Pratt BFA Communications Design Thesis

Jong Hyen Han Graphic Design

I AM KIMCHI in starbucks

Editorial design
Publication Design
Social media

Starbucks first opened in South Korea in , and now there are more Starbucks in Seoul than in New York. They generated $470 million in sales, surpassing Cafe Bene, their biggest coffee market in Korea. The market size reached $850 million last year, and Starbucks grows more than 20 percent each year, increasing its direct management store to more than 120 stores(Yonhap). Therefore, the growth of Starbucks brings down small local coffee shops. They preempt the optimum place to sell coffee and promote themselves with their capital(Shin). In Korea, Starbucks symbolizes luxury, privilege, and posh. There is a traditional food ingredient called “doenjang” in Korea, but a word also used to refer to people who like to buy extravagant items and like money. In the past, the word “doenjang” used to be expressed in extravagant terms, but now it is being eliminated because such luxury expresses its status. “Doenjang” men or “doenjang” women are always holding Starbucks cups and expensive designer bags (Lee). There are so many memes and elements that satirize these people. For example, ‘Gangnam Style,’ which was a worldwide hit, may seem like an exciting song on the outside, but it is actually a satirical song about Korea’s luxurious area of ‘Gangnam’.

The price of coffee at Starbucks is not cheap. Starbucks’ basic tall americano costs more than $4 in Korea. Compared to other coffee shops, it’s more expensive. People stay away from small local coffee shops that offer better quality and cheaper coffee and just visit Starbucks because they want coffee that looks expensive(Shin). In addition, some people drink Starbucks coffee by skipping their meals. Most people visit Starbucks imagining their image of drinking coffee in a luxurious and special place because Koreans tend to want to look like rich people whoever they really are(Shin). Therefore, Starbucks dominates the Korean coffee market more than any other coffee shop because more and more people want this feeling. People will criticize if Starbucks raises prices for profit, but they will still drink it. They also buy merchandise to boast on social media. In Korea, social media has great promotional effects, so even if the brand itself does not promote it, people tend to promote each other.

The goal of the project is to decolonize some Koreans who are getting used to Western capitalism. Based on this, I will make a book that satirizes Koreans. Originally, it should be made in Korean, but only in English to help understand in the institute. The book’s intention is to make its title very provocative and make Koreans feel bad about it, but when they look at the contents of the book, they are reminded that they are criticized for their own actions and thought. The content in the book will explain how to become a bluffing(extravagant) Korean in Starbucks, and will gradually increase the intensity of criticism each step.