Yeseul’s Essay on How Korean Traditional Culture is Adapting to Modernity

I argue that ancient culture should change their form simply or conveniently to reconcile with a modern world in our life. These days, many modern people think ancient culture is outdated and very complex to enjoy. Because of those reasons, many ancient cultures are disappearing. Modern society regards convenience and simplicity as important things, because modern society is more complex than the past and requires so many things in a short time. So I think we should change ancient culture more simply and convenient for enjoying. I found good examples in the changes of Hanbok (Korean traditional clothes), how to make Hanji (Korean traditional paper), the changes of Hanok (Korean traditional house) and the application of Korean traditional wedding to new Korean style wedding way.

First, I made a video about how to put on women’s Hanbok, so I could find some good changes in wearing Hanbok. The hardest part of putting on Hanbok for people who don’t wear Hanbok often is tying Goreum. So modern people changed it to be convenient. They get rid of Goreum, and use a frog closure or snap fasteners. And Korean traditional socks, Boseon, have ‘Sunuk’. Traditionally, people had to look at Sunuk to see which was the left and right Boseon. However these days, people make Bosoen which doesn’t have left or right, so people can wear it more easily. Also, the skirt of Hanbok was changed. The length of the skirt is shorter than before, because traditional skirt was too long for people to walk quickly in everyday life. Besides, people reduced the width of sleeves of Hanbok for convenience. Putting on traditional Hanbok took more time than wearing western style clothes. So modern people changed the forms to wear it easily and conveniently. I also found an internet shopping mall to sell modernized Hanbok. I think this is the solution about how to reconcile ancient culture with a modern world. If we stick to original and traditional Hanbok, modern people cannot feel interest in Hanbok and they do not pay attention to Hanbok. As a result Hanbok can be forgotten by a modern world. Also, the internet shopping mall makes younger people access easily to buy Hanbok. So I think we should accept modernization and adjust our ancient things to a modern world. I think this is the solution to prevent ancient things’ disappearing and reconcile with a modern world.

Second, I could find the effort to make ancient culture more simple and convenient in how to make Hanji. Traditionally, to drain Hanji, ancient people used stone or heavy wood. However in these days, people use some machine to drain Hanji. If people use machine, they can drain quicker and conveniently. And modern people also use machine to dry Hanji, while ancient people used this methods: Sunlight drying, Wooden board drying, and Floor heating drying. Sunlight drying is to dry Hanji under the sun. Wooden board drying is using wood when they dry Hanji. Floor heating drying is to dry Hanji on warm floor. These methods require too much time, and the maker should care more to dry Hanji. So modern people started to use machine to dry Hanji much faster and easier than using traditional methods. I think this change is very important, because ancient culture should think about its productivity and cost. These days, a lot of modern people don’t find Hanji for their everyday life’ paper. In short, there is a scant demand, so now paper makers have hard times to earn money. However through they changed the process of making Hanji, they can produce more Hanji in a short time and less cost. These days, we live in capitalism society, so we should care about the cost. I think if enjoying ancient culture requires too much money and time, modern people don’t want to cost their money and time. So I think we should find strategies like Hanji production.

Third, Hanok is also changed its form for convenience and simplicity. Traditionally, Hanok heated itself with Ondol which is the traditional heating system. However I think Ondol system is not proper in a modern world. Ondol system is complex to establish and people couldn’t control the temperature freely. Also, people needed firewood to heat house, if they use Ondol system in Hanok. So people accepted new boiler system in Hanok. Besides, Hanok accepted western style toilet. Traditionally, the toilet of Hanok was located in outside of house. However it was so uncomfortable, so people changed it. And traditional door of Hanbok was made with wood and paper, but it was hard to retain. So Hanok use glasses for its doors, but it maintain the form of traditional doors.

Fourth, I want to talk about the wedding style to explain how to reconcile ancient culture and a modern world. I watched Haeon’s video and I found there are some limits to allow strictly the rules of traditional wedding. For example, a groom can’t appear with riding a horse in the city. And the rules of the traditional wedding can be complex for new generation in these days. So modern people simplify the rules and add it in modern wedding style. It is called ‘Pyebaek’.

Consequently, the ancient culture which I mention in this paper: Hanbok, Hanji, Hanok and the traditional wedding maintain the essence of them, but they changed their uncomfortable things to reconcile with a modern world in our lives. And also the ancient culture accept modern thing like internet or machine to reconcile with a modern world. So I think these changes are good and necessary, because these changes make ancient things remain around us and reconcile with a new world, not becoming extinct, for reason which is uncomfortable and complex. However also, I am little worried about that people more concentrate the convenience and simplicity, so it can cause losing of our own ancient culture. Therefore I think we should be careful to change our ancient things to be more convenient and simple. In short, we should change properly to harmony modern life, but also we should be careful not to lose our own things.


Traditional Wedding in korea

Hello! My name is Yang Ha-eon. I’m a first year student of Hanguk University of Foreign Studies. I want to explain to you about Korea’s traditional wedding ceremony~!

Related Videos List:  hope you enjoy it!! And also please watch my another video about Bowing. It will teach you how to bow in special day or events.

Sources List




  • Gim yundeok – “Geomungo Sanjo”

This year, Korea suffered lots of things. Especially, Sewol-ho disaster was the most tragic incident. Many performances and ideological movements were shown. I think these are the moral and attempt to make new things to do not repeat the tragic incident. History always gives us experience and moral. Furthermore at this point of time, history still attempts to tell us something. However, it may be asked whether we have ears can hear that. In performance and life, we can feel it and it is called Han. Because Han is in our DNA that consists of experience, it makes us share history and life.

Many performers and scholars attempt to arrange the stage that can combine modern and tradition. But we already combine and share modern and tradition through Han. As I studied and watched some performances, I felt sharing of Han. If someone asked me the question “what and where is the Han” Then my feeling such as love, charge, sadness and an overflowing joy will be basis. The feeling Han is the medium that connect modern and traditional culture. Especially, I felt deep sorrow when I heard pungmulnori. In Honam Udo Jeongeup Nongak, I could feel not only grief of Saewol disaster but also hope. The tearsouldn’t describe in one emotion. It was like an immediate and inevitable reaction. Also, I felt similar emotion in Goseong Ogwangdae. But there is also coexistence and equality that are the basic point of the performance and Korean culture. Performers combined the modern aspect and natural Korean culture. It is not weird but natural. This was the ideal point of the performance. Combination of modern and natural Korea is detailed goal of modern Korea society. But it is having an absurd dream.

During the video project, I went to traditional wedding ceremony and researched about bowing. They were about folklore and first I think it is really difficult. I couldn’t define and say folklore in confidence. But later when I was eating dinner I saw my spoon. Then I realized that this is the folklore. There is no spoon that is same with Korean spoon. I think that the unequaled thing that represents my identity is the folklore. Even a small product, our tradition and marvelous wisdom are in it. When I watched traditional wedding of Korea, I can confirm details that have meanings. For example, gourd dipper represents a well-matched couple and the concord of husband and wife. The chestnut symbolizes the ancestors and the jujube symbolizes fecundity.  Our duty is that reinvent the tradition and the meanings. Folklore is old and non-fashion, but it tie in and cannot be detached with modern. Modern makes folklore real “folklore”. That is to say, because modern exists, past also exists. Humor and cons of life coexist with us in the name of tradition. It is not natural but inevitable. I can feel tradition in daily life and me.

Tradition is the identity of Korea. That identity is gained by experience. Experience is the key-point of our identity. It makes me sad and even joyful. I can feel and see feeling of other people. My identity is hidden in my DNA called “Korean”. Because I am Korean can feel wonder seeing traditional wedding ceremony and many other performances. It is not a just nationalism. What I seen one by one can be my identity. Some foreigner can see Korea through me. Because  which I’m doing is all tradition and learned by experience and history. I am a subject that reconciles modern world and ancient culture. I am a living witness of ancient Korea and an intermediary between tradition and modern. Ancient and modern are connect with emotion and effort that keep and love tradition. We are the keeper and lover. Especially because I am a student of Korean Studies who is responsible for the knowledge of Korea.