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Minjee Kim, based in the San Francisco Bay Area, is an independent dress historian and lecturer specializing in Korean dress. She was born in Korea and received her BA (1991), MA (1993), and PhD (2000) from Seoul National University. Her doctoral dissertation, A Study on the Costume of Balhae Dynasty (698-926), has been recognized as the first significant research of the period, which at the time was the least touched among the history of Korean dress. Since 1991 she has continued to publish papers on newly compiled primary sources pertaining to her topic. She has worked as a faculty member at Jeonju Kijeon College, a lecturer at Seoul National University, and an exhibition consultant for the Balhae gallery at the National Folk Museum. She also conducted costume replication projects for the War Memorial Museum, the Seoul National University Museum, and the drawing of the portrait of Dae Jo-yeong, the first king of Balhae, which was certified by the Korean government.

After moving to the US in 2000, Kim noticed that hanbok, the Korea's traditional dress, was little known internationally and has dedicated herself to raising its visibility both in academia and for the general public. Her early presentations introduced the unique qualities of Korean dress and textiles in terms of design elements, construction, clothing practices, and symbolism through historical reviews. Through the comparative perspective of viewing hanbok in greater pan-Asian context in global dress culture, She has exerted to provide a comprehensive account of Korean dress for global audiences. For the recent years, she has expanded her interests to include changes in hanbok since Westernization in modern and postmodern times, the haute couture interpretation of Korean aesthetics by outsiders (Western designers), and the issue of cultural appropriation.  

 

Kim’s presentation topics include the following: The History and Philosophy of Korean Costume: Design, Structure, Rank and Fashion (J. Paul Getty Museum, 2013), Structure, Colors, and Symbolism of Korean Bridal Robes: Hwarot and Wonsam (Asian Art Museum, 2013), Gorgeous Hanbok (Asian Art Museum, 2014), Korean Traditional Clothing: Talk and Demonstration (Asian Art Museum, 2015), Crossing Boundaries: For the Awareness of East Asian Aesthetics in Global Fashion” (keynote speech for the 27th International Costume Congress, Seoul, 2016), The Aesthetics of Hanbok Mirrored in High Fashion” (The 1st International Hanbok Seminar for Specialists, “Soigné and Sustainable: Hanbok as Inspiration for Future Fashion,” Fashion Institute of Technology, 2016), “Rediscovery of Hanbok as Creative Design Inspiration” (International Hanbok Education Program sponsored by the Hanbok Advancement Center, Korea, FIT and Rutgers University, 2016), Primary Sources for the Korean Dress Historiography: Categorization, Authentication and Interpretation” (Conference, “Documenting Korean Costume: Primary Sources and New Interpretations,” sponsored by the Academy of Korean Studies Grants, The Charles B. Wang Center, State University of New York at Stony Brook, 2017), Hanbok in Modern and Postmodern Times: Fashion, Counter-Fashion, and Anti-Fashion,” (Brown Bag Lunch Seminar, Bard Graduate Center, 2017), Fashion and Textile Art of Korea: The Dynamism of Interrelationships.” (Sebastopol Center for the Arts, 2017)


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