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

Image captions:
1. Poster designed by Sunny Studio for Shin Ji-ye, 2018 Seoul mayor candidate and representative of the Green Party.
2. Park Ji-sung (left) and Park Chulhee (right) of Sunny Studio.
3. Drag workshop for a local queer parade. Credit: Lee Kanghyuk.

Interview details
Narrators: PARK Ji-sung and PARK Chulhee
Interviewer: Zara Arshad
Interpreter: SUNG Dasom
Date: Monday 12 August 2019
Location: The designers’ studio in Seoul, South Korea
Length: approx. 1 hour, 18 minutes

Ji-sung and Chulhee started Sunny Studio in 2015 [...] when Ji-sung was planning to build his own graphic design studio [...] Chulhee was working as a university teaching assistant, but he also wanted to run a queer bookstore. Chulhee asked Ji-sung if the design studio and the bookstore could be run together, and so this is how their practice was formed. The studio was named after the bookshop: Sunny Bookshop and Sunny Studio.


Chulhee wanted to open an LGBTQ-focused bookstore after he saw the LGBTQ corner at Printed Matter (bookstore). He wanted to see more of this kind of material - magazines and books - but it was really hard to find in Korea. So he decided to open his own bookshop. At the same time, another design studio called WORKS opened a shop space, which became a platform through which they shared their work, and so Chulhee thought it would be nice to run a shop and design studio together. Sunny Studio ran their bookshop until 2018, but since moving from their space in Itaewon, the bookshop is now managed by Chulhee’s partner in a new location in Euljiro.


Sunny Studio once organised a small drag workshop for the queer parade [...] they gathered some people to learn about dress and make-up, and then participants attended the queer parade with the outfit from the workshop.


Some friends recommended Sunny Studio to the Green Party. But the Green Party also came to know that Sunny Studio had previously completed work about human rights issues - posters and campaign artwork - so they approached Sunny Studio for their 2018 campaign [...] Sunny Studio was supportive of the Green Party’s policies, so they were happy to participate in their campaign as art directors for the posters. They formed a team with a stylist and make-up artist, and created the poster together with this team.


Sunny Studio mostly focused on designing the poster. The poster consists of a simple portrait of the Green Party candidate and some lettering [...] the designers wanted to infuse some meaning into the lettering: inspired by the White Ribbon Campaign, they used a white ribbon effect for the Korean characters [...] for the design of the namecard and placard, the slogan was very long at first [...] it needed to attract more people’s attention, so Sunny Studio decided to use emojis between the words of the slogan. In Korea political campaigns are quite conservative, so using emojis was a way to ensure that more people would pay attention [...] Additionally, the colour green was uh used because it represents the Green Party - it’s the party’s main colour. And purple was, they used purple because [...] Sunny Studio thought it was a symbol of feminism. However, the Green Party did not want to use purple, so this was not included in the main poster in the end.


The general response to the poster was very good, but there were some serious attacks on it too.* Chulhee was really surprised by comments about the candidate’s eyes - for example, a lawyer posted on his Facebook that the candidate’s eyes are extremely impudent. This was a really surprising reaction for Chulhee - he wondered about the lawyer’s own attitude towards women. Ji-sung, meanwhile, says that he expected these kinds of extreme reactions while he was designing the poster because of the Green Party’s slogan. The slogan was uh apparently presenting the feminist candidate, so any photos that encourage or embody that kind of slogan would cause some negative responses. But, at the same time, he was surprised about the extreme views of the lawyer [...] later, he thought that the message of the Green Party is very significant to contemporary Korean society because if there were no women’s issues in Korea, then people would readily accept a feminist candidate.

* ‘Some 27 of Shin’s posters and banners across the city were intentionally damaged, mutilated or stolen. Some had her eyes gouged out in the poster, or burned with cigarette butts’. Continue reading via April Magazine.

(b. 1987, Gunsan) Park Ji-sung is a graphic designer and co-founder of Sunny Studio. Prior to establishing his own practice, Park Ji-sung worked for studio fnt and WORKS. He obtained his undergraduate degree in graphic design from Kookmin University.

(b. 1988, Gwangju) Park Chulhee is also a graphic designer and co-founder of Sunny Studio. He has worked as a teaching assistant at Kookmin University and as an intern at Hong Design. Park Chulhee completed his undergraduate degree in graphic design at Kookmin University.

Sunny Studio