Finkel Fund Awardee Yoo Jin Choi Thinks About the Past and Future of Hanbok

Yoo Jin Choi (Art History ’25) conducted field research on Korean textiles in the local markets of Seoul.

Finkel Fund awardee Yoo Jin Choi had a special summer internship experience in Seoul, South Korea. 

Supported by the funding of the Finkel Fund through the University of Delaware Center for Material Culture Studies, Yoo Jin completed her internship at the Sookmyung Women’s University Museum. The internship comprised two distinct research projects: a collection-based study of East Asian embroidery objects and a field-based survey of Korean traditional clothing, hanbok

As one of the earliest educational institutions for women founded by the royal family of the Korean Empire, the Sookmyung Women’s University dedicates its museum to collect and exhibit historic objects related to women’s life, education, and achievement. At the museum, Yoo Jin engaged with objects from the Chung Young Yang Embroidery Museum Collection, which represents the East Asian embroidery traditions as well as the personal research and reproductions by a Korean woman and director of the collection, Dr. Chung. 

Yoo Jin examined archives on Korean textiles at Sookmyung Women’s University Museum Collection.

Yoo Jin examined and drafted object reports of recent acquisitions, ranging from an embroidered mirror of Warring States period China to a nineteenth-century Mongolian thangka. The reports included information from English resources that have not been translated and are often understudied in Korea. She also explored traditional textile markets in Seoul and analyzed the uses of hanbok in contemporary settings. 

Collecting data and samples of current and upcoming projects that use hanbok designs, she had opportunities to interact with public sectors involved in a government-led hanbok school uniform initiative and listen to consumers’ opinions on commercial collaborations among fashion brands such as hanbok pajamas by SPAO and Leesle. 

Yoo Jin, who is in her second year in the graduate program of the Art History department, notes that the curatorial and market research through the Sookmyung Women’s University Museum internship allowed her to further develop her interests in traditions and consumption of East Asian textiles.