The Globetrotting Diaries: Trying on Hanbok in South Korea


Gyeongbokgung Palace in spring, Seoul, South Korea

Travel is the greatest passion I have in life and likely always will be. I am a true globetrotter and definitely more of a traveller than a tourist. I don’t collect keychains or postcards when I travel; I collect moments and memories. 

In May 2018, I was sent to South Korea on a FAM trip geared specifically towards “active seniors” and this initially caused some concern as I was only 34 years old at the time. I was worried that the trip would be full of educational lectures, designated meal and shopping times, and have experiences that only a senior may enjoy or appreciate. I quickly learned as the trip unfolded that I had worried in vain—this trip was going to be awesome. 

Looking good in hanbok. (Credit: Steve Perkins)

One of the most memorable travel experiences I have had to date was when our trip took us to Gangwon (a mountainous, forested province in northeast South Korea) and I had the unique experience of trying on hanbok. Hanbok is a traditional Korean dress for semi-formal or formal attire for traditional occasions such as festivals, celebrations, and ceremonies. It is characterized by vibrant colors and simple lines without pockets. I tend to be a bit shy—especially when meeting new people for the first time—and when I saw this experience on our itinerary (for the first full day of the FAM), I got nervous again, but for no reason! 

When our FAM group got to try on different hanbok, it was such a fun experience with lots of laughs and suggestions from others as to what colours really brought out our best features. We all modelled them in the beautiful manicured gardens of the cultural center, took a load of pictures, and became quick friends over the experience.