Hanbok in Ottomans lands

By Korea.net Honorary Reporters Salwa Elzeny and Esraa Elzeny
Photos = Korea.net DB
Video = KBS World YouTube channel

The famous fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, the head creative director at the fashion house Chanel, once said, “Fashion is a language that creates itself in clothes to interpret reality.”

With the development of fashion around the world and the difference of fashions year after year, traditional clothing remains one reference point for all designers. Through them, designers get inspired with new ideas. Traditional Korean Hanbok attire inspires many designers all around the world with its thin and soft lines that suit all ages. Hanbok fashion shows take palace in many countries, such as France, Egypt and Turkey. There’s great passion around the world to learn how to make Hanbok and how to introduce it into modern design trends.

Kübra Rendecioğlu is a Turkish Hanbok designer.
In 2015, a Turkish designer named Kübra Rendecioğlu won the Talk Talk Korea contest. She won first place in the Photograph category. Since then, she has become a famous figure in Turkey and Korea. She has many followers on social media, and now she’s one of the most famous Hanbok designers in Turkey. She’s trying to blend Turkish and Korean fashion traditions through Hanbok, and her dream is to be a bridge of communication between the two countries.
Here’s a video of her trip to Korea for the Talk Talk Korea contest.
The winners of the Talk Talk Korea contest in 2015 pose for a photo during their trip to Korea.
Korea.net honorary reporters were able to sit down with Rendecioğlu, even though she’s very busy. She’s really a friendly and is a modest person. Please read our interview, below.
– Please introduce yourself to our readers?
I’m a designer who aims to create a fashion bridge between two countries, blending Hanbok with traditional Turkish clothing designs. My name is Kübra Rendecioğlu. I was born in 1992. I live in Trabzon, Turkey.    
– When did you start loving Korea?
I started to love Korea thanks to the soap opera “Dae Jang Geum” (대장금) (2003) and “Princess Hours” (궁) (2006), which aired in the channel TRT in 2008. I think these are legendary TV shows.
– When did your interest in Hanbok begin?
I started to get interested in Hanbok when I saw opera “Dae Jang Geum.” When I first designed my own Hanbok, sewing it and wearing it myself, I realized I was in love with Hanbok.
The freedom of the colors and the royal Joseon image of Hanbok are why I’m interested in Hanbok. Hanbok makes a woman’s body feel special. Hanbok dresses are modest and compatible with a woman’s body, too.
– How did you learn to sew Hanbok?
My dad had a textile company. Since childhood, I grew up around fabrics and machines. However, l hated to sew clothes. Before Hanbok, l just had just sewn one skirt. I learned to sew clothes by sewing Hanbok. I learned how to sew Hanbok by searching online and looking at the Hanbok that my Korean language teacher gave me. I sewed my first Hanbok this way.
– Did you study Korean so that you could sew Hanbok?
In fact, everyone thinks so, but it’s actually a little different. For me, learning Korean came before Hanbok. I wanted to talk to people from Korea. Interestingly, I met my first Korean friend in Trabzon and we were only able to communicate through Google Translate. I also had my Korean phrase book. We communicated this way for three hours. I promised her to make contact with her in Korean when she arrives in Trabzon the next time. The King Sejong Institute in Trabzon opened in the middle of that same year. This helped me to reach my aim on time. As for Hanbok and Korea, I had to learn more Korean. 
– What attracted you to Korea and to Korean heritage, other than Hanbok?
I’ve been a fan of all things Asian ever since childhood. I like the traditional houses, martial arts, and East Asian society has impressed me a lot. I focused more on Korea when I learned that Korea was a “brother country” to Turkey. I thought that Korea was like Trabzon, the city where I live. Trabzon is the heart of the Black Sea and Korea is the heart of Northeast Asia. As you know, the heart is small but it is vital. I wished that I was in one of those traditional Hanok houses when I woke up in the morning. I dreamed that Gyeongbokgung Palace was ruled by Joseon again for a short time and that everyone wore Hanbok. It would be amazing to see those traditional foods and the guardians at the palace, just like old times. It would be a great opportunity to get to know and introduce Korea to the world, wouldn’t it? And the food! Korean food is delicious and I enjoy it a lot while eating. Also, the presentation of the meals on the table is very nice. I pay a lot of attention to food presentation. 
I’m in Istanbul now. There are many Korean restaurants here. As soon as I arrived here, I directly went to a Korean restaurant. Unfortunately, there’s no Korean restaurant in Trabzon. I hope one will open soon. In addition, one of the most important reasons for being influenced by Korea is that the Korean people respect each other a lot. I care about respectfulness. It’s a traditional habit for us, to respect each other, ever since Ottoman times.
Kübra Rendecioğlu walks in Hanbok during her trip to Korea as a prize for winning the Talk Talk Korea contest in 2015.
Kübra Rendecioğlu practices writing Korean during her trip to Korea in 2015.

– How did it feel when you won the Talk Talk Korea contest? 
The Talk Talk Korea contest was the first competition in which I ever participated. To win first place in the contest was amazing. The prize was a trip to Korea. It was an indescribable feeling. I won the competition with the most beautiful frame of my art exhibition, where I introduced Korean heritage.
It was so difficult to go to Korea on my own facilities the first time. In fact, my uncle bought my ticket. After those difficulties, I’ve met so many nice people and two Hanbok companies sponsored me. I stayed at the house of one friend, who took me to a Hanbok company in Cheonan. I met that friend on the streets of Trabzon just by chance and we chatted for only 10 minutes. She helped me a lot in Korea. When we went to the Hanbok company, I told them about myself. The CEO of Hansem Hanbok was surprised and she told me to wait. After a few minutes, she brought out 10 rolls of fabric. I was shocked. I was very touched. What a beautiful heart! And getting nothing in return! She gave the fabric to me just because I love Hanbok.
After that I went to another friend’s office. I met her on Facebook. I asked her which cultural foundation could support me and my Hanbok work. She said that it was so difficult, but that she would help. Then she gave me a chance to choose the color of the Hanbok fabric. I was shocked, again. She gave me all the Hanbok fabric that I needed, and sort of sponsored me.
When I remember these beautiful things after all those difficulties, winning the Talk Talk Korea contest and knowing that I would go to Korea was a great feeling. Finally, I was on the streets of Korea wearing Hanbok that I had designed. Of course, I had trouble speaking Korean.
There were misfortunes during both my Korea journeys. I would normally stay for one month, but this time I could only stay for six days because of some trouble. That was so bad to hear. However, I thought that Korea was saying to me, “You came to Korea twice, but we couldn’t fulfill your longing for all things Korean! So come to Korea again and don’t leave us without you.”
I was in third place in the competition this year. I think I express myself better through Korean heritage. It makes me happy.
– What are your tips for people who want to learn how to sew Hanbok?
Hanbok is amusingly simple, but there are fine details and difficulties. At the same time, Hanbok is so funny. When you wear Hanbok, you feel awesome. It’s such a great feeling when you wear your own design, too.
First of all, you should make Hanbok without compromising the original. The other matter is fabric. Fabric is so important to Hanbok. You really need quality fabric.
Another matter is color. Colors are so important to Hanbok because Hanbok is the essence of colors being in harmony with one another, in my opinion.
– You’ve worn Hanbok at Turkish weddings. How did your family and friends react?
I received a very positive reaction from my whole circle of friends, including my family, concerning the Hanbok idea. Now, I’m very keen to make Hanbok wedding dresses for other people. I think that this idea strengthens the brotherhood between Korea and Turkey.
– Can you mix Hanbok with your daily clothes?
Yes. Of course. I already prefer Hanbok as part of my day-to-day life. I wore Hanbok every day in Korea. I really admire the Lessle brand. I think it’s doing one of the best jobs in the world. 
Finally, I want to talk about one more thing. I have a Turkey-Korea “cultural harmony and social responsibility” project. Through this project, I believe that there will be a beautiful kindness formed between the brotherhood that exists between Turkey and Korea. I will help those in need. For a year and a half, I’ve been developing this project without working on anything else. I’m looking for a sponsor. I want Korea to not leave me alone on this project.
There are a lot of cultural activities in Turkey. Why not turn it into a “social responsibility” project and benefit the people who need help? We have a proverb. “Do good, throw it into the sea.”
wisdom117@korea.kr