Korea’s mainstay costume at Miss Universe is quite obvious – the hanbok. The simplicity of hanbok is best described as mainly a blouse or skirt called with chima which is a wrap-around skirt. The costume dates back in the ancient times and it is an enduring symbol of Korea’s affinity with the rest of North Asia. At Miss Universe, Korea boasts four Best in National Costume Awards and it is a little surprise that all of these winning costumes are all hanboks. The simplicity of the costume made it an ideal blank canvas for artists allowing them to use whatever designs they can think of to decorate the large skirt. In 2001 for example, Sarang Kim’s hanbok was hand painted by a famous Korean artist and it features a wonderful rendition of pink floral pastels.

1974 1977



Korea’s winning national costumes are all handboks



But Korea strays away from the usual hanbok from time to time. In 2011, Korea ditched the hanbok by using a traditional drummer costume for Sora Jung. In 2008, under the tutelage of Ines Ligron, Sun Lee’s costume was inspired by the highly successful samurai costume of Kurara Chibana in 2007. There are so many costumes other than the hanbok that Korea can draw inspiration from. In the age of varying tastes, Korea should explore its options. If Korea is to win again the hearts of the judges, it must create something new yet still relevant to the Korean culture.


Even the recent national costumes of Korea are mainly handboks



Yumi Kim used this multi layered hanbok complete with a traditional gown at Miss Universe 2013