of a Korean family set in Korea, Japan, and the U.S.
In the article "One Garment's Journey Through History," the daily on April 9 said, "The evolution of the Korean hanbok is a lens into the history of the country, which is now being traced in the series 'Pachinko.'"
"The traditional Korean hanbok, made to accommodate movement, is as beautiful as it is functional," it added. "Hanbok has reflected variations and styles over its more than 2,000-year history... Before the introduction of Western styles to Korea, it was simply everyday wear."
The Times called the series a "watershed moment" in American TV entertainment. While dramas depicting Korean life in the early 20th century are common on Korean TV, the article said, the "trilingual series, told in Korean, Japanese and English, takes care to portray, in intimate, humanizing detail, such elements of everyday Korean life from the early 20th century."
The protagonist Sunja, a girl born during the Japanese occupation of Korea to poor parents in Busan, grows up cooking and running errands. Her Hanbok outfit, made from crushed cotton and muslin, is the historical result of advice from experts. As time passes, her outfit undergoes subtle changes.
Soo Hugh, the Korean American executive producer of "Pachinko," was quoted as saying "hanbok made from hemp and cotton moves differently," adding, "We wanted to capture that detail as a storytelling tool for our characters, and their economic conditions as well."
Amid increased xenophobic violence and crimes against Asians because of COVID-19, The Times said, some Korean Americans have embraced Hanbok as a symbol of their cultural pride in the face of racism.