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More Than Meets The Eyes

 

An Exploration of Korean Identity Through Clothing Design and Hangul

My project aims to address Korean-American identity by designing "hyoongbae", a traditional belt-like garment piece which was worn by the elite men of Korea to signify status and rank in society. My hope is to challenge this idea of exclusivity and the term 'melting pot' which suggests the erasure and homogenization of race, culture, and nationality. The United States should rather be seen as a 'quilt of diversity' where immigrants actively contribute to the fabric of society rather than merely blend in. My project is a display of photographs that proudly showcase my different hyoongbae designs. These symbolize the identities of Korean-Americans like myself who struggle to find representation and acceptance in society for either being 'not Korean enough' or 'not American enough'. In my research, I found that stereotypes play a huge role in creating the social identities of Asian-Americans, which consequently affect personal identities as well, by labeling non-conforming individuals as outsiders. My hope is to represent the pride in being Korean-American and start a wider discussion about the terminology we use to describe our nation's population through these hyoongbae designs.