Foreign Student in Korea Faces Extreme Backlash for Wearing Traditional Hanbok

An international student residing in South Korea just drew flak after posting a picture of herself wearing a traditional Korean dress.

Maria, 20, studies the Korean language in Seoul. In her post, she included a caption referencing SHINee’s Taemin, who wore a similar hanbok in KBS’ variety show “Hello Baby”.

Apparently, not everyone was pleased to see Maria donning the dress. According to Koreaboo, some angered netizens accused her of cultural (mis)appropriation. One reportedly called her a “White Devil.”

Maria addressed the allegations shortly:

“I wanna start by saying that I am very aware of cultural appropriation and the effects it can have on people.”

“I currently live in Seoul and I’m attending a Korean language program at a university here. Every semester we have a day set aside for a culture class. This semester we went to Unhyeongung and learned how to put on a Hanbok, what each piece of the hanbok is called, the traditional way to serve tea, and then did a paper craft. This was all directed by the [Korean] ladies who worked at the palace.”

The language student added that she’s actually of mixed race. Her mother is Filipina-Mexican, so she’s not entirely white. She finished her post:

“This kind of thing might not be a big deal to some, but it is to me. If you have a problem with what someone is doing then talk to them nicely about it and let them know how you feel. If they won’t listen, then move on because it’s not your job to change them and it’s not worth your precious time and energy. Don’t attack them without knowing anything or their situation.”

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