Graphic design in
contemporary Korea:
an oral history project
by Zara Arshad
An incomplete,

Image captions:
1. Korea, Woman, Graphic Designer 11 (2016). Credit: 김진솔.
2. Photo of Lynn Kim at the Woowho event (2017). Credit: 김진솔.
3. Sync-Bookshelf identity and exhibition design (2018). Credit: 모 스튜디오.

Interview details
Narrator: Lynn Kim
Interviewer: Zara Arshad
Interpreter: SUNG Dasom
Date: Friday 4 October 2019
Location: Dongyang Mirae University, Seoul, South Korea
Length: approx. 52 minutes

The starting point of my graphic design study was influenced by a trip to London in 2002. Following this trip, I ended up changing my major from computer science to graphic design, so the city of London was very influential in terms of my thoughts and understanding of design. I was particularly interested in the everyday, gender, geography and city [...] how graphic design has a role in city environments. I was interested in those kind of themes from then to still now. And so the reason why I chose London to study abroad later was very natural for me.


The starting of the group Woo was 2016, November 27 and it is archived in website You can see the whole process - how the group was made and what the group has done - here.

Before that group was made, 2016, from February to November, I have worked on a book named Korea, Woman, Graphic Designer 11 with Lee Jaeyoung graphic designer. And on the same year, on October, when we were almost done with [...] the book-making process, there was a big issue in Korea* [...] and the eleven team who were interviewed in the Korea, Woman, Graphic Designer 11 book was very sad about those women who are needing to raise their voice [against sexual harassment and violence] via SNS [social media]. So, we had a meeting before the book was published and we decided to make a group, which we called Woo.**

And I want to mention another factor influenced to make the group Woo. During the same year, on October 23 [...] I wrote an online manifesto called ‘ASK’ with two other women graphic designers, Kim Somi and Lee Hyunsong. And this was a kind of starting point [...] because of that manifesto, many graphic designers and students replied and put their names on that manifesto together.***

After this manifesto, the eleven group of these Korea, Woman, Graphic Designer 11 book, they gathered together and they say: ‘Lynn should be the representative of our group’. So that’s why I became a leader of Woo. And that group was until 2017, December 28 - almost a year. We have done ‘The W Show: A List of Graphic Designers’ exhibition, that was the last thing we have done. And on the date of book release talk, ‘The W Show’ exhibition book, we had a talk and there was a programme that announced the end of the group Woo.


In between, there was a programme called ‘Woowho: Women Talk Graphic Design’ [...] a kind of lecture or seminar programme, and all the presenters are women graphic designers. And there was women graphic designers’s networking party on the same day, so it was kind of a celebration [...] listening to the voices of women graphic designers - how they do their practice and how they survive in Korean society. That was a big event in the middle of 2017. And that programme has recorded in a book called Woowho published by 6699press.


The project ‘Sync-Bookshelf’ started from the group Woo, and it was part of a programme that we called ‘Woo Bookclub’. It was directed by a design studio called WORKS and they planned the bookshelf [...] feminism and design-related books were selected for this bookshelf. And that programme was held for only four days in Hannam-dong, Seoul [...] we made it happen again for ‘The W Show’, but this was also just for one month. So after that show, the bookshelf was not shown anywhere else. After six months, I made a new project, which name is ‘Sync-Bookshelf’, but the difference was that this bookshelf was going to different places with the wheel on the bottom of the bookshelf. Average two or three month the bookshelf is exhibited in specific university or design studio or design company or design/art related exhibition gallery [...] and while the bookshelf is located in a specific place, that bookshelf is synchronising the thought about feminism and design in between the members of that space. That’s the original idea of this project. And how to synchronise is making a workshop with the members of that space [...] participants discuss issues around feminism and design, or other social matters, and then according to these conversations I recommend some publications from the bookshelf according to their needs.

Notes: * This is in reference to a series of hashtag movements that emerged in South Korea from 2016 onwards regarding sexual harassment and women’s rights. A summary of these activities can be found here (in Korean).
** Comprising of a network of women designers, this group was created to discuss and debate sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination experienced by women designers in the workplace, as well as to help shape policies to protect women professionals working in the arts. *** This manifesto was written in response to allegations of sexual harassment made by women designers against a chief curator based at the Ilmin Museum of Art. More on this here.

(b. 1982, Seoul) Lynn Kim is a graphic designer, and a professor based at the Department of Visual Communication Design, Dongyang Mirae University. She completed her undergraduate degree in graphic design at Ewha Womans University, and obtained her master’s from University of the Arts London. Lynn Kim is currently a PhD candidate at Ewha Womans University. Her thesis is titled: ‘Korean Feminist Design Study and Practice Analysis: 1980-2018’.

Seoul Grandmother