Inspiration: Korean graphic design

July 7, 2014

by — Posted in Design

Design in Korea

Japan is known as a mecca for beautiful minimalist graphic design (except for their websites!) but I wasn’t so sure what to think before I came to Korea. After living here for nearly a year I can definitely say that Korean graphic design is a bit of a mixed bag. There is a lot of really awful design, but this is mainly due to all the small mom & pop shops which pop up everywhere. I have also noticed some really great, clean, vibrant design; from branding to packaging to in-store graphics. Over the last few months some really great little boutiques and cute organic ice cream stores have opened up in our city, and they all have really slick branding. I hope this trend continues!

Most of the designers I’m featuring below are based in Seoul. It was actually really difficult to find examples of Korean graphic design, so please let me know if you have any more recommendations – I’d love to see them. The images below range from typography and branding to cosmetic packaging. Korean design usually features both English and Korean (for various reasons!) The Korean alphabet is known as Hangul. I really like Hangul because it’s so easy to learn to read, and the letters are really simple and clean.

Korea is very different from New Zealand because there are so many brands competing for attention. The cities have very concentrated shopping areas so the brands have to be as loud and flashy as possible. This involves branding, bright lights, very loud club music and promoters at the entrance trying to entice people inside!

Korea downtown shopping korean graphic design gwangju
A small part of the downtown shopping area in Gwangju. Thanks to Rob for the photo!


Etude House Korean graphic design seoul
Etude House – Red Dot Design Award
Etude House Korean graphic design seoul
Etude House


Jae Min Lee Korean graphic design seoul

Jae Min Lee Korean graphic design seoul

Jae Min Lee Korean graphic design seoul
Jae Min Lee

Exhibition design:

Gwangju design bienalle 2013 Korean graphic design seoul

Gwangju design bienalle 2013 Korean graphic design seoul
Gwangju Design Bienalle 2013

Posters and typography:

corners studio korean graphic design seoul
Corners Studio
Art & Seoul korean graphic design seoul
Art & Seoul magazine
D Kim korean graphic design seoul
D Kim
san soo-ahn korean graphic design seoul
Sang Soo-Ahn

sulki min korean graphic design seoul

Sulki & Min Korean graphic design seoul
Sulki & Min

Workroom Korean graphic design seoul

korean graphic design seoul workroom


If you’re a designer currently living in Seoul, you may be struggling to find an English speaking printer. I just found out about – they can print anything and speak great English!

If you’re interested in how things are printed, you can see a behind-the-scenes tour of the massive offset printers here:

Pretty interesting for design geeks like me!


What do you think of these designs? Do you know any interesting Korean graphic design firms I should have a look at? 

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