In 2019, I visited Korea with a few of my friends. We tried to rent Hanbok in Seoul but could not find a shop that carried my size. Needless to say, this was a disheartening and embarrassing experience for me. In the end, we walked around Bukchon Hanok Village in our normal clothes and gave up on our goal of wearing hanbok.
During my recent trip to Seoul with a TEAN excursion, however, I was introduced to a size-inclusive hanbok rental studio called “Yes Hanbok”. Going into this excursion, I was filled with anxiety wondering if I was going to be able to fit the hanbok. In fact, if it wasn’t for the support and encouragement of the other girls in my group, I probably wouldn’t have pushed through my anxiety to attend this event. I am thankful that this study abroad experience connected me with amazing, caring friends. Without them, I would have let me fear of embarrassment keep me from experiencing one of the most memorable days of my trip to Korea.
Upon entering the studio, the workers were incredibly kind and helpful. They showed me the plus size section and I was able to choose from a variety of colors. After that, they helped me get dressed. This part of the excursion was a bit hectic as we ran around picking out accessories, putting our clothes into lockers, and then getting our hair done. For me, this hectic moment was also a moment of relief. Instead of focusing on my worries, I was able to focus on getting dolled up for our exploration of Gyeongbokgung Palace. Ultimately, this ended up being one of my favorite days in Korea.
For other plus size women visiting Korea, I highly recommend visiting “Yes Hanbok” if you are interested in having a positive, seamless experience. I know how it feels to go into a store and leave without seeing my size: it is devastating. Sadly, this is a common occurrence for many women in Korea. However, the staff at “Yes Hanbok” helped ease my worries and helped me find the perfect hanbok for my experience. I am a size 20 US and felt like it was loose so I would recommend this location for women up to 22 US. For anyone nervous about renting hanbok in Korea for the same reasons as me, I cannot encourage you enough: go for it!
Kaylee Raines, Wright State University, is studying abroad in South Korea with TEAN.