Smart Apron with Long History

An apron is one of the things that show well a good living habit of Korean women, who have always loved smartness.

An apron is a piece of clothing that women wear over the front of the body and tie around the waist when cooking.

The custom of wearing an apron in our country has a very long history. Maids wearing semi-oval aprons are painted on the mural paintings in Kamsin Tomb and Anak Tomb No. 2 of Koguryo, which tells us that aprons started to be used already in our country before the period of the Three Kingdoms. As shown in the murals, aprons of that time were similar in shape to present-day aprons. They were made in different colours including white and light pink, and red or pink strips of cloth were sewn around them. The custom was inherited down to the feudal Joson dynasty, when aprons made of four pieces of cotton cloth in pleats were almost similar to skirts in length, and they were worn over skirts to cover the front as well as the sides of the body. Among the aprons that had been passed down from olden times was “Haengju Apron” named after the patriotic deeds of the women in the fortress on Mt. Haengju, who carried stones in their aprons to assist the warriors in the battle against Japanese invaders during the Japanese invasion of Korea in 1592.

Aprons were made of thin white cotton cloth such as cotton or calico and they were always washed, starched and ironed before use.

It is a fine custom of our women to wear smart aprons whenever working ― cooking in particular. It was a normal practice for our women to wear aprons when serving food to guests as well as preparing meals for the family in the mornings and evenings, and it was regarded as common courtesy to take them off when they need to enter rooms or answer the door in the middle of cooking. In a word, aprons served as an important symbol of the aesthetic feelings of our women, who have loved neatness and cleanliness from early days.

Today our women enjoy wearing aprons when they do the housework. Present-day aprons that are made of white cloth in semi-oval or rectangular shape to cover front parts only are decorated with simple flower embroidery, applique, lace or small pockets.

Pak Sin Jong, researcher at the Academy of Social Sciences