Sangbok is called the ordinary business wear of kings and court officials which composes of a headdress, overcoats, belts, boots and special embroidered symbols. The headpieces and emblems differed according to the wearer’s rank – a king together with the crown prince and his son wore ikseongwan and gonryongpo also known as yongpo or mangpo with dragon symbols whereas the governmental officials opted for a samo (black silk crown) and a robe known as a dalryeongpo.
The gonryongpo is widely known as an everyday attire for the king, crown prince and his first son (the future crown prince), however, the identity of the wearer is crucial and makes for various distinctions. It was introduced from the Ming Dynasty in 1444, the 26th years of King Sejong for the first time and eventually adjusted to Korean customs.
One of them is the colour – The gonryongpo comes in various colours, however, red or scarlet is for the king’s use only but it doesn’t mean that other colours were excluded from the king’s yongpo wardrobe.
Another difference is the round dragon emblem (bo) sewn on the arms, the chest and the back – The monarch’s dragon is 5-toed (ohjoeryongbo), the crown prince’s 4-toed (sajoeryongbo) and his son’s 3-toed (samjoeryongbo). The gonryongpo has a round collar called dannyeong
Under the his gonryongpo LS wears a durumagi (an overcoat) over a set of simple jeogori and baji. The jaded waistband around LS’s midsection is called gakdae.
 The robe is comlemented either by heukhwa (specifically worn by the king) or mokhwa (boots typical for officials). 
His hair is adjusted into a sangtu (a topknot) on the top of his head that is covered by a sangtugwan ( a small crown that helps to maintain the topknot) with a pin called a donggot. There is also a manggeon (a headband) with two gwanjas (little ornaments).
For official meetings and purposes LS uses  a black ikseongwan (crown worn by kings and crown princes) to cover the whole hairstyle. When the king wears the black crown with yongpo his attire is then also known as ikseongwanpo.
For his incognito trips outside the palace walls LS choses a less formal attire typical for young Joseon aristocrats. The part we can’t really see is a jeogori (a jacket) with two fronts that are bound together with a strap but unlike the ones worn by women, men’s jeogori is longer reaching the waist. The legs are coverd by turquoise trousers called baji which are tied with a daenim (another strap) on top of the boseon (white socks).
The piece of clothing with the wide sleeves is a light blue dopo (an overcoat) which can be worn by itself, however, LS put a blueberry sleeveless vest, with intricate embroidery of silver patterns and red stripes around his neckline, called dapho that is again bound together with an otgoreum. The dopo and the dapho are fixed with a wide waistband and a lilac jaejodae(a cord tied around the waist).
His shoes are difficult to identify ’cause I can’t any good shot of them, however, they’re either taesahye (low shoes used by noblemen since they were so expensive)made of animal skin, lined with skin and fur inside or heukhye (worn by scholars and high class men as their daily footwear) made from leather and fleece and probably all black .
The coiffure is  complemented by a gat (a hat) adorned with an ivory ornament in the middlethis time, however, without a gatkeun (string of gemstones added by members of nobility to show their station) to better maintain his undercover identity.



  1. I stumbled across this blog from the talking cupboard and I must say I absolutely love it! A great complement with TTC. 😀 One question though: is there any significant reasons for kings to wear a different colour gonryongpo over time? Or is it up to the wearer? I noticed in kdramas the kings tend to start off with blue robes, then after some time they switch to red, then deep red etc. This has been bugging me as I have noticed this ‘tend’for a while now.

    1. Hi, labworks, and thank you for your comment! This is really interesting question I’ve never thought about. As you may have noticed the costume designers and wardrobe supervisors take a lot of liberties with the exact historical or symbolic accuracy of the costumes in historical dramas (expl. the crown prince wears a dragon insignia with five claws rather than the fixed five and so on).

      As for the gonryongpo, the general consensus is that the gold/yellow is for an emperor, the red always for a king and black is often worn by the crown prince and his son, however, however, only the first two rules are stipulated and the Joseon kings were often depicted wearing gonryongpo in various shades of blue beside the beside hongryongpo. According to my knowledge, the choice of the colour was left either to the king’s preference but as the ruler often didn’t take too much interest in fashion, it was left to the court ladies of the King’s Quarters department.

      I hope I helped you at least a little. I have obtained an amazing book called King’s Costume written by a Korean prof. teaching at Harvard University. It’s a very insightful publication, unfortunately, it doesn’t answer most of the questions I have, too.

      Thank you for your insights, labworks, and write again I’m looking foward to it 🙂 .

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: