Today I would like to share with you one of Korea’s loveliest cultural collectable dolls~ Youn-Ji  연지 by Sonokong! Youn-Ji 연지 is an 11″ fashion doll that was specially developed to celebrate Korean traditional beauty and aesthetics ♥

복이    (48,000원)

Korea makes lots of beautiful and extremely collectable dolls, so I am always on the lookout for new ones! Youn-ji immediately caught my attention last year when I came upon her during a visit to the ToysRus in Seoul~ sitting very pretty with her hanbok in a lovely collectable box.

Every so often I have come upon a doll with a special hanbok release like Ddung or even Barbie, but those pale in comparison to the detail put into Youn-Ji dolls. If you are looking for a special Hanbok doll for your collection or a gift, this is one of the best ones in terms of beauty and authenticity that you can buy!

Each doll is handmade here in Korea with absolute care for every single tiny piece.  The dolls are designed with historical outfits in mind, and often names or designs are inspired by famous Korean tales or even traditional paintings.  The fabric used to sew each outfit is authentic hanbok material, so the textures and look match the human-sized attire from the silk embroidered outerwear down to the rougher textured undergarments.

진달래    ( 63,000원)

Each face is hand-painted along with her rooted eyelashes and often very elaborate braided hair, complete with tiny ornaments.

“I’ve always loved the traditional Korean hanbok and have known its beauty since a young age.  My wish was to create a true hanbok doll that could represent Korea”  – Choi Shin-Kyu CEO & President of Sonokong co.

(Check out some old English subbed clips HERE from his “heart to heart” interview in 1999 about the doll line)

The brand launched in 1997 under much skepticism due to the cost of production and traditional subject matter, but the CEO felt very passionately about making a doll that could truly represent Korean culture so that Koreans and Foreigners alike could appreciate its beauty. Over the last few years she has found a nice market of collectors in Korea, this could be attributed to the massive popularity of  “사극”  historical period dramas.

The prices of the dolls range from around 35,000 won for the simplest designs to 80,000 won for hanboks with lots of details.  Extremely elaborate outfits for royal weddings and such range from 100,000- almost 200,000 won due to all the details and time involved in making them.  The company states that they try very hard to keep the price as low as possible for the customer by cutting the profits they should take vs cutting production costs.

♥ ♥ ♥

Considering the time, layering, and detail involved with many of the Youn-ji figures I found the prices to be very reasonable for a collectable doll like this considering they are made in small factories locally in lower production runs (about 500 I read in one interview) vs a massive production line someplace in China.

 The doll’s name “Youn-Ji 연지” comes from “연지곤지“  which is the traditional red makeup worn in Korea when you get married AKA those red dots you often see in wedding photos or period dramas.  연지 is the name of the red make up dots used to mark the cheeks of the bride, and 곤지 is the name of the dot marked on the forehead.

The makeup is said to ward of bad spirits and is also used as a sign of virginity~

Interesting tidbit I dug up~ apparently Sonokong started making its dolls under a partnership with Takara (Japanese company of “Jenny” and “Licca-chan” doll fame) although I have not been able to find out clearly if Takara simply was consulted, commissioned to develop the dolls, designed the doll bases, etc since everything is painted and sewn in Korea now.  In Youn-Ji’s early days from 1997-1999 you can see the Takara resemblance a LOT more in the sculpt, plus the quality was noticeably lower and it felt a bit more like a girls toy VS an expensive collectable.

새맞이    (76,000원)

 벚꽃 날리다    (58,000원)

월하정인    (68,000원)

2011 녹원삼    (120,000원)

According to a a lot of Korean bloggers the hand screened gold leafing on the extra fancy royal dolls is very easy to flake away!  Most recommended touching it as little as possible and keeping her in a display case.

나들이    (51,000원)

숙빈    (62,000원)

2012 활옷    (165,000원)

승무    (65,000원)

모시부인    (38,000원)

중전당의    (48,000원)

화완옹주    (54,000원)

황진이(플라워)    ( 53,000원)

의녀    (35,000원)

약혼복    (40,000원)

Youn-Ji does have a male doll you can purchase, however he seems to have always been sold as a set (for weddings and such) over the years and currently none are available on the official shop. I see lots of Korean bloggers with him though~ so perhaps his latest style can be found around the shops or used online.

On the Sonokong website you can buy a small assortment of extra accessories for your dolls like traditional miniature fans, hair pins, shoes, pottery and bedding! The mini fans are especially nice ♥ One really fun thing I found while searching around on Korean Naver blogs was that the girls that collect Youn-ji dolls often bought these amazing kits for making traditional Korean furniture to display with them!! You have to build them yourself, but the final result is really beautiful!

♥ One of the shops is HERE, super tempted to make a bitty dresser. ♥

Another MUST to display with Youn-Ji Dolls is miniature Korean food! Making miniatures seems to be a popular hobby here in Korea, I always see amazing little dishes~  if you are looking for something plastic and more cost effective a lot of bloggers used the “Korea Tour” collection from Re-ment (Japan) or the cheaper line of Korea food miniatures by Orcara (China).

The Re-ment collection is a bit harder to find, but the Orcara set can be found easily for just a few dollars on ebay!

Where to buy Youn-Ji Dolls 연지인형

*** In Korea (Offline) ***

Sadly I still have not located any real amazing doll stores here, if you know of any please let me know. She is a bit expensive, so I am not sure how often she could be spotted at the smaller toy shops around the neighborhood~ but I do plan on checking “Toy Alley” next time I am in Dongdaemun.  The only place I have spotted her being sold personally was Toys R us here in Seoul, they had about 4 styles at the time.  You can find a listing of all the Toys R us Korea locations by visiting HERE

*** Online ***

DollsKorea.com (Official shop)

This is the official site for Youn-ji + some of her accessories, however they do not say they take international orders and it does require you to sign up.  You may need to use a Korean shopping service (google, lots of people here offering this for a small % of the transaction) to place the order for you.

prettydoll.co.kr

After some hunting I managed to find them for sale on a Korean doll website called pretty doll (they sell lots of other awesome dolls too!). They WILL take international orders with paypal, although the site is a little bit confusing~  on the left purple menu look for the “연지” section and you can click about 5 different categories for her, they have a bunch.  On the top they have an “English Worldwide” customer button which translates the item titles, and to the right they have a button explaining that they will take international shipping with paypal only.  Since I have not placed an order I can not say what the entire process is, but if you do please share in the comments!  Its pretty rare to see a shop here offer to take overseas orders, let alone paypal.

ebay.com

We all know this site of course~ sometimes they will have one or two Youn-ji dolls for sale, but they are usually marked up a bit. If the seller is in Korea you can always try asking if they can get a certain one in stock that you want.

Do you like collecting dolls? What about Korean hanbok dolls?  Do you have any Youn-ji dolls? If you could have any for your collection, which dolls would you pick?!  Comment below!

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32 Responses to “Youn-Ji Dolls 연지인형~ Pretty Little Hanbok Beauties”

  • All of these dolls are so beautiful! They’re pretty amazing to look at.

    • Elle:

      I know, right?? Shameless eyecandy post haha after editing the photos this weekend I have been so tempted to get one now, I just love how detailed that hair is on some of them XD

  • Custom avatar Madam Mim:

    Oh man, they’re *stunning*. I’m not even a huge doll person, but I really really want one now. Gorgeous post.

  • Wow, this is a fantastic post! You can really see the passion and obsession they put into each doll. And every single one is handmade!? I agree with you, I think the cost for these dolls are not bad at all… Can you imagine what that kind of handmade detailed dolls would cost here in the US?

  • Custom avatar kholic:

    Thanks for sharing! I have been looking for this kind of doll that wear hanbok and finally I know it is called ‘Younji doll’. So beautiful! I find the doll – 벚꽃 날리다 super pretty.

    Would like to collect them!

  • Such gorgeous pictures! I like seeing all these traditional things, so it’s really nice to see such posts. I like so many hanbok… wouldn’t know which one to pick!

  • Custom avatar Bunny:

    Thank you so much for sharing these with us! I actually collect different dolls and this is such a treat to see. My husband saw me looking at this today and says “Bad blog!” when he saw them; he already knows our house is going to get filled up with this line. Hahaha! Poor man…

    I really enjoy the quality of these truly collectible figures. Their posability makes them attractive as well! I can’t wait to get some. I’m leaning toward the 승무 and 의녀-she reminds me of Lee Young Ae as Seo Jang Geum in Jewel in the Palace; I am most fond of this series <3.

    I'm a die hard collector so the fact that you have to build those little sets is epic to me too! Maybe, with my dad's help (he does wood crafts) I can create some sets of my own for OOAC displays! :D YAY! This is exciting. (All of your posts are exciting, but this one really got me happy!)

    • Elle:

      ah I am so happy to hear!!! Please oh please if you end up buying some let us know in the comments where you shopped with or how the exp was, I am sure others will float in that are curious as well! You have to send me photos if you make a setup or something, I would love to see *____* You are so lucky your dad does wood crafts, that is seriously such a handy skill to have in the family. If you check out the furniture site I linked for the mini traditional pieces, they have a few video tutorials and stuff for the kits they sell which are interesting~ what is nice is they come with the fake details so the final is really something. I love toys and dolls, so I have a few more lines from here to feature in the future ;) I had been meaning to do a post on Youn-ji for like 8 months tho, so I am so glad I remembered hehehe happy shopping!

  • Such eye candy to scroll through these doll pics! I love the multi-colored ones

  • Custom avatar dee:

    Hi Elle….I am a scrapbooker and I just wanted to know if u knew of any store out here in Korea I could maybe get stuff, card stock, decorative paper, emblishments ect. Korean oriented stuff and just other things I could get my hands on…. instead of always having to order from the US. Thanks in advance….I am doing this project life scrapbook thingy and I don’t want to just stick to the basic scrapbook and I am am trying not to go crazy ordering stuff…..because I am big on embellishing …. I know about Diaso but I am yet to visit one….or get one close enough to me where I feel comfy enought to venture out on my own….

  • I need these in my life! Definitely going to check out the website prettydoll.co right now. Thanks for the info!

  • Oh My these are so beautiful!
    To be honest most dolls creep me out a little but these are so well made.

    Do you know the difference between an normal hanbok and the ones that are gathered in layers? I’m curious about the meaning and uses of the different types.

    Steph

    • Elle:

      Hi Steph, I need to double check this, but I believe the skirt (the girl in the red dress right?) was gathered like that for comfort while doing activities back in the day. The sleeves of Japanese clothing also had a similar trick to tie them back when working using a ribbon of fabric so they did not dip into things or get in the way, so I assumed you could do that with the chima since it is a bit of a pain to wear! I read someplace that this maybe was also trend for a bit (tying a belt the waist so it puffed and bloomers could be seen) however judging by the hair, I believe that girl is depicting a 기생 gisaeng (aka Korea geisha,although they are not *exactly* the same) which are/were known for being a bit more fashion forward and I have often seen them depicted with the skirt tied up in art.. I assumed because they danced but maybe it was for style as well haha.

  • Can’t wait for a new blogpost! <3

  • Thanks so much for sharing! I went through a phase where I really wanted to make and collect dolls, so these really appeal to me! I want to buy one (or several) when I get to Korea!

  • 여의도에 ifc몰가보셨나여? 가보세요 멋있을것입니다 ㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋ영화관을 유럽풍경지하철로만들었네요 ㅋ

  • http://blog.naver.com/bbins2?Redirect=Log&logNo=80182434811 제블로그는아니지만 하번보세요 ㅋㅋ. Ifc물은 서울 여의도에 있어요.
    굉장히 멋있어요 그럼수고허세요 ^^

  • 아그리고 영화관 분위기가멋있습니다 작년2012년에 완성된 ifc몰이에요 한번구경하로가세요 ^^

  • The dolls somehow reminded me of the Korean horror movie The Dollmaster. IDK why but they scare me ;-; The hanboks look beautiful though. It’s amazing how these people can create miniature version of the clothes.

  • Custom avatar Tanya:

    Hi there, I have always been a fan of the asian cultures. I collect dolls, geishas, babies, celebrity dolls like Elizabeth Taylor and others. Now looking at these, I have to have one for my collection. I hope someone has recent news of purchasing one of these dolls. So that I can too buy one soon ;)

    • Elle:

      Glad you enjoy the post ;) if you read the bottom I provide a little info about where to look. It seems they have stopped making new ones this year though, so they can be harder to find off of korean sites

  • Custom avatar Brooke:

    Hi. I found your post after searching online for a korean hanbok doll that didn’t look like the cheap ones in insadong. Do you know which toysrus you were able to find one of these lovely dolls in? I would like to see one in person before I pick one. Thanks!

    • Elle:

      Hi Brooke! I have a feature article on toys r us here in korea, your best bet will be the one around lotte world I think, however it seems they may be discontinuing youn-ji dolls because they have been very scarce the last year or so~

  • Custom avatar Paula:

    Elle,
    Do you have Traditional Hanbok for 18 inch dolls…American Girl.
    I have jsut acquired an beautiful Asian beauty and want to dress her in a Hnabok when I give her to mydaughter.
    Thanks you so much,
    Paula

    • Elle:

      I dont sell these, but if you look online I have seen many sellers who make hanbok for american girl dolls. Perhaps try etsy.com abd ebay.com to start, I know they are around (unofficially) for sure :)

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My name is Elle and I am an Illustrator & Gallery painter from California, but currently I am living in Seoul with my Korean Fiancé!

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