사대주의 (Sadaejuui) in Korea: Part 3

1st Co-design Session

As I was doing research around Sadaejuui, I was curious about what others thought or knew about this subject. So my first session was in a survey-format but something more interactive. Instead of giving them a sheet with a format, I’ve asked them to draw or write their answers on the back of the consent forms.

1. What do you picture when you think of “sadaejuui”?

2. What do you picture when you think of “colonization”?

3. How do the two words feel compared to each other?

4. Look at this picture and put a blue dot on what you think is a “developing” country, a red dot on “developed” and a black dot when you’re not sure.

5. Do you think these recognitions would change after COVID is over? Why or how?

6. If “developed” and “developing” are switched, what kind of changes do you think will happen?

7. Now order these changes in the order of smallest to biggest.

8. How was the workshop? What is your feedback?

The insights I’ve gathered from this session was quite extensive, much more than I anticipated. The left circle above shows the words written to describe sadaejuui, and the left is for colonialism. In the left corner, I redrew the image that a participant drew (the speech bubble says “your majesty”). On the right corner, the flag drawn by one of the participants in the Japanese imperialist flag that holds a lot of scars for Koreans and other colonized countries.

In the left bubble, the words read: America, big country, cowardice, Pro-Japanese, opportunists, power, dictatorship, worship of strength, monopoly, big corporation, North Korea, internal issues, developed countries, diplomatic relationship, autonomy, overestimate, easily influenced by the media, authoritative, Asia, China, volunteer, soft power, parasital, idolize, vested rights, and majority culture.

In the right bubble, the words read: Japanese colonial era, free resources, Africa, rich countries, imperialism, native Americans, massacres, Napoleon, 13 states, forcefulness, natural resources, exploitation, Genghis Khan, civilization, external forces, independence movements, negative, conquest, WW2, motherland, slaves, history, facilitator, past term, hard power, weapons, physical labor, and Europe.

In the middle of the bubble, the words read: developed country, imperialism, obey. This diagram clearly indicates the difference between the two terms to Koreans:

  • Sadaejuui is an internalized complex that is seen as parasitic or cowardly
  • Colonialism is an externalized force that happened upon us that’s seen as greedy or violent.

As the imposer or the perpetrator, colonialism or decolonization are terms that are fitting in the context of the respective countries, but I decided that because Korea was a victim, sadaejuui is more fitting to dive into for this project.

The star post-its were the ideas that they have generated on what changes would happen if “developed” or “developing” are switched. They read: If North Korea becomes stronger, Korea will not become the bargaining chip, so we will lose leverage, countries will be more independent (no UN), although power would be better distributed there will be smaller tensions, more diversity and more acceptance, more voice for the humanitarian, more conflict because of vengeance (repetition of history), more erasure of history and the truth, new railroads from African to Europe, higher birthrate globally, more jobs in agriculture less jobs in energy or service, more preservation of the endangered species, more colonizing, English is not used in raps or songs anymore, democracy will be weakened, countries with higher intelligence will rise to power, self-education will be normalized, formerly developed countries will immigrate to another country, English won’t be the dominant language, North Korea’s nuclear experiments will put the world in fear, “the world’s first white president”, Mexico will regulate American visitors and immigrants, travel to Kazakhstan to earn money.

The feedback was:

  • Need clarity on why they would change.
  • Who are we to mold their history?
  • If it’s global, need to focus on language.
  • Technology is more important than politics.
  • If COVID changes the way we work, buildings won’t exist.

There were various opinions in this matter because some were positive that COVID will take us in the right direction and some were negative by thinking that those countries in power have gotten there over centuries of work. We all agreed that change will not be quick, but there were some great speculative thinking involved, which I was thrilled about.

2nd Co-design Session

When I was planning the second co-design workshop, I chose 8 topics for the participants, which were developing country, interdependence, birth, freedom_1 freedom_2, smartization, power, education, language. I asked them to pick a word written on small pieces of paper then I gave them the article that talks about the respective topic printed on the backside of the consent form, then I ask them to write a letter from the future on a smaller lined paper to give more of a personal touch.

Reflection: I went to my dad’s hospital to talk to his staff during lunch hour and the ladies had a good reaction but felt like they weren’t smart enough to write a letter from the future. They said it’ll take them some time to think about it and said they’ll pass along the letter to my dad when they’ve finished. The male staffs were unwilling to take action at all because the pressure of the daughter of the doctor asking them to do something was inevitably there. They did write a letter, but it was more like I hope our community will be this way, not fully imagining what the future scenario could look like. I thought going to their area might make them feel more comfortable, but it felt more like I was invading their space. They were informed by my dad that I was coming by, but I didn’t realize how much I didn’t consider the way of approaching them. Compared to the first session which was successful, I am realizing there isn’t much motivation for Koreans to have fun or learn with people they don’t have a relationship with. Even with giving them masks as a thank you, it feels like Koreans are much more resistant to any kind of interaction. As Ella told me, Design methods/tools and education are so frequently understood through a Northern hemisphere paradigm, but collaborative design practice is not commonly thought of in South Korea.

Image Source: my phone

Developing country: Due to the development of the machinery and AI, the phenomenon of substitution of labor power is intensified and the quality of life is given priority over the issue of labor welfare.

Interdependence: After liberation, the sacrifice of the minority for the benefit of the group has been taken for granted. Sacrifice or coercion for political reasons will start to cease after current events like the candlelight assembly or COVID. There will be individualism that is of different nature than Western individualism. This will be a unique idea of ​​Korea combining nationalism and individualism.

Birth: There will be a population shortage to dissipate 80 local cities. We will raise the child by putting sperm eggs into the machine, not the female body. Government support is needed for the direction of the population cliff.

Freedom: With the development of personal information, social media, etc., the press will be freer, but the government will monopolize the press with big data, so what we need to know will not be reported, but only those that are not needed will be published.

Smartization: With the development of Ai technology and smartization technology, the increase in carbon dioxide on the other side of convenience will increase, and the risk of deteriorating the global environment will also increase.

Power: We will echo the model of the welfare state based on nationalism. There is also the possibility of becoming a socialist country due to the increased exposure to privacy. It is necessary to establish an institutional foundation and implement harmonious policies between countries and individuals.

Education: Homeschooling and online lectures will become common, and AI technology based on big data will be able to tailor learning to individual abilities and aptitudes. The role of the teacher is to help students understand their strengths, interests, values, and learn how to study on their own and develop creative thinking rather than transfer knowledge.

Language: If the population of each country is small, it will not be easy to specify a common language. The country that was dominated by England and France cannot suddenly change now.

Insights: The points written above were summaries or key points from the letters using their own words. Although the session itself wasn’t smoothly conducted, the letters were surprisingly insightful. It also shows how my instructions felt more like a task to them because their answers were quite academic or static compared to the previous session which I conducted with my friends and family. If the first session was helpful in expanding on what sadaejuui meant to the public, the second session was helpful in specifying what the future scenarios could look like. Both of these two sessions were crucial in building the third session.

3rd Co-design Session


I first started off by reading the first paragraph to introduce this world:

“The world of imagination you have now is Korea, where we have gained independence from Japan by our own power without the aid of the United States. Korean culture is becoming a globally leading trend, and since Corona, Korean history has been studied in Europe and North America as an advanced country. Improved and modernized hanbok has become common, and eco-friendly architectural methods from Korea have been applied overseas. Thanks to K-pop and K-Drama’s promotional effects, Jeju Island and Busan have become international vacation destinations. As a citizen of a country that is equally respected by foreign cultures, I hope that you will take pride while participating in this game!”

Then I asked them to participate in Step 1: Character development by choosing a character and writing their virtual daily schedules according to their profession. I gave them an example that reads:

7AM: Wake up, eat 수정과 (cinamon drink) and pumpkin porridge for breakfast and go to work.

2PM: The company let me finish work early as a form of parental leave to rest at home with my husband who is working from home to check the artificial pregnancy machine provided by the country to increase the fertility rate.

5PM: While my husband is working in the afternoon, it’s my turn to look at the pregnancy machine, so I sit next to the machine watching a new drama on my VR/AR device.

7PM: Before having dinner delivered by a drone, because Korean food is expensive, we order cheap pasta and foie gras according to the husband’s opinion to save money.

10PM: Thanks to Korea’s best medical insurance, I got a tooth treatment yesterday for free. So I take a pill of medicine before going to bed.

After reading this example, the participants finished their versions, then we moved on to the Stage 2: Collective Cultural Celebration where I provided an article that I designed that reads “Princess Haemyong Selected as an Ambassador for Hongbit as They Launch Free Online Hangul Coding Classes”. This article shows a photograph of her in the photoshoot for the advertisement for the launch. As all the code is in English, I think it will be a big turning point if we create another coding language that can be done with Hangul. I’ve also created mini headlines on the right corner to show the political climate during this time: Trump invests in green energy following Korea, SRT train rails will stretch to Haulbin (China), Vietnam comfort women asks president Moon Jae In to apologize, Samsung galaxy sold out in Germany, twelve Denmark illegal laborers found dead in a container shipment at Mokpo harbor, Han Hyun Min designer apologizes for Polish cultural appropriation, AIDS runs rampant in the US due to lack of healthcare, Dubai art collector buys Kim Hong Do’s “Wrestle” which is known to have inspired Van Gogh.

For Stage 3: Inclusive Perspective Outcomes, I found a virtual Hollywood movie poster starring Korean American actor, which I edited onto the futuristic bus stop. I’ve asked how this picture would inspire them to take action. The feedback post-its weren’t as full as I expected for this part, because they were feeling restricted by their occupation. If they could write the response, they said that they could think of more ideas, but for their characters, it was too hard for them to imagine what they would think. I wanted to place the post-its in the next diagram, but I decided that I will skip that part because we have gone over time.

There were good ideas that came out from the session, such as pills for meals, hoverboards for going to school, sanitizing spray installed on every door, and more. I’ve also realized it’s hard to just focus on celebrating our culture if we talk about unification because it is a cliche subject when it comes to future scenarios and economic growth. However, it’s a cliche because it’s such a crucial point for our future. Blacklivesmatter, imperialism, decolonization, and sadaejuui are all interconnected. Comparison of the time that it has existed, American apartheid is only a few hundred years, where are eurocentrism is a few thousand years old. Sadaejuui is about 5000 years old, as it is assumed that it has existed from the beginning of our country. It is such a big part of our nature and history that it’s hard to extract it. We have always been under an economically strong country, first, it was China, now it is the US. The only way for us to have true autonomy and independence is when we can become economically stronger, which is why China is trying so hard to control their resources and citizens. However, for South Korea, a country that has never colonized another country, to stand side by side with the economically strong countries is by unification. It has been predicted by economists that Korea’s 11th or 12th GPD ranking will be bumped up to 4th or 5th next to Germany and UK who have been dominant for a long time. Simon Kuznets developed GDP as the ultimate measure of a country’s overall welfare. Modern economies have lost sight of the negative effects of economic growth on society, such as climate change and income inequality. “Yet policymakers and economists often treat GDP [..] as an all-encompassing unit to signify a nation’s development, combining its economic prosperity and societal well-being. As a result, policies that result in economic growth are seen to be beneficial for society.” This brings in the question, is competition inevitable? I personally believe that economical standards will exist as long as capitalism exists.



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