The silhouette of a woman, who is wearing Korean traditional dress Hanbok, is depicted, overwrapped with major tourist spots in Seoul, Korea. The woman is holding a ribbon on her clothes gently and the message below the picture reads, “Unforgettable Experience in Seoul.”
It was the draft of the tourism promotional poster for Seoul, which was to be 1,000 digital screens and 150 bus stops in New York, including Time Square.
“The promotional poster, which depicts the charm of Seoul, will captivate the hearts of 60 million New York residents,” said Seoul Metropolitan Government on December 1, revealing the poster design.
“We’ve chosen the design as hanbok fitting experience is rising popular among foreign tourists,” they added.
However, people criticized the design’s message, which can be misinterpreted as a promotion for sexual commoditization. People on Twitter pointed out that the silhouette, which emphasizes feminine quality, in addition to the written message, makes one to associate the message to sex tourism.
On December 3, the city government announced that they’re replacing the controversial design, saying, “We will replace the debatable design with another one using places like Gwanghwamun Square and DDP as motives.”
The controversial promotional poster design has turned out to be processed without careful deliberation.
“Due to tight schedules, we failed to give a specified design guideline to the design agency,” said a city official.
“The image of women is limited to that of the traditional conception,” an anonymous women policy specialist pointed out. “Portraying Seoul’s image as such is problematic.”
People also commented, “It gives an impression that the woman in the poster can untie the ribbon any second,” or, “I think it’s the written message, not the image, that is misleading.”
On the contrary, some argue that taking the poster as a sex tourism promotion is an excessive interpretation. An advertising executive said, “The poster merely seeks the harmony of tradition and modernity.”
“It is hard to make creative and diverse ads when sensitive standards are applied,” he added.
Seoul Metropolitan Government explained that the Seoul tourism promotion in New York is a part of corporative city marketing between Seoul and New York. In exchange for Seoul’s city promotion in New York from December 18 to January 14, 2018, New York’s posters which promote “Famous, Original, New York City,” will be placed across Seoul’s capital city.
Original article by Lim Seon-young