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Renting A Hanbok In Seoul For The First Time

SOUTH KOREA

Heather Markel, Best Selling Author, TEDx Speaker, Traveler, Full Time Travel and Business Coach

One of the things I’ve been so excited to do in Seoul is rent a Hanbok! For three weeks, I’ve been watching everyone else walk around in these beautiful and fun dresses, and have been chomping at the bit to do it myself. The thing is, I’m on my own, so getting good photos feels like a challenge. So, I research all the ways I can get a photographer. This seems like one of those experiences I will regret not doing, if I don’t try it out!

While you can rent a Hanbok for around $10, adding on the photographer is an additional expense, of course. After researching a bit, I find a company called Trazy. I started out thinking this was a crazy name and not legit, but they proved to be reliable. My experience had it’s challenges though! So, here are a few things I learned about renting a Hanbok for the first time.

Some Basics

There are different types of Hanbok. Trazy separates them into “modern” and “premium”. Premium ones are a bit nicer in terms of fabrics and designs.

There are a lot of colors. It’s essentially up to you on how you want to mix and match your top and your bottom. I highly recommend, before you rent one, that you visit a few Hanbok shops, and watch everyone else wearing them to get an idea of what you like, and dislike. For example, do you prefer a bright top, or a white one? Do you like floraly patterns, or more bold fabric? You don’t get a lot of time to choose, so knowing what you want in advance is a big help.

Durres port

Finding your Hanbok rental shop, if you book online, is complicated. Or, at least, I found it really hard. I left lots of extra time to get where I was going, knowing how hard it is to use the various map apps in Soutk Korea. Trazy had sent me some very explicit directions by email, so I assumed it would be easy to locate. Instead, I ended up walking in circles, after exiting the subway, and so frustrated I almost cried. Worse yet, I started sweating, and practically lost my shit on the street because I was going to be late, and the directions specifically say not to be late.

I finally gave up and got a taxi. When I showed the driver the address, he said the place was just across the street. I insisted that he take me anyway because I was mentally done. I’m glad I made that decision. The driver had to go out of the way to get back onto the street we needed, and once he did, it was, indeed, right across the street. But, that street was very long and twisty, and I would never have figured out which side street was the right one from there. Phew!

Because I was late, and the photographer is for a specific amount of time that can’t be extended, everyone was rushed. I was overwhelmed by all the color choices, and finally decided on a combination I end up loving. Next, I got my hair done! I learned from my Hanbok experience in Busan that single women have their hair down, so that’s the style I chose. They do a lovely job, complete with hair decorations, and I’m so happy. I even got a matching purse. They lead me outside, and connected me with my photographer and we’re off to Gyeongbokgung Palace! I loved how I could just waltz in like I own it, as the entry fee is included with the Hanbok rental, and one of the guards bowed to me as if I’m important royalty!

First Photos

The photographer speaks a little English. She’s very nice, but, I think she’s a less-experienced photographer. She has me do the same formal poses in every spot, and, as I would later find out, didn’t check her lighting well. (As a photographer myself, I’m extra sensitive to these things if I’m paying someone else!) I try to have fun and be myself in my own poses for some of the photos, and I’m still glad I did it, but it wasn’t what I expected. The two photos above are taken by her. I had to wait several weeks to receive all the images, and then choose 3 for her to edit. All-in-all, I’m glad I did it, and twice as glad I took my phone as well to grab some variations of photographs.

After our session ended, I had a little time to explore on my own, and take my own photos. Perhaps the photographer helped me choose some good locations. I have lots of fun snapping photos around the palace, and also the street! The juxtaposition of the modern-day 7-eleven with the Hanbok is one of my favorites!

In some ways, I would have liked more time in the Hanbok. There’s such a wonderful make-believe experience of feeling like a princess and walking through the palace.

First-Timer Tips

Here are a few tips on renting a Hanbok in Seoul, based on my experience:

  1. If you’re booking in advance, figure out where the shop is located, well in advance, so you aren’t late for your appointment.
  2. Do your own makeup ahead of time as it’s usually not included.
  3. Choose a Hanbok that doesn’t go past your heels. They’re hard to walk in, and you don’t want to trip!
  4. Bring your phone in your Hanbok purse, and a foldable tripod. You get a locker for your clothing, but after your photo shoot, if you want to take your own photos, it’s a waste of time to have to return to your locker to get your phone!
  5. Have fun and smile!

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