From slave to giseng to a member of the palace, Jang Nok-su’s dramatic life story can also be seen in the way her costume changed throughout the play.
Nok-su as a Slave..
In the beginning of the show, Jang Nok-su’s first appearance has her in plain clothes, which signifies her status as a slave. Slaves in Joseon dynasty wore very plain monotonous hanboks, only their ribbons had different colors.
Nok-su as a Giseng Performer…
Only silk is fitting to show Nok-su’s beauty and skill in this scene. In her first scene, she is still a giseng in training so their clothes are made to accompany the Janggu, which is drapped across their body. The silk enhances the fluid movements in the fast-paced Janggu dance
Jang Nok-su is shown to be an excellent artist with tremendous artistic skill. In the scene after her intense training, she dances gracefully in a beautiful red hanbok, which captivates the hearts of the guests. The hanbok and even the fan makes her dance more intense and attractive.
Nok-su in the palace!
The hanbok worn during the stage of her life emphasizes her self-confidence. Upon entry to the palace, the hanbok she wore is called, Wonsam. The wonsam is a female ceremonial topcoat in hanbok, Korean traditional clothing. It was worn by queens, high-ranking court ladies, and royalty during the Joseon dynasty of Korea. The sides are open and long enough to hide the hands.
But here’s a surprise for the audience! In the performance, there is a scene where masked servants dance around Jang Noksu and have a face-off with each other. Based on their costumes, these dancers were supposedly male actors. However, some of the actresses also appear in male costumes !!!!! Do you think you would be able to spot them in this intense scene?
Finally the last costume! At this point, Nok-su feels that the end is near and performs her last dance in front of Prince Yeonsan. In her bittersweet performance, the dramatic life of Nok-su, which seemed like a midsummer night dream, is also reiterated making the dance more emotional.
Did you enjoy learning about Nok-su’s costumes in <The Palace: Jang Nok-Su>? If you want to see the hanbok in more detail, come on down to Jeongdong Theater to see the captivating <The Palace: Jang Nok-Su>