At first glance, advertisement in South Korea is no different from what can be seen in many other countries. At the same time, the country’s political, economic and social history has shaped how goods and services are promoted, and what is seen as the right way to do so.
To learn more about South Korean advertising, its unique features and its industry, we met with Professor Olga Fedorenko. We talked about the history of South Korean advertising, its relation to democracy, why it has been described in South Korea as the “flower of capitalism,” and how advertisement was and is an arena where social norms are renegotiated.
Olga Fedorenko is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Seoul National University. She obtained her Bachelor in Korean studies from the Institute of Asian & African Studies at Moscow State University and holds an MBA from Yonsei University. She completed her PhD in East Asian Studies at the University of Toronto. She has published various articles and chapters on advertising in South Korea and is currently working on a book manuscript: Flower of Capitalism – South Korea Advertising at Crossroads.
In 1975 […] journalists of a newspaper called Dong-A Ilbo signed [a] declaration opposing media censorship and in response […] Park’s government put pressure on the newspaper’s advertisers to withdraw their ads […] Many in Korea noticed the situation and people started sending encouragement advertisements to the newspaper, […] basically saying that they support democracy, freedom of the press, critical journalism, things like that. Since that incident, advertising suddenly became a [very unexpected] medium for promoting democracy.
The interview was recorded on March 24th in Seoul.