Europeans Mock Korean Tourists in Hiking Outfits

Article from Kookmin Ilbo:

Koreans in Hiking Outfits Face Frowns and Derision in Europe

korean touists hiking outfits

Last summer, Kim Ah-reum (pseudonym) saw a group of ten people while she was waiting for admission to a Colosseum in Italy during her trip. At first glance, she knew they were South Koreans because they were dressed in hiking clothes with hiking backpacks.

A native Italian tour guide approached Ms. Kim and said with a chuckle, “I think those people don’t need to pay the entrance fee.” The guide meant that they could climb the wall of the ancient landmark instead of going through the front entrance, a joke that made Ms. Kim flush red in shame.

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.

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.

In less developed nations, South Koreans in hiking clothes could become targets of crime because the apparel makes criminals think they are rich.

Nam Seon-wu (58), is critical of the prevalence of hiking clothes among South Koreans, saying, “Costly hiking clothes have become clothes people wear in their daily lives and for outings, and outdoor clothes manufacturers are taking the blame for it.”

“Those manufacturers have not only launched advertising blitzes, but have also sponsored entertainment TV programs and drama series where their products have made frequent appearances as bein wearable in daily lives. This has helped create the myth that TV viewers without hiking clothes are behind in fashion, which leads consumers to buy hiking outfits.

Comments from Daum:


It’s been a while since I’ve read a decent article like this. I guess our parents’ generation is pitiful. They have been alienated from a good sense of fashion. But I can’t understand if young people dress themselves like that.

blueblazer님 [Responding to above]:

Tell them to go around mocking Cameron instead! In any case, he is destined to make a fool of himself just like Thatcher did.


Not just at tourist destinations, but also in wedding halls, church, funerals, they prefer to wear comfortable clothes. I admit the clothes are comfortable, but it is a matter of public awareness.


The public is too sensitive to the latest trends. You should find your own individuality.


No… Why does it matter? They dress like that because it’s comfortable and because it’s fashionable to them. Do we have to care about what others think? The article seems to only care about what others think.


I’m dumbfounded. The [Colosseum]. isn’t. even. a formal place. Why should we have to dress like Europeans? For the aesthetics of the city? That. is. such. typical. kowtowing. to Westerners.


Hiking outfits have great absorption ability, and they’re comfortable. If they like wearing it, shouldn’t it be okay?


This isn’t Europe. If you want to say it’s wrong to wear hiking clothes, you should give another reason for it. Whatever they do in Europe is reasonable, but whatever they do in Korea is strange? In Korea, everywhere you look, there are mountains. There are a lot of people whose only pleasure is hiking mountains after working the longest hours among the OECD countries.


If German people loved to wear hiking clothes everywhere, we would be sucking up to them, saying they value practicality. Is it just me?


After going to the Colosseum, they probably had plans to go to Mount Everest…


Such a pointless trash article!!


During trips where there is a lot of traveling around, it’s weird walking around formally dressed…When you’re at the ocean, should you wear beach clothes? When you’re hiking, should you always wear hiking clothes? Then what should you wear to the Colosseum?

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  • jeupsy

    I think the author of this article is taking himself too seriously and being a bit of a smart-ass trying to lecture his fellow Koreans about how to behave abroad … in summary a lot of fuss for nothing much.

    “Therefore, wearing hiking clothes in the city is unsuitable in the eyes of local Europeans.”

    In my (European) country most people wouldn’t care or notice, and some would possibly make fun of them … but unsuitable is a bit of a strong word. Maybe a bit silly looking in some peoples eyes, but not unsuitable (and frankly there are many more silly looking people that that in Europe :-D).

    • johndoe88

      You’re absolutely right. I’m Roman and I would only laugh at them, if I saw people wearing bright hiking clothes while walking around the Imperial Fora. Honestly, I would advise them not to wear those clothes for their own safety since they’re recognized as tourists much more easily and Rome isn’t exactly the safest city in the world.

  • k.ftw

    As a fellow European in a touristic city, believe me, no one cares..

    • Xman2014

      It’s the Korean media again, stirring up the pot to create yet another controversy where there is none. Stories like these are the run of the mill in a country where the media is corrupt and obsessed with pushing their agenda. There’s no new news here.

      • seno

        they r wacist!!!

      • ChosunChaoxianChosenSolongo

        Not even Korean media.. writer could be Overseas Chinese with Taiwan passport pretending to be Korean Online……. I see plenty of those kinds of people in Korea bang.

        • Zappa Frank

          And they can speak Korean as a native?

        • Barack Obama

          no it’s the japanese

      • Sid Driver

        Not to mention that the bad things that were said about Koreans came from Han who works at a Korean tourist agency… lol. If anything, I would be concerned that hiking clothes would mark them as tourists and therefore more likely to be robbed/taken advantage of/price gouged. Literally, when in Rome, do as the Romans do.

    • Jon Doe

      I’ve actually known quite a few Europeans to judge tourists based upon appearance. “Look at those stupid American’s (meanwhile they are Canadian) wearing running shoes and cargo shorts” ….as its balls hot out and they’re walking all day. Oh I’m sorry, they must have forgot to pack their wingtips, wool pants and sweater vests.

      • Webster

        I think they particularly hate back/fannypacks.

      • Guest

        That’s just reserved by some for Americans – as in bias speaks before superficiality.

      • Gordon Gogodancer

        Well Americans DO look stupid!
        Aren’t Americans and Canadians THE SAME?

        Just messing with you man. I think people are too sensitive about what some random idiots are saying about them. I can understand how they feel though.

        • KCdude

          “Aren’t Americans and Canadians THE SAME?”

          Nope. We’re still British by heart.

      • abz

        Honestly, Americans tend to get criticism because they’re loud and inconvenience the guide and other tourists.

        If they’re not like that people think they’re Canadian even if they’re not.

    • A Gawd Dang Mongolian

      As a fellow human, I never did care.

    • What?!!!

      As a European, seeing brightly clad Koreans walking round historic sites with their massive sun visors and bright hiking gear, I laugh at them.

      • Gordon Gogodancer

        ahahahha! finally! an honest person! They do look funny!
        The problem is the koreans being offended by something so minor.
        As a white european guy living in China i climbed up (walked up) EMEI mountain with 2 friends, we didn’t have our t-shirts on and Chinese tourists walked passed us with their children happily singing “Monkeys! monkeys! ” Most of the adults laughed while some, probably knowing that calling people monkeys just might offend them, looked embarrassed. Its fair play coming from children, we know what China is like, we didn’t write an article about it.

        • shellfishbisque

          How the hell did you climb Mount Emei without a t-shirt on? I did the climb in early September a few years ago and it was freezing during the latter half of the hike.

          On a more relevant note, the macaques who live on the mountain, acting in their typical discriminatory fashion, stole a number of objects from me, the lone American of my group. It must have been my orange shirt.

        • Chucky3176

          What does Chinese do in their own country, got to do with Korean hikers?

      • lllewelll

        It’s mostly SHOW… this talk is far less racist, and more cynical/’jokey’… like at school, teasing a ridiculous sweater or something. Koreans are used to OVERKILL with their hiking gear in Korea… trying to look ‘brighter’ and ‘newer’ than each other. Trouble is, they get overseas in a far less pretentious place, which has some heritage to actually be proud of, and these exhibitionists are vainly parading their goofy/”Here I Am!!” hiking costumes… tone it wayyyy down.

    • chon

      obviously a korean being typically defensive and trying to make excuses. And too many koreans reading this website judging from the amount of up votes

  • Blah

    Last summer I saw a group of Japanese people dressed in professional biking clothes having a drink on a terrace on the outskirts of Amsterdam. I thought they formed some advanced cycling club because of their fancy uniform-like attire. But they left wobbling on citybikes (the ones with a basket up front and a classic bell) and panicked when a car wanted to pass. One lady even fell.
    Dutch people tend to have a strong no nonsense attitude so we do raise our eyebrows at such situations. But we let them be because they’re just doing their thing as the stereotypical middleaged asian tourist I suppose.

    By the way, Europeans can’t always recognize the asian language being spoken by those tourists so it’s not ‘silly South Koreans’ or ‘silly Japanese’. It’s usually ‘silly asians’ or the more generalising ‘silly Chinese’.

    • Santi

      hahaha this made my laugh a little. “One lady fell”

    • Jim Sturk

      I started to laugh already here: “and panicked when a car wanted to pass”

      I can see it infront of me: the group of japanes on bikes and their panick in there eyes when the car come ” a car is coming! and im stuck on a bike, where to go?!!! ahhh!!! so one lady fell:)

  • Bernd

    I thought it was a German thing to wear this kind of “outdoor” fashion.
    This helped me a lot to spot the Germans abroad, expensive Jack Wolfskin jackets.

    • samm7

      People don’t wear those here in germany, only wannabe rich people.

  • post.human

    I have never heard of this. Those clothes look completely unremarkable.

  • jay

    I wouldn’t really care unless they look like lady gaga or a homeless person.

  • 금정산

    Ostentatious Koreans aren’t really a laughingstock but I find them to be disgraceful. They don’t wear the clothes for comfort or for absorption ability – they are worn for appearances and many don’t go hiking. They are worn simply because they are expensive and they want other people to consider them rich and successful. These are the same people who buy expensive gadgets for the children. Sad, really.

    • Smith_90125

      Seen that. The Korean idea of “hiking” is to walk through the city or riverside park.

      Remember when Lee Bong-Ju won the Boston marathon in 2001? For the next month, parks (places, not people) were full of Koreans wearing running shoes and running clothes, aping him. Parks and trails were so full that even bike trails were being overrun. And a lot of them were wheezing and gasping, pulling out cigarettes as they stopped to rest.

      As you might expect, within two months they had all stopped running and the parks were as empty as they were before.

    • Sid Driver

      I was reprimanded by an ajeossi once while hiking for not wearing proper hiking clothes. I had running shoes, shorts, a tshirt, and a bottle of water. I thought he was joking at first then I realized he was serious. I just shrugged it off and continued on my merry way.

  • bigmamat

    I’m sure this article is exaggerated, but it’s not really bad advise. You should attempt to not stand out. It just makes you a larger target. Thieves will know a tourist even when they don’t announce themselves through unusual dress or actions. Korea has it’s own notions about appropriate dress. I don’t see why anyone should be offended if Europeans have noticed Koreans dress differently. It’s not a big deal other than Koreans should understand that Europe, the US and other places aren’t like Korea. People will steal your shit.

    • redwhitedude

      The only bad thing about what they wear is that it is flashy and that is a thief magnet.

      • ludendorf

        Well….it’s also bad and low class to wear synthetic orange polyester pants around the place. It’s a bit bumpkinish.

  • Paolo

    Better than what the middle-aged Americans wear in Europe…

    • MikeinGyeonggi

      Amateur golf clothes? :)

  • Blendy

    This article is bullshit. I’m European and nobody cares about Koreans wearing hiking gear around the town. It might look funny to some folks but to most it’s just a cultural difference.

  • HAndy

    I went on a hiking trip this summer with my Korean girlfriend and her colleagues. I’m a much more experienced hiker than her, and so I know what to wear to be comfortable on a hike. As it was summertime, and the hike was long but not especially difficult, I just wanted to wear a normal pair of shorts. My girlfriend was adamant that I had to wear hiking pants, going so far as to try to purchase some for me. I really didn’t want to – I knew my comfy shorts would be best. In short, this hiking gear craze isn’t all about wearing the most comfortable clothes as much as its about conforming to the accepted uniform for each occasion.

    • MeCampbell30

      Maybe you have uncommonly hairy legs and she was embarrassed.

  • Small twon

    Frankly…who care ? as long as they don’t strip and dance in front of a pope ,no one would care.

    • ludendorf

      Euros dont appreciate tackiness. Its a big no no. Orange polyester pants will not be accepted.

      • Small twon

        Ha, good one :) that was funny.

    • harvz

      A pope? You mean there’s more than one pope?

      • Small twon

        There are ex pope (German one) still alive and kicking. not sure what I should call him ..yeap there are two pope , my grammer nazi heathen friend, so repent your sinful comment :)

  • ludendorf

    The fact is polyester hiking clothes are tacky.

  • B

    I don’t know who are the “Europeans” that this article is pointing out, but I don’t see anything remarkable about those clothes. I’d be more surprised by simply seeing a korean in a mountain here in Spain. I guess whoever wrote this crap felt that people were mocking on their clothes but maybe it was simply beause they were asian. Either way, who gives a flying fuck? Pointless article.

    • Gypsy-bot

      Here’s the thing, the clothes don’t look remarkable. What IS remarkable is when 1000 Korean tourists a day show up in hiking clothes.

      It’s not wrong– it’s just funny.

  • Europeans are just as bad lol.

    … Americans are the worst. XD

    • Priceless

      There’s no need to put down another culture to make you’re point! This article was made by a fellow Korean trying to stir up propaganda for whatever they’re reasons. No one cares what Asian tourist wears. Now when they get behind a rental car is a different thing all together. ;)

      • propernot

        oh yea, because its always ‘propaganda’ when its something negative about koreans

  • justme

    this is such a stupid article I couldn’t read the whole thing. They are TOURISTS. They will stand out in one way or another, no matter what. So who cares what they wear? What are you, the police? Compared to asking people to make their fashion blend in, I am sure there are many issues related to cultural differences in acceptable manners that might be more important IF your goal was actually to leave a good impression on the locals.

    I say this as an American who has lived in Korea.

  • Balkan

    Of course. Europeans have nothing better to do than think about the way Korean tourists dress. That is what we do all day and all night. We hardly have time to sleep and eat because how hard we think about Korean tourists.

    This article is ridiculous.

  • Kunin

    I laugh at koreans in korea for their hiking fashion, just as they laugh at me for mine. But not because I find it unfashionable, because, they spend hundreds of dollars each year to look good while walking a trail up a hill. I get laughed at cause im wearing my same ole camos i got 15 years ago. Everybody’s got their own style.

  • KKT

    Well….the writer of the article knows exactly what his doing. Fabricating stories which targets the exact (and I’m sorry if I offend anyone) insecurities of people in Korean…..their image. How else will you get more reads and comments then to write an article about what “Europeans”, who in itself is a very large generalisation, think about Koreans. Good job writer, much be very proud of yourself now!!

  • ottosilver

    The article does not say Koreans should not wear what they wear. It says they are sticking out because if what they are wearing. The first is a personal opinion, the second is a valid observation.

  • Patricks

    Slightly off topic, but I have found it really odd when I have gone to watch professional tennis matches in Korea. What do many Koreans wear? Well if they wear soccer jerseys to cheer on the football team, I guess they assume they should wear tennis clothes to watch tennis matches. Some even bring their rackets. Funny.

  • Boring

    Of course people wearing hiking gear and walking round the town looking like they’re going on some kind of expedition is funny. Korean people don’t do things by halves. If they’re going to walk up a hill, then they’re gonna have every last piece of equipment you would need to walk up that hill. The ski poles are my personal favourite, they get me every time, especially when they carry two each, which they almost always do.

  • A Touch of Sin

    From my experience living in Korea, I do think the bright red/yellow/green/purple hiking outfits do look rather conspicuous. Not a problem, though not exactly subtle.

    But all I can say is, KOREANS LOVE ACCESSORIES!!!

  • harp0inseouI

    I’m rather torn about the whole thing. On the one hand, the article is not at all newsworthy. Nobody in Europe cares about your image and would not bat an eyelash at Korean mountain clothing. But on the other hand, some of the clothing look really gaudy, with various pockets of different colors, strange stitching, it looks so tacky. I know certain trousers use this really stretchy material. Very comfortable.

    What I would like to see is a clothing company that comes up with very comfortable clothing and make it so it can be worn both in the office and mountain climbing.
    All purpose clothing. Lose the stupid stitching, freaky colors and outlandishly stupid brand labels. That’s what I want.

    • Xman2014

      mmmm…. Koreans only go for high end Western brands like North Face which has been all the rage for couple of years now.

  • Menno

    742.5 million people (that live in Europe) do not give a single fuck. Bad trashing article.

  • Europeans- in particular Germans love outdoor clothes and they wear and combine them with other clothes all the time. I doubt there is any mocking going on… I would be surprised if they noticed!

  • joonie

    Well, i dunno. But some tourist sometimes indeed baffling.

    For example i live in south east asia. It’s basically summer here all year. So, naturally many tourists that come from 4 season countries tend to wear thin, and relatively revealing clothes. Which is ok, and they look nice, too. But some people just…take it too far. Like, some of the western tourists looks like they just hang whatever fabric available on their body and let every part of their skin hanging in a…distasteful way. Yea yea you can wear whatever you want and people should respect other’s choice but really, tho.

    You visit a country and not even concerning a tid bit of the culture there and wishing that everybody respects you for your choices. Just.

    This has nothing to do with the above article, i just wanna rant i guess. Hohoh.

  • ChosunChaoxianChosenSolongo

    Koreans don’t care… Like Germans wear socks with slippers…………

  • Jan Bro

    Wear what you wanna wear man…..

  • x1sfg

    Nobody cares. Go to the Pacific Northwest or Nor cal, everyone is in hiking and climbing gear. I just can’t stand those hipsters who wear lumberjack plaid but with a $500 scarf.

  • Smith_90125

    I lost count of how many ajummas I saw in Korea wearing leopard print pants, how many ajossis wearing golf pants everywhere. That’s observation, not comment.

    What’s normal in one country (or was in 2005) might seem weird in other countries. Civilized countries can’t understand yanks and their shame about the human body, vis-a-vis men’s clothes and swimwear.

  • samm7

    But really, nobody cares here in Europe, wear what you like!

  • draykul

    Americana in their sandals with socks, or jeans with hiking boots combi are free to dress like that of course. But it looks pathetic and they get slack for it. But koreans in their outdoor wear take it to a whole other level. Pjs are meant to be worn to bed, swimming trunks at the beach, outdoor wear in the mountains. There are certain unwritten rules in civilized countries regarding things like these. Dont go to dinner wearing flip flops and shorts, dont go around in a wife beater, etc… this has nothing to do with individuality and taste… outdoor wear has a function and purpose, that is not to be worn in the city. See a group of tourists in outdoor wear and it will look ridiculous. And yes you should be embarrassed

  • Az Ze

    I live in Pusan and love hiking. I’ve also hiked many mountains in South Korea and find the fashion sense of these people incredible. When I see all the bright colours of ajumma and ajosshi with their walking canes, $200 pair of glasses and professional hiking boots I just think I am in a bad fashion trip from the 70s and live in Korea where there is no fashion sense or originality.

  • Peter K

    Don’t mind it, as Korean-German who sees them like this here in Munich and saw them at the Bukhansan wearing all that stuff….. I only always ask myself if it isn’t too hot in so much cloths. I myself am a passionate hiker, but in summer/early fall i really don’t want to hike in long pants and shits and a jacket.

  • roninstevie

    Greetings from Vienna! 1. Europeans can not spot the difference between Koreans, Thai or Chinese. They all look Japanese for us! ;-) 2. Wearing or comibing hiking outfits with city clothes, is quite normal for locals. Btw., you will see much more Jack Wolfskin, North Face or Mammuth in the inner city of Vienna than on a snowy mountain trail in the Austrian alps.
    So do not worry fellow Koreans. You will blend just right in!

    • Mariana Ferreira Albuquerque

      In here (Spain) they’re all Chinese

  • jonny

    i don’t care what they say. korean women are beautiful.. there are many working in canada and the states as hookers. oh they are so yummy. i spend half my paycheck on them. i would wear their vaginas like oxygen masks

  • What?!!!

    Koreans stick out a mile when they’re abroad. The whole country looks like it shops at the same few stores. Stores that sell very silly clothes.

  • Pessimismo e Fastidio

    I’m from Italy.
    It was only a joke, we make jokes about everyone and about everything.
    The tour guide probably was only bored.
    Some citizen of Rome dress like centurions to be pictured with tourists, how many jokes can you tell on that?
    Dress what you want nobody cares.

  • jxs9

    Those hiking clothes are a little too bright for me but they would work well if you get lost in the middle of the woods.

  • Lolsordpoodle

    I always laugh at foreign tourists. Especially the fat ones.

  • cin

    its not just these hiking gear, what’s with koreans and polo shirts and cargo shorts? its like their national aim is to look like preppy snobs

  • Hwang Dongseong

    What a trash article. I live in north Europe and I wear hiking clothes everyday because it’s fucking comfortable. Nobody takes care of my outfit. European usually don’t care of others appearance. Why so self dis to your people.

    • a korean

      because they are ugly as fuck and even your countrymen knows it

  • redgirls

    Should read, One European, mocks One Korean tourist, most are quite happy they chose to visit, and hope they enjoy their stay.Don,t judge everything on one asshole and his mate

  • Guest

    “No… Why does it matter? They dress like that because it’s comfortable and because it’s fashionable to them. Do we have to care about what others think? The article seems to only care about what others think.”
    basically this

  • BSDetector

    Taking flack for doing something abroad that’s no big deal at home? It’s no fun being the ugly American is it? Besides it’s pretty common knowledge that the majority of them wear it to show off expensive gear not because it’s comfortable otherwise they wouldn’t be outfitted to scale Everest just to stroll to the main gate, veer off to the side, and setup a picnic in the woods. Points to the Kookmin Ilbo for calling out this ridiculousness.

  • badathebingboom

    I’ve been reading a few of these articles on Korea Bang, and uh…they all seem to display some sort of cunty angle (not explicit, more like, “whaddya think?”) on how Koreans should feel, look, etc. And the comments that they translate are the most inane ones chosen from the bottom heap of the Korean netizen trash. Why’re you guys doing this man? Yo, if korean tourists wanna wear hiking clothes, who in the cunty fuck cares? You know what gives away if they’re tourists? Their asian faces in Europe.

  • KKKorean1PPPeninsula1

    Koreans do not care.

    • GJM

      Believe me, Europeans DO NOT care. I have never heard of Europeans mocking middle aged Koreans in loud coloured hiking gear — it’s a non – article, and now Koreans will seethe with anger, believing ‘Europeans racists laugh at them’.
      What a stupid article.

  • lel

    I live in the UK and I have no problem whatsoever with anyone wearing “hiking” clothes, they look fine to me. WHO CARES HONESTLY? Sit people watching in a major town or city and the myriad of clothing styles that people wear is amazing…and no one bats an eyelid.

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