North to South

North to South

Master's Thesis Component 2013 – Exhibition



Researcher / Graphic Designer / Exhibition Designer


Not much is known about North Korea, and many misconceptions arise from the media. Emphasis is skewed toward nuclear arms, dictatorship, and communism. The story of the average North Korean is rarely heard of.

North Koreans who successfully escape North Korea are automatically given refugee status by the UN. Escapees face many obstacles during their journey, and most relocate to South Korea where the people seem similar but are vastly different. 60 years of separation have changed the two countries' cultures and a recently relocated North Korean faces immense challenges adjusting to a capitalist country.

This exhibition sought to tell their story and encourage viewers to see the situation from two perspectives –– north and south.


The differences between North Korea and South Korea are not understood.

On multiple occasions I've been asked, "Are you from North or South?" It is natural to assume that North Koreans have the same rights as citizens of most countries, such as the ability to leave their country at will. Unfortunately, this is not the case.


When North Koreans choose to leave their country, they are embarking on a life-changing journey.

The risks associated with being caught include imprisonment, torture, and persecution. However, those risks describe the route of escape-- many risks await North Koreans in whatever country they escape to.

How to communicate the culture they are leaving, and the culture they are entering? How to communicate the risks without making the exhibition a plea for sympathy?


Understand the sequence.

Iterations started from highly technical diagrams resembling service blueprints. They evolved to convey "travel" and give a distinct hierarchy of information. Another iteration tried removing itself from a rigid grid structure altogether and show the chaotic

The rough iterations eventually led to a tryptic layout that contrasted North Korean and South Korean principles, thoughts, and ideology, with the dangerous journey between the two halves. 

Tryptic in full. Click to expand.


If you appreciated this, check out Hanguru, another component of my Social Design Master's Thesis:

If you're interested in the stories of North Koreans in concentration camps check out Humans