It’s freezing cold during winter in South Korea. But the harsh weather cannot keep Vietnamese women there from being fascinated at wearing “Ao dai” – the traditional Vietnamese long dress, which makes them feel warm in their hearts.
Le Thi Anh Thu, Director of the Vietnamese Cultural Center in South Korea
, says: "I have an endless passion for “Ao dai”. I studied “Ao dai” design and hoped to promote the dress in South Korea. But I was unable to do so upon my arrival in the 1990s for financial reasons and my lack of design ability but I clung to that determination. Now I hope my little contribution will make “Ao dai” recognized around the world."
Thu founded the Vietnam “Ao dai” club to promote the traditional dress to foreign friends. Her love for “Ao dai” and her homeland Vietnam has been transmitted to other Vietnamese women living in South Korea, each of whom has at least 4 “Ao dai” costumes. The dress makes them feel as if Vietnam is always with them.
Vu Thi Huyen, member of the Vietnam “Ao dai” club in South Korea, shares her feeling: "I’m proud of “Ao dai” so I decided to join the club. I and other club members from across South Korea share the pride of wearing “Ao dai” at any “Ao dai” shows that we attend."
Do Thi Thoa, member of the Vietnam “Ao dai” club in South Korea, says: "Only when I arrived South Korea did I begin to wear “Ao dai”. I’m so proud of it. When I hang out in casual outfits, people often ask me “Where are you from” but when I wear “Ao dai”, no one needs to ask to know that I’m from Vietnam. "
South Korean people are familiar with Vietnamese women showing off their charming beauty in “Ao dai” while walking on the street. The costume is a vivid expression of patriotism and national identity.
Le Thi Anh Thu, Director of the Vietnamese Cultural Center in South Korea, says: "The culture of a country is reflected in its cuisine and costumes. Vietnam’s “Ao dai” is distinguished from traditional costume of other countries. A woman can be easily recognized as Vietnamese from her “Ao dai”, which is loved by foreign friends thanks to its beautiful design."
South Korean women have the hanbok. Japanese have the kimono. And Vietnamese women have the “Ao dai”. Aesthetic perspectives may change from time to time but the beauty of “Ao dai” is forever.