Leather Shoes with Long History

Leather shoes called katsin in Korean were worn from long ago in our country.

Our nation did a lot of hunting, so they made shoes of animal skins from ancient times. Such shoes were called “hyoktap” in historical records.

In the period of the Three Kingdoms, shoes with very low or no ankles were called “ri” or “hye” and high boots “hwa”.

Later through the Koryo and feudal Joson dynasties, leather shoes were made better in line with the aesthetic sense of the time and the taste of the people, and subsequently their names became diverse.

Shoes and boots equivalent to the previous “ri” were also found during the feudal Joson dynasty. They were named “hye”. “Hye” was sorted into hukphihye, punthuhye, thuhye, phichohye, thaesahye, palmaksin, jinsin, etc. while “hwa” was classified into hukphihwa, mokhwa, hyopgumhwa, kijahwa, jonphihwa, tanhwa, tonghwa, etc. All these were made mainly of leather, so they were called katsin (leather shoes). Leather shoes except jinsin were also called “marunsin” (dry shoes) as they were usually worn on dry land in good weather. Jinsin (wet shoes), true to the meaning of its name, was for muddy ground when it was snowing or raining, so it was made of oil-treated leather to stop water infiltrating inside. For durability and to keep leather shoes from moth, people used to hang them on the wall above the fireplace to expose them to smoke or put hog grease on the surface of leather.

Pak Sin Jong, researcher at the Academy of Social Sciences