The Powerful Allure of Ancient Tradition
Tradition as a Trend, Hip Tradition

In the eyes of today’s generation, who sell out Goryeo celadon goods and roam traditional markets to post on social media, traditional elements are perceived as a distinct charm. It’s considered ‘Hip’ to blend tradition with modern culture, creating new trends rather than just bringing tradition as it is.

People looking at museum goods, ‘Muds’, Source: National Museum Foundation

The Emergence of Hip Tradition

Over the past few years, the reinterpretation of tradition, called ‘Hip Tradition’, has gained popularity. Hip Tradition, a combination of ‘hip’ (meaning one’s uniqueness) and ‘traditional’, signifies a trend of consuming traditional culture in modern ways. It’s similar to ‘Newtro’ (new nostalgia) or ‘Halmenial’ (tastes and preferences of the millennial generation similar to grandmothers). Still, Hip Tradition emphasizes interest in and consumption of more ancient elements like Hanok, Hanbok, traditional liquor, etc. In the rapidly changing trends, there’s a pursuit for values, aesthetics, and flavors that don’t change, finding novelty in old things – ‘Old but New’ is popular. It’s not just about patriotism originating from love for Korean culture and food but about finding unchanging values within them. Hip Tradition is about discovering classic and traditional elegance in things that have been with us for a long time.

Heading to Museums for Trendy Goods

Geumdong Daehyangro Miniature (left) and Bangasayusang Miniature (right) available at the National Museum Cultural Product Museum Shop, Source: National Museum of Korea website

The place to observe the Hip Tradition trend directly is the National Museum. Goods like ‘Geumdong Daehyangro Miniature’, and ‘Bangasayusang Miniature’ showcased through the museum shop by the National Museum Cultural Heritage Foundation sold out their initial stock due to their immense popularity.

The ‘Bangasayusang Miniature’ is a good version of Korea’s National Treasure No. 83, ‘Geumdong Mireuk Bosal Bangasayusang ‘, characterized by the ‘Banga’ pose of placing the right leg over the left knee and especially, with BTS leader RM purchasing a ‘Bangasayusang Miniature’, consecutive sold-outs occurred. Alongside, the ‘Geumdong Daehyangro Miniature’, renowned for its excellent craftsmanship, is a version of Korea’s National Treasure No. 287, ‘Baekje Geumdong Daehyangro’, made into goods like incense holders, tin cases, etc.

Visitors at the National Museum, Source: National Museum of Korea website

Hyundai Glovis employees’ visit to the National Museum of Korea for the Junior Insight Training Program at the end of 2023

Based on the popularity of these goods, the number of visitors to national museums across the country last year surpassed 10 million for the first time. It reached 10.47 million, surpassing 9.98 million in 2019, indicating that Hip Tradition is a significant trend in our society. National Museum goods’ Muds’ sales also increased from 8.6 billion won in 2019 to 11.7 billion in 2022 and 14.9 billion in 2023. The popularity of various ‘National Goods’ such as the ‘Geumdong Daehyangro Miniature’, ‘Bangasayusang Miniature’ at the National Museum of Korea, and the ‘Oyat Flower Oil Lamp’ cultural product of Deoksugung Palace continues.

Smartphone accessories with Goryeo Celadon’s design are available at Muds

‘Oyat Flower Oil Lamp’ (left) and Joseon Royal Lantern Making Kit (right), cultural products of Deoksugung Palace

Following Hip Tradition to Palaces and Traditional Markets

Ticketing page for night-time opening of Gyeongbokgung Palace, Source: Interpark website

The popularity of museum exhibitions and goods is just the beginning. Every autumn, the night-time openings of palaces like Gyeongbokgung, Changgyeonggung, and Deoksugung sell out instantly, giving rise to terms like ‘Ticketing Bloodbath’ and ‘Palace Ticketing’. The desire to enjoy the serene atmosphere of the palaces at night and take photos has led to the palace entrance fees. Initially, around 3,000 won, being traded for as much as 20,000 won. Nostalgia for the old is also reflected in the frequency of visits and sales at traditional markets.

People visiting the newly renovated Yesan Market, Source: The Born Korea

With the retro trend, places that offer a sense of old nostalgia and snacks catering to Halmenial tastes have become popular, making traditional markets the ‘playground for the younger generation’. The opportunity to experience local authenticity in the city aligns with the interests of the MZ generation.

According to data from BC Card’s New Finance Institute, analyzing sales from 15 major traditional markets nationwide from 2019 to 2023, sales in 2023 increased by 149% compared to April 2019. Yesan Market, renovated by Baek Jong-won’s Born Korea, saw a 934% increase in MZ generation customer visits in 2023 compared to 2019. Additionally, visits to markets like Seoul’s Sindang Market increased by 117%, Gangwon’s Gangneung Central Market by 70%, and Jeju’s Dongmun Market by 25%.

The Hippest Fashion, Hanbok

Modernized Hanbok appearing in a fashion show, Source: Danha website

Hanbok is also a leading element of the recent Hip Tradition trend. First, there’s the popularity of the modernized Hanbok, previously considered the exclusive domain of the older generation. Celebrities like BTS’s Jungkook and Lee Hyori wearing modernized Hanbok as daily wear have garnered significant public interest. Modernized Hanbok, attractive for its comfortable wear and natural colors, has evolved into everyday Hanbok, adding elegance. Everyday Hanbok brands like Leesle propose designs, updated materials, manufacturing methods, and wearing styles, making Hanbok accessible for daily wear beyond special occasions like holidays or weddings.

BLACKPINK’s How You Like That music video featuring a Jeogori and Durumagi designed by designer Kim Danha, Source: YouTube BLACKPINK Channel

K-POP’s popularity also plays a role in Hanbok’s fame. In June 2020, girl group BLACKPINK appeared in their How You Like That music video wearing a Jeogori and Durumagi from Kim Danha’s Danhajudan; it sparked a trend among international fans for Hanbok dance covers. In 2022, IVE member Jang Wonyoung appeared at Paris Fashion Week with a phoenix-patterned hairpin, showcasing Hanbok’s versatility in various styles and designs.

In these times of constantly changing trends, one wonders if Hip Tradition is gaining attention due to our attraction to tradition, which has been a part of our identity for a long time. Instead of dismissing Hip Tradition as a mere trend of the MZ generation, we should appreciate it as a representation of our unique cultural and semantic values.

At Hyundai Glovis, we have Hyundai Glovis Lifestyle 2.0 as a guide for the direction Glovis staff should take. Last year’s Las 2.0 Festival was filled with goods that could be obtained by completing various missions. How about looking forward to what kind of festival programs and goods will be available at this year’s Las 2.0?

By Editorial department