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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