New Jersey borough to recognize ‘Korean Hanbok Day’ amid China dispute


April 5 (UPI) — A dispute between China and South Korea over the origins of traditional Korean attire has reached a borough in New Jersey, where the mayor of Tenafly has reportedly agreed to declare “Hanbok Day.”

Tenafly, an area of the Garden State with a significant Korean American population, has agreed to designate Oct. 21 as an annual “Korean Hanbok Day,” after petitions from local group Asian American Youth Council, South Korean newspapers Segye Ilbo and Seoul Economic Daily reported Monday.


Tenafly Mayor Mark Zinna will be holding a ceremony on Tuesday, the report said.

The decision from the New Jersey borough comes after a series of incidents involving Chinese celebrities. Chinese actor recently posted a photo to social media platform Weibo on the set of Chinese television drama Royal Feast, wearing clothing that closely resembled the Korean hanbok. Chinese state media and the Korean government have also disagreed over the origin of kimchi, a fermented cabbage dish consumed in both Koreas.

In China, the Communist Youth League proposed a Chinese National Costume Day as an unofficial day to wear traditional clothing, according to Shanghai-based Radii. Chinese traditional attire has various forms, including the tightly fitting “qipao” that came into fashion during the Republican era, or the early 20th century.

Many young Chinese favor the “hanfu,” however. The flowing robes of the hanfu is worn differently than hanbok, but Chinese social media influencers have preferred to wear a type of hanfu that looks similar to the Korean hanbok. Some Chinese netizens have claimed the costume is Chinese, igniting controversy in Korea.

The popularization of hanfu in China has led to other developments. Radii reported in March a local lawmaker, Cheng Xinxiang, has proposed a National Hanfu Day.

The Asian American Youth Council said their goal is to petition other U.S. cities to enact the informal Hanbok Day to emphasize hanbok is a traditional Korean costume, and not China’s.

The Asian American Youth Council began as the Korean American Youth Council, and was founded by high school student Brian Jon. According to the group’s website, Jon created the organization in response to a racist incident in Bergen County.