Onerous regulations prescribing long lists of permissible and forbidden types of clothing were imposed on Koreans in 1943 to promote a ‘minimalist lifestyle’ of ‘Japanese beauty and simplicity’ in the name of wartime resource conservation

In September 1943, almost two years into waging war against the United States and Britain, facing extreme shortages in everything from food to clothing, Imperial Japan imposed some draconian clothing restrictions regulating what Koreans can and cannot wear, framing these regulations in the name of promoting a ‘minimalist lifestyle’ that would conserve resources and eventually win the war. Enforcement of the regulations was performed by the Korean Federation of National Power (国民総力朝鮮連盟, 국민총력조선연맹), which functioned as the one and only political party of Korea, and the patriotic groups (JP: aikoku-han, KR: aeguk-ban, 愛國班), which were the local level neighborhood cells of the political party. 

It was very difficult to translate all the clothing-specific terminology, so I did my best to add outside images and links to Wikipedia and other online resources to make sense of what was being referred to in these articles.


Gyeongseong Ilbo (Keijo Nippo) September 22, 1943

The War Lifestyle Reader Series: Clothing

Men are to wear National Uniform Type B

Short sleeves and maru-obi for women are abolished

Modern warfare is a total war in which all domestic resources are concentrated on achieving the objectives of the war. Therefore, the national people on the home front are no different from the front-line combatants, and their daily lifestyle is literally a war lifestyle. This transformed form of war lifestyle, which cannot be governed by the peacetime assumptions of what a war lifestyle is supposed to be like, is not to be lived under the meager goal of ‘stabilizing the lifestyles of the people’. Rather, it is to be lived under the goal of enduring the ‘minimalist lifestyle’, which is truly ruthless and merciless. The ‘minimalist lifestyle’ is a way of life in which food, clothing, and shelter, the three essential conditions for human existence, are reduced to the minimum. The last victors of modern warfare will be the people who can endure this simple lifestyle and succeed in waging this war, which is the great objective of the nation. This column is an attempt to describe this minimalist lifestyle from an economic perspective, and is entitled the ‘War Lifestyle Reader’.

In order to win the Greater East Asia War, everything in the nation is being rapidly shifted to a decisive war-fighting posture, and the most urgent issue at hand is the complete simplification of food, clothing, and shelter, the largest elements of national life. Among these, the simplification of clothing was decided upon at a regular cabinet meeting held on June 4 this year with the “Outline for the Simplification of Wartime Clothing”, and this was implemented in mainland Japan on August 10. Therefore, in order for Korea to follow suit, the Governor-General’s Office issued a statement on August 22, clearly stating the policy to secure essential clothing and thoroughly conserve clothing materials. The main points were the following:

(1) Essential items necessary for the people’s clothing are to be selected.

(2) Simplification is to be done without regard to mere hobbies, tastes, fashions, or business customs, as had been done in the past.

(3) Goals have been set to rationalize yarn consumption, improve quality, and rationalize production.

(4) In consideration of the difficulties in supplying materials and reconfiguring facilities, the best use shall be made of existing facilities as much as possible.

Before, there were 135 types of wide fabrics and several thousand types of narrow fabrics, but the standards were reorganized into 6 types of rayon fabrics, 13 types of mixed rayon fabrics, 64 types of silk fabrics, and 30 types of mixed silk fabrics, for a total of 113 types.

The Korean Textile Association, the Korean Federation of National Power, the Patriotic Women’s Association of Korea, and other related organizations will soon play a central role in the “wartime clothing simplification campaign” to simplify the clothing of the people in all of Korea. The policies, guidelines, and outlines are the following:

▲Policy: Simplify the general clothing of the people, abolish luxury goods, raise morale, and improve the physical condition of the people while considering the special circumstances of Korea. Mental tension must be maintained to strengthen and renew the wartime lifestyle while not losing the sense of simplicity and beauty of the Japanese people, and clothing materials must be actively conserved in light of the current supply and demand situation for textile materials.


  1. In addition to greatly simplifying the types and standards of textiles, a designated production system will be implemented across the board to greatly minimize the production of high-end and non-urgent products.
  2. In dyeing, the use of flamboyant colors shall be avoided, and color schemes shall be limited to plain colors of the highest quality.
  3. In the tailoring of clothing, the amount of fiber shall be reduced as much as possible, while at the same time making it more active and hygienic.
  4. Organizations shall avoid the establishment of new uniforms from now on, and take measures to utilize national uniforms or plain clothes (even in cases where uniforms have already been established, measures shall be taken to permit the wearing of non-regulation clothing, unless there are particular obstacles to this).
  5. With regard to personal effects and other household articles, their types and standards shall be simplified as much as possible, and the manufacture of luxury and non-urgent items shall be prohibited.
  6. The manufacturing of new clothing shall be suppressed, and the rehabilitation of whatever clothing is on hand shall be thoroughly promoted as much as possible, and the ceremonial dress for weddings, funerals, and other general ceremonies shall be simplified.

Guidelines for the Simplification of Clothing

I. The following points shall be taken into consideration with regard to fabrics

  1. For the Kijaku type of silk fabrics, production shall be concentrated on products in demand by the masses as much as possible.
  2. For narrow fabrics and fabrics for obi, widths and lengths shall be shortened to conform to those of mainland Japan, and the production of luxury and non-urgent products shall be prohibited.

II. Regarding dyeing, the use of ornate colors and patterns shall be abolished in favor of plain colors of high quality, and the number of colors shall be limited to three or less.

III. The following guidelines shall be applied to the tailoring of clothing for both men and women.

Right: National Uniform Type B, Left: National Uniform Type A


  1. Men’s clothes: (a) The ceremonial clothes and activewear of adults (21 years of age and over) shall be based on the National Uniform Type B, and newly tailored suits shall be prohibited (b) New home clothes shall not be made at all, and they shall be limited to the tanzen kimono in the winter and military clothes (yukata) in the summer (c) For Korean-style clothes, sleeveless vests shall be abolished, and the string fasteners of upper and lower garments shall be replaced with buttons (d) The activewear for young men (including secondary, vocational, and college students from 14 to 20 years of age) shall be made in the same way as that of adult men 21 years of age and older (e) The home clothes of young men shall be replaced with activewear, and all new tailoring shall be of the National Uniform Type B (f) The home clothes of school children (from 7 to 13 years of age) shall be replaced with school children’s uniforms, and the uniforms shall not be particularly limited to a certain type (g) Infants (6 years old and under) shall be dressed in infants’ clothes. (h) Newly tailored cloaks shall be single-breasted and have a stand-up collar.
  2. Women’s clothes: (a) Ceremonial clothes shall not be newly manufactured. For celebratory and somber occasions, an insignia shall be applied to turn the clothes into ceremonial clothes (b) Japanese-style clothing shall be tailored with short sleeves, and standard women’s clothing (Western-style type 1, Western-style type 2, and activewear)   shall be worn as much as possible (c) For Korean-style clothes, all string fasteners shall be replaced with buttons, and chima dresses shall be tubular (d) For young women’s activewear, blouses, skirts, and one-piece dresses shall be worn in the summer, and jumpsuits and skirts in the winter (e) For adults and young women, standard women’s clothing (Japanese-style type 2) and Monpe work pants shall be the main type of home clothes (f) Nagajuban kimono underwear and other ready-made kimono items should be abolished as much as possible (g) Maru-obi and fukuro-obi shall be abolished, and the use of Nagoya-obi, katagawa-obi, and hitoe-obi shall be with shorter widths and lengths (h) Embroidery and shibori dyeing on lapels shall be discontinued (i) Schoolgirl uniforms shall not be particularly limited to a certain type, and the removal of decorative parts shall be in accordance with the standard women’s clothing as far as possible (j) The clothing of school children and infants shall be in accordance with those for male school children and male infants.

Left to right: woman in jumpsuit, woman in tubular-style chima dress, woman in Monpe workpants, man in National Uniform Type B  
Women’s activewear
Japanese-style Type 2
Western-style type 1
Western-style type 2

IV. Others

  1. Dress shirts shall be with single cuffs.
  2. The manufacture of new neckties shall be prohibited.
  3. Underwear shall be mainly made of woven fabrics for summer wear, and mainly made of knit yarn for winter wear.
  4. Socks shall be plain in color and short in length.
  5. New hats shall be military hats.
  6. Summer gloves shall be discontinued for both men and women.
  7. Women’s hats shall be abolished.
  8. Socks for female students shall be short socks in the summer.
  9. Underwear shall be simplified in their varieties and standards, and the chemise shall be abolished.

As described above, both men and women are required by the national government to thoroughly simplify their clothing. Originally, humanity was born naked, and they used to wear grass and leaves over parts of their bodies, but as human culture improved, they began to wear clothes covering all parts of their bodies. Subsequently, people have come to compete over flamboyant fashion trends. However, in a time of war, it is unacceptable to wear clothing that merely satisfies one’s vanity. This is why there are calls for the simplification of wartime clothing, but in practicing such simplification, it is necessary to change to wartime clothing suitable for Japan the fighting nation without losing the Japanese sense of simplicity and beauty.


Credit to むかしの装い


Gyeongseong Ilbo (Keijo Nippo) August 31, 1943

Farewell to the old chima dress! Go with the new tubular style of the chima dress!

Let’s cut off the long sleeves of Japanese-style clothes. Of course, the chima dress of Korean-style clothes will also be changed to a tubular style. The meeting of the Patriotic Women’s Association held at the Seoul Citizens Hall on August 30 had a serious tone. It is no longer the time to walk around wearing a long chima dress, holding it in one hand and waving it around. We Korean women are strongly determined to stand firm. We will save the long string fasteners that hang down from our chests and replace them with buttons, and we will donate the string towards the war effort, gathering all our strength to stop the United States and Britain from attacking us. Such is the powerful initiative of the Patriotic Women’s Association. [The inserted image is that of a chima dress which is not appropriate for fighting decisive battles]

‘Chima dress which is inappropriate for fighting decisive battles’



Gyeongseong Ilbo (Keijo Nippo) October 17, 1943

Which is more appropriate as activewear? Let’s get dressed for battle!

The “change of clothes for battle” started with the national uniform for men, followed by widespread calls for improved clothing for women, with ‘Genroku sleeves‘ for men and ‘tubular-style chima dresses’ for Korean women being seen at home and on the streets. It is encouraging to see the ‘Genroku sleeves’ for men and ‘tubular-style chima dresses’ for Korean women in homes and on the streets, but there are still people wearing old ‘fashionable clothes’ or uniforms which are inappropriate for fighting decisive battles. Is this the right thing to do? On the front lines, bloody battles are being fought over and over again. In order to march forward on the road to victory, everyone must be deployed into a battle posture in “fighting clothes”.

The Gyeonggi-do Branch of the Patriotic Women’s Association included the question, “Are you wearing battle clothes?” in its October circular, and circulated it to all patriotic groups to encourage women to reflect and get inspired. However, some households began to mistakenly believe that Monpe work pants are to be worn only for special occasions, and others began to buy new, fashionable clothes spending more than 100 yen per piece. These battle clothes are the only daily activewear that should be worn.

Which of these two pictures show old clothes which must be remade as much as possible into true activewear? Let us all march forward, wearing our Monpe work pants as battle clothes, to destroy the United States and Britain! [Photos: the top photo shows an active type of Monpe work pants; the bottom photo shows old-style clothes of a non-active type]

Monpe work pants
Non-active type Kimono





京城日報 1943年9月22日







































京城日報 1943年8月31日




京城日報 1943年10月17日