Kyunghee Pyun Describes How Korean Fashion Went Global at GWU Colloquium

A woman squats, modeling traditional Korean clothing in a red and white color scheme
A model wears traditional Korean garb by designer Kim Yeong-mi in this photograph by Michael Hurt for the Hahn Moo-Sook Colloquium in the Korean Humanities.

History of Art Associate Professor Kyunghee Pyun delivered a talk about modern Korean fashion as part of a daylong symposium at George Washington University. The November 5 gathering, the university’s 30th annual Hahn Moo-Sook Colloquium in the Korean Humanities, this year was held in conjunction with a special exhibition of Korean fashion at the university’s textile museum.

Pyun opened her presentation with a famous 2005 photograph of 20 heads of state wearing a traditional Korean overcoat, the durumagi, for that year’s Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation summit. Tracing how Korean fashion reached this level of global reach, Pyun spoke about the influence of U.S. products, the development of synthetic textiles and the country’s economic growth in the 1960s and ’70s, when it became a textile export hub for the world.

Along with scholars from GWU and the Korea National University of Arts, the colloquium analyzed Korean fashion as an evolving expression of national identity, socio-economic transformation and aesthetic sensibilities of the country and its people.

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