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Korean Wedding (Part 2)

Dec 05, 12 Korean Wedding (Part 2)

In my last post I discussed the different ways in which Koreans get married: in this and my next post I plan to explain the way the modern traditional weddings are performed compared to the old way.

Even though the ceremony has undergone a lot of drastic changes, some things remain the same. The wedding, in Korean, is called the daerye, or ‘great ritual’. This ritual has been modernized and severely shortened and changed from the original version.

Joe and Dahye’s wedding was the first modern traditional Korean wedding I had the opportunity to attend. I asked around to my Korean friends and many of them have not been to a traditional wedding either; that shows how out of favor the traditional wedding has become.

For starters, at a traditional Korean wedding the bride and groom do not wear a tuxedo and a white dress. They both wear Korean hanboks. A hanbok is the traditional ceremonial clothes here in Korea. It is used similar to the way we use a suit in modern times. Many Koreans do not wear or even own hanboks now; they just wear a regular suit to special occasions. The wedding hanboks that are worn today, are from what I was told, the same style that a king and queen would have worn.

Honestly, I thought Joe was looking really cool in his traditional Korean wedding garb. He also was a wearing a (fake) golden crown. After seeing Joe’s hanbok, regardless of where I happen to get married, I want to wear a hanbok as badass looking as Joe’s hanbok was. I thought it looked really sharp, his overcoat (called a turumagi) was black with gold embroidery, and it had four golden dragons on it. When was the last time you were at a wedding and the groom was wearing dragons as part of his wedding suit?

It was my first time meeting his wife, Dahye, and it has been our only chance of meeting. Every other time we attempted to meet something would come up and we always missed each other. However, even though, it was our first time meeting, it was rather great to finally have met her.

She looked stunning in her hanbok, it was a beautifully crafter. Her hanbok also had dragons on it, but they were smaller and more colorful. Her hanbok was light blue with a red under skirt, and golden designs.

The breakdown of a woman’s hanbok for special occasions is as follows: a top coat with dragons on it is called a wonsam, and the longer the wonsam was and more decorative it was meant the woman was from a higher place in society. Wonsam could also be differentiated by how detailed the embroidery was, or the number of accessories on it called noriage and they are tied on the jacket. The bride also wears a short jacket with long sleeves (chogori) with two long ribbons which are tied to form the otkorum. A chima is a full-length, high-waisted wrap-around skirt is also worn. The knot on top is called the maedup. Her shoes are boat shaped and made out of silk. On top of all of this, Dahye also wore a headpiece that was wrapped into her hair that was very heavy.

In the old days, the groom would travel to the house of his bride, and he would stay for three days before taking his new bride to his families’ home. During the three days, they would perform many small ceremonies and rituals with a lot of symbolic gestures and bowing many times, after which the bride and groom would officially be married. During this time the bride and groom were expected to control their emotions and remain somber. This really threw me at the wedding, since I didn’t know that, and I wondered why they were so serious, but after the ceremony there was a lot of smiling and laughing.

The Good: having the opportunity to attend my friend’s traditional Korean wedding.

Image Credit: John Van Uytven

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