Signboards, flyers, banners, advertisements. These kinds of designs are what make image and scenary of Seoul, South Korea. Professor Peter Winston Ferretto, who have lived and taught in South Korea describes the image of Seoul as a tattoo on a face. I also agree with that. Furthermore I defined that the reason is rooted in the history of Korea.
Korea have been suffered two big events. One is Japanese colonial period, and the other is the Korean War. During those two happenings, the heritage of Korea was totally cut. In the period of being colonized, Japanese forced Korean to use honorifics even between one year gap. That habit mentally formed virtical classification between people, and hierarchy became an important notion in Korean language and the notion made an empty formalities and vanity nowadays.
Furthermore the modernization from the America was comming in to Korea half forcedly, so the country which had been devastated in the war absorbed the Western culture without any filter. They just took the surface of the Western culture without any understanding of the context. That led to the situation of losing our originality. During the modernization, Korea grew up fast in terms of economy but they rarely have looked back to their old heritages. South Korean people’s matters of concern have been survival, and making money.
Naturally design field have obeyed by the economic principle. That means the design like a signboard, campaign and an advertisement became big, loud, and aggressive. The message of commercial design has always been provocative. In the past, visually neat style was common. After Adobe Photoshop was adopted in the country, even the looks of signboards and flyers became colorful and chaotic.
There are many kinds of media to convey a message in South Korea. The most remarkable feature of Korean design is printing. They print everywhere. They print onto a towel, a mirror, a watch, etc. The messages are declaring, shameless, straightforward.
Nowadays you can see bunch of mysterious design on the street in South Korea. Even 75years have been passed after South Korea regained independence, the dignity of design hasn’t been improved well. However, I realized that the condition of not being dignity, keeping loud, aggressive, colorful, chaotic can be a new character of Korean design. I don’t want to define Korean design, and it is too early to be, but I rather want to irrigate my design field from the current phenomenon.
The concept of these works are to play with current Korean design and interprete to new esthetics. The images I am collecting are commonly considered as just an ugly thing or things to be improved among many of Korean including me. I interpreted two of Korean things into my design works.