사대주의 (Sadaejuui) in Korea: Part 4

Rebecca Ghim
6 min readSep 16, 2020


After finishing up the co-design session, I was struggling to grasp the idea of what an “artifact” is. I kept thinking it had to be an installation of an art piece because I made the distinction of “functional” and “non-functional” with design and art. I realize that this binary conception has made a huge limitation for me. I could go on and on about this trail, but to be concise, Ella and Tara’s tutorials and exercises have helped a lot. I forced myself into what I want my artifact to feel like during this lecture, which was surprisingly very nationalistic. These are the insights I had afterward:

  • I wanted to portray taking charge of our own history. Autonomy should be taught, not obedience.
  • I was teaching a 1st-grade student English during this time, and she was envious of my study abroad experiences, especially of the US. It shows how desirable the “western” education or experiences are in Korea.
  • I cannot push other countries to get rid of “sadaejuui” as I feel like it’s not my place to impose those options to them, but as a Korean national, I am responsible for or entitled to how our country views power hierarchy.
  • Idea 1: A school event to raise autonomy as a citizen rather than being taught English is the most important skill to have and that we have to follow the lead of the US. This event can be a campaign to raise support for policy change in the educational sector on learning more about cultural heritage and less about European and American culture. Encourage kids to eat locally and traditionally and consume national media.
  • Idea 2: “관종(gwan-jong)” is a derogatory term to describe out-spoken attention-seeking individuals and I want to use that word to promote active thinking and behavior, instead of being afraid of being a “민폐(min-pae)”, which is a term to describe causing harm to others. There’s a difference between causing harm and being out-spoken when often in Korean culture the two are seen as a synonym. Uniqueness and pride in themselves are generally looked down upon when those are the elements that our country lacks it the most. A campaign or a festival to encourage people to have more pride in themselves and their identity as Koreans would be encouraging.
  • Idea 3: A family album from the future which had a different past than reality. In this future, we would be in year 2050, where our country has more independence of our military and better preservation of our heritage. We wouldn’t have achieved liberation from Japan’s colonization by the US’s interference but because of internal activism. This means the Korean War wouldn’t have occurred, which would mean that the North and South would still be intact. With a united Korea, our economy would be stronger and our resources would be abundant.

By discussing with my course tutor Ella Britton, I’ve come to a decision that the third idea is the most exciting to me. It was more suitable for the project’s brief as well.


Building on to the details that the third co-design session has provided, I researched more into current hanbok to get inspiration on how our lives would look like.


These images are from both well known designers, such as Carolina Herrera and Lee Sang-bong, and smaller brands in Korea. Because fashion is what’s mostly shown in photographs, I thought it was important to get it right for my photo album. As my friend Jun has said in the previous chat in page 2, I agree that we wouldn’t have accepted Western culture in its entirety. As most of the world have accepted modern clothing, I’ve cordinated a mixture of hanbok and modern clothing.

Art Direction

For these shots, I’ve found cafes and houses around my city that had the traditional architecture, called Hanok. These buildings are characterized by the roof made 기왓장(Giwatjang) which is the clay plates, wood structures, clay walls, doors with 한지 (traditional paper) and wooden frames. Often these houses are surrounded by stone and clay fences and apple, tangerine, persimmon, fig, plum, date, or apricot trees. Depending on the region and its conditions, each city grows their own fruit tree, which is persimmon in my region.

The outfit my brother is wearing consists of the white hoodie, 저고리 (jeogori), hanbok-like fitted shorts. I’ve also given him a sack of bag as a prop to show different ways to utilize a traditional carrying method. I purposely told him to hold his phone and wear his glasses to bring in contemporary signifiers. I asked him to pose with the S-board I’ve brought as a prop to act as if it was a hover-board, which I took from the 3rd co-design session.

I’ve taken pictures of my dad in three different outfits, the one with the 두루마기 (durumagi), which is the coat-like outerwear, the one with the contemporary blue shirt and hanbok pants, and the one with 메리아스 (meriasseo), which is the white undershirt. This white undershirt holds a significance in Korean families because it’s casually worn by fathers around the house because of its comfort and breathability. I asked him to take off his shirt for this shot and lie on the bamboo pillow I brought as a prop to signify the sense of comfort and richness of Chuseok. Because Chuseok is a harvest holiday, it’s always during fall and with a lot of food and family around.

My mom also had three outfits, which were the pink 저고리 (jeogori), the blue (조끼), and her regular black t-shirt. I’ve asked her to pose in front of the mirror that I’ve propped up on the table to create a vanity-like set. I’ve also asked her to sit under the persimmon tree in the cafe that I’ve chosen, but I couldn’t frame the persimmons because the tree was too high. I’ve also asked her to sit under the Korean artist’s artwork with the book that shows the traditional bookbinding spine, but the lighting at the top was too strong to show the art piece.

This process took two days of visiting these chosen locations after research. Although it was a hot few days, it was a lot of fun to go around the city with my family and visiting these locations that we’ve never been to before.