Saturday, April 23, 2022

From South Korea to Japan. . . . . . . . .


Are you watching the stunning, atmospheric TV series Pachinko?
Have you read the book?

When I discovered Min Jin Lee's book a couple of years back, I
realized there was a Korean-Japanese history I had yet to learn about.
Her well-researched story is beautiful in a somewhat sad and
desolate way, and it is not an easy read. It follows a Korean
 family who escape death from starvation when Japan occupies
 Korea in 1910. They then migrate to make a life in Japan where they
 face prejudice and persecution, and the story of the family continues
through the early '90's.

The TV series is awesome but probably easier for those who first
read the book, as I did. Bob is enjoying it very much but finds it
somewhat difficult to follow the back and forth between the years the
 story covers with the mix of subtitles and dubbing.
Visually it is wonderful, some scenes breathtaking, and all the actors
 are beyond excellent.

Here is the official trailer - it is worth watching.

Watching Pachinko I fell in love with the traditional Korean women's clothes
 named hanbok. 
All those years of dressmaking and sifting through bolts of cloth, first as a
 child with my seamstress mother, later on my own, I noted the 
fabrics - which appeared to be soft almost gauze weight cotton - of the
 short jeogori jackets with fabric ties, chima wrap skirts, and the padded
 Po coats worn by the main character, Sunja. Being a commoner she wore
 mostly white and pale shades of pink, green and gray.

"Hanbok was worn daily up until just 100 years ago, it was originally designed to facilitate ease of movement. But now, it is only worn on festive occasions or special anniversaries. 

Women's traditional hanbok consist of jeogori, which is a type of jacket, and chima, which is a wrap around skirt that is usually worn with a petticoat underneath. There are also additional outer layers, such as the Po which is an outer coat, or robe, jokki which is a type of vest and magoja which is an outer jacket worn over jeogori for warmth and style.

The color of hanbok symbolized social position and marital status. Bright colors, for example, were generally worn by children and girls, and muted hues by middle aged men and women. Unmarried women often wore yellow jeogori and red chima while matrons wore green and red, and women with sons donned navy. The upper classes wore a variety of colors. Contrastingly, commoners were required to wear white, but dressed in shades of pale pink, light green, gray and charcoal on special occasions.

Also, the status and position can be identified by the material of the hanbok. The upper classes dressed in hanbok of closely woven ramie cloth or other high grade lightweight materials in warmer months and of plain and patterned silks throughout the remainder of the year. Commoners, in contrast, were restricted to cotton. Patterns were embroidered on hanbok to represent the wishes of the wearer. Peonies on a wedding dress, represented a wish for honor and wealth. Lotus flowers symbolized a hope for nobility, and bats and pomegranates showed the desire for children. Dragons, phoenixes, cranes and tigers were only for royalty and high-ranking officials."

My 'gauze' garments are mostly linen/cotton blend scarves and the
 linen kimono style jacket on the right.  
They somewhat nudged me into writing this post.
 I've been taking summer clothes out of storage ready for the hot days
ahead here in humid North Carolina. . . . . . . . and, hopefully, for my
 June trip home to England when lightweight scarves will help dress up
the limited wardrobe stuffed into that one suitcase!!!

Lovely Asian fabrics bring back my memories of traveling to that very
 interesting part of the world.  I've spent time in Japan, but sadly I've
 only been to South Korea briefly (a stopover from San Francisco) at
 Incheon International Airport in Seoul  - definitely one of the finest airports
 in the world, and on the best airline I've ever flown, South Korea's Asiana
There I boarded Thai Airways and flew on to Bangkok, Thailand, followed
later by a marvelous visit to Vietnam. . . . . a really amazing trip.

If you've spent time in South Korea I'd love to hear about it.


  1. Dearest Mary,
    No, never spent time in South Korea.
    Had a very interesting conversation with a college professor from South Korea, on the bus in Tokyo.
    Also in Indonesia we worked for three years with the cannery manager, Pak (Mr.) Yun who was from Seoul. We went to Korean restaurants but that is IT.
    Yes, the garments and fabrics in those countries are so symbolic and beautiful.
    Japan produced e.g. the best silk fabrics, we learned that in fashion school.
    WISH I could find more time for reading but it is so hard to get it ALL done.
    Happy you will travel in June to England!

  2. Such an interesting post, Mary. I have not heard of Pachinko, neither the novel nor the tv program. I think Asian clothing looks so comfortable to wear, and the prints are organic and elegant. I've never been to the Far East; perhaps some day. Yes, it's time to pull out summer clothes - or so I keep hoping. We had a touch of frost on the roofs last night and I'm wearing a cozy hoodie over my t-shirt this morning. Have a great weekend.

  3. A beautiful,beautiful post! Photos,words...that indigo blue ...
    I loved that book so much - perhaps time for a re-read! How I wish I had Apple TV. The trailer was lovely. Thank you so very much.


  4. I have not heard of Pachinko, but I will look for it now. It certainly sounds very interesting. Your gauze scarves and jacket are beautiful, and perfect for travelling, and the photos of Asian textiles just beautiful. My only visits to Korea were the same as yours, the airport at Seoul while in transit to and from Japan in 2001. I bought amethyst earrings and a pendant. Have a great week. xxx

  5. Dear Mary, thank you for the tip about "Pachinko"!

    The garments (kimono) and shawls you show are so beautiful!
    And will feel good to the skin, which is so important (buying a new garment I close my eyes and "feel" - thus some things go back to the rack, though they look excitingly.)

    I own two old Japanese silk kimonos and a long silk shawl from Japan (which is one of the journeys I am utterly determined to make - I want to see the gardens of Kyoto, and my father told us a lot about his time in Japan).
    Till now I have only been around in Europe and a bit in America - so: still great plans.

    I think it is a great idea of you to use scarfs to give a travel wardrobe often a new look - and they are light in the suitcase and a beautiful eye-catcher.

  6. Now I want to watch this show. I love Asian art and fabrics, so beautiful. Thanks for the lovely post.

    1. I guess I don't have access to the show, but have bookmarked the book to order. Thanks!

  7. I've heard a lot of good things about this book but I haven't read it yet. I love gauzy materials. They're ideal for our hot summers.

  8. I read the book Pachinko, very sad but also utterly fascinating!

    I think Hanbok are gorgeous!

  9. Never heard about it! It certainly sounds interesting...
    Love from Titti

  10. What a coincidence! I read a newspaper this morning and found the name of this book. It has been ranked in five bestsellers in Korea.


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