Clothes Make the Man (and Woman!) in Kdramas

Source: http://koreafilm.ro/blog/2011/02/dragobete-cu-f4-2/

Clothes may seem like mere accessories to the romantic triangles and tensions in a Kdrama, but often they are characters in and of themselves.  Some Kdramas use clothing to enhance the presentation of the characters and the story.

Some Kdramas, like Fashion King, are about the fashion industry, so it would make sense for clothes take center stage. For example, would you watch Fashion King if there was no fashion? However, other Kdramas use clothing to support the characters and enhance the story.

Boys Over Flowers

This Kdrama tells the story of four snotty, arrogant rich kids, the spunky working class girl who dares enter their world, and the romances that ensue.  However, how do we know that F4, portrayed by Kim Hyun Joong, Lee Min Ho, Kim Beom, and Kim Joon, are rich? The Kdrama spares no expense in showing the viewer how they flaunt their wealth by riding around in expensive cars, living in luxurious mansions and taking fantastic vacations to exotic locations. If somehow you missed all of that, they often tell other characters (and each other!) that they are well-off.

However, their wealth is also shown through the clothes that they wear.  These guys dress well. They go to school in well-tailored suits (who wears a suit to school?!).  The opening scenes show each of them dressing in outfits that include luxurious fabrics, fur, canes and designer shoes (@8:40).

The high-end clothing choices are intentional.  The Korean Times reports that Bean Pole supplied clothing for the series.

Source: http://boys-before-flowers.blogspot.com/2009/02/flower-boys-hype-preppy-look.html

These clothes are central to the characters:  “The male leads of the soap opera also set the trend to a haircut dubbed ‘lover boy.” Men are opting for a boyish image with their bangs let down long compared to the rest of their hair. ”  These clothes help viewers understand that these guys start out very privileged, but then change over the course of the Kdrama. This is the case throughout the Kdrama. Whether they are at a high society function, or just chillaxing around the mansion, they are always impeccably dressed!

Prosecutor Princess

Source: http://tin180.com/media/van-hoa/20100725/phu-kien-giup-ban-them-nu-tinh.html

The central character of this Kdrama, Ma Hye Ri (Kim So Yeon), is a woman who lives for fashion.  She ditches her first day of work to attend a couture shoe fashion show.

Source: http://www.polyvore.com/wholesale_kim_so_yeon_prosecutor/thing?id=48730164

Source: http://opionator.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/prosecutor-princess-or-geomsa-peurinseseu-episodes-1-to-4/

Source: http://www.polyvore.com/prosecutor_princess_ma_hye_ri/thing?id=40866583

Hye Ri routinely shows up for work in clothing and accessories that her co-workers think are not appropriate for the office:  short skirts, four-inch heels, ostentatious jewelry.  These are not just ordinary clothes; these are couture outfits.  The fact that she shops couture contributes to her characterization as superficial and oblivious to others.  As the Kdrama develops, Hye Ri becomes more grounded, and her clothing becomes less ostentatious.  Her clothes are clearly tied to how the viewer is supposed to see her.

In Prosecutor Princess, fashion is not confined to just the ladies. The male lead in the Kdrama, Seo In Woo (Park Shi Hoo), is supposed to be debonair, mysterious and able to grapple with the female lead. In order to catch her attention, he needs to dress in an equally fantastic fashion, which he does with well-tailored outfits, complicated prints and color combinations.

Source: http://www.lautanindonesia.com/forum/index.php?topic=61138.220

Just as with Hye Ri, the clothes underscore In Woo’s character development. While the expensive clothes paint her as narcissistic, his clothes demonstrate how far he has come in the opposite direction. He begins his life poor and with tragedy. By the time he encounters Hye Ri, you can see that the clothes he wears  show how far he has come economically as a high-powered attorney capable of catching Hye Ri’s attention.

So, the next time you watch a Kdrama, pay attention to what they are wearing!

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