[Hallyupedia] Gat (갓)

나확진 / 인턴 차민경 / 2021-10-31 07:16:26
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by Ra Hwak Jin / Cha Min Kyung


[ENG] Korean traditional hat worn by men during the Joseon Dynasty

▲ This photo, provided by the Cultural Heritage Administration, shows the typical 'Gat' or "Heungnip." (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

"Gat," a Korean traditional hat, consists of a cup-shaped upper part that covers the head, a brim which covers a person's face, and a strap to hold the parts into place. Originally, Gat was used as a practical garment by people to cover the sun, rain, and wind, but as materials and techniques began to develop in various ways, it became an official hat for men to wear whenever they went out in public and to distinguish one's social status.

◇ Joseon's essential item 'Gat' used for diverse statuses and occasions

According to the Encyclopedia of Korean Culture, there are two types of Gat in general. The first is called '방갓형·[bang-gat],' where the hat and brim part of the Gat is hard to distinguish, whereas the second type is called '패랭이형·[pae-raeng-i],' a Gat with distinctive characteristics.

The "bang-gat" type Gat includes 삿갓·[sat-gat], 방갓·[bang-gat], 전모·[jeon-mo], etc. On the other hand, "Paeraengi" includes 초립·[cho-rip], 흑립·[heung-nip], 전립·[jeon-nip], 주립·[ju-rip], and 백립·[baeng-nip],

In general, when referring to Gat, people commonly think of "Heungnip," which is a simple black horsehair hat usually worn for outings.

▲ This photo, provided by Sungkyunkwan University, shows 'Jurip,' a black horsehair Gat coated with red lacquer. The Jurip was worn by high-ranking military officers during the Joseon Dynasty. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

The "Jurip," a black horsehair hat coated with red lacquer, was worn by high-ranking military officers, and the "Baengnip" or "white hats," were worn by Joseon men during times of mourning the death of one's parent or the king.



▲ This photo,provided by Netflix, shows actor Ryu Seung-ryong as Lord Cho Hak-ju in "Kingdom" wearing a "Baengnip" for the king's funeral. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)


According to historical documents, there is a record in "Samguk yusa" or "Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms" that King Wonseong of Silla, wore a white-colored Gat in his dream, indicating that Gat was also used in the Three Kingdoms period. In the Goryeo Dynasty, the Gat was established as an official hat to indicate social status or a high-ranking government official.

By the end of Goryeo and early Joseon Dynasty, the Gat developed into "Heungnip." In 1895, discrimination between the high and low rank people disappeared and the Gat became common to everyone.

Since Korea's liberation from the Japanese colonial rule, the clothing culture changed to a Western style and the custom of wearing hats disappeared. In the present day, people are seen wearing Gat in exceptional cases, such as traditional rituals.

The traditional Korean headgear is completed with bamboo strips or thin horsehair like thread to make the brim and hat parts, which are later lacquered.


▲ This photo, provided by the Cultural Heritage Administration, shows a woman in the process of using black horsehair to complete a Gat. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

In 1964, the Korean government designated "Gannil" or "horsehair hat making" as National Intangible Cultural Heritage No. 4. 

◇ Gat becomes a necessary prop for historical K-dramas after receiving global recognition from Netflix's hit zombie series "Kingdom"

▲ This photo, provided by Netflix, shows the poster for "Kingdom" season two. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Gat is an essential costume item used in movies and dramas to depict the Joseon Dynasty. It is a very familiar scene for Koreans to see male actors wearing Gat in historical dramas. Of course, since it is rare to see Korean people wearing Gat in real life today, the traditional hat can seem unfamiliar to foreigners. However, as Netflix's historical zombie thriller "Kingdom" became a global hit in 2019, the Gat worn by most male characters in the drama, also drew great interest from the audience.

The new South Korean ambassador to Britain, Kim Gunn, who previously served as the Deputy Foreign Minister, attracted attention on Oct. 26 by wearing a black Gat with a blue colored "dopo," a traditional Korean gown for men, while presenting his credentials to Britain's Queen Elizabeth II.



▲ This photo, provided by the Embassy of the Republic of South Korea in London, England, shows Lee Hee Jung (L) and South Korean ambassador to Britain, Kim Gunn (R)

Photos of Ambassador Kim dressed in traditional Korean clothing from the Joseon Dynasty while meeting Queen Elizabeth II via video call, showed a clear contrast between the two traditions and cultures. British medias, including BBC and Sky News, also pointed out Kim's traditional attire in detail, saying, "Gunn Kim, who was dressed in Korean clothing including a traditional hat known as a gat."

In addition, Ambassador Kim said the British royal family and officials from the Foreign Ministry were curious about the decorative string attached on the Gat.



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