The latest over at koreaBANG is the hilarious case of the technicolor hiking gear worn by Korean tourists no matter where they go. Europeans who bother to notice find groups of Koreans in overpriced fruitloop apparel to be incongruous with things like, uh, the center of Rome.
Hiking clothes have become the norm among many South Koreans as clothes they wear when going on a trip. No matter what the destination is– the sea, mountain or whatever, the huge popularity of hiking outfit has reached the point where people see no difference between tourist clothes and hiking clothes. South Koreans’ love of outdoor clothes, without exception, can be seen in their overseas trips as well.
For officials in the European tourist industry, body-hugging hiking outfits in solid colors are emblematic of tourist groups from South Korea.
The problem is local European people often feel strange when they see South Korean tourists in hiking outfits as they find their clothes to be incongruous with the surrounding landscape.
Europeans have historically engaged in many outdoor activities, so Europe of course, also has outdoor clothes in flashy solid colors. However, those clothes are worn so that hikers in distress in snow-covered mountains can easily be found.
Therefore, wearing hiking clothes in the city is unsuitable in the eyes of local Europeans.
Well, what do Europeans, let alone Italians, know about fashion? Besides, everyone in Korea knows that neon-colored fabric is worn to keep from getting run over by Korean taxi drivers wearing hiking gear of their own.
One official, surnamed Han, at major South Korean tourism agency Hana Tour said, “We advised our customers who go on overseas trips not “to put on hiking clothes in flamboyant solid colors” when they are in a city for sightseeing because they could be stared at by local people there who find their clothes to be an eyesore.
“Hiking clothes worn by South Korean tourists because they are comfortable, or because the clothes are expensive and they want to show them off, have made Koreans a laughingstock in Europe. This has led Europeans to label them as ‘ugly Koreans,’ added Mr. Han.
This is what happens when Koreans get more of the global spotlight they’ve been begging for, good and hard. But my suspicion is that this piece is more about Korean authors fashion-shaming Korean proles who make their countrymen look ridiculous abroad.