Nam Center for Korean Studies

Mission Statement

The Nam Center for Korean Studies at the University of Michigan International Institute encourages social, political, cultural, and economic understanding of Korea in the U-M community and beyond. Through its student and faculty support and ambitious public programming, the center seeks to increase the depth and breadth of resources devoted to Korean studies.

Chuseok Day Party

The annual Chuseok Day Party is a way for people of all ages to get plugged into Korean culture. Free food, performances, and activities are made available to everyone in the surrounding area, ranging from elementary school children to adults.

Nam Center Colloquium Series

Scholars and figures in Korean culture are invited to speak at the Colloquium series each term. A refreshed visual identity was required to reflect the rapid growth and changes in the Nam Center.

Korean cinema NOW

The Nam Center sponsors the Korean Cinema NOW film series every year, providing free admission to popular Korean films in the Michigan Theater. Winter of 2020 was an especially exciting time for Korean cinema, as Parasite by director Bong Joon-ho won the first Academy Award for Best Picture featuring a non-english language. There was a lot of celebration within the Nam Center, and we actually sponsored a second free screening after the four Oscars were handed out.

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to promote Korean cinema during such an eventful time and the process of developing the poster was something that took me out of my element. I knew there would be a wide audience, and I knew there was a lot of interest, so I had to develop a poster that would be eye-catching and gather the right crowds. I started by playing with the idea of a film strip.

The film was designed in Illustrator, the singular units are just a high-res png.

I didn’t want to get stuck in Illustrator, because I had the theory that Blender, or any 3D software for that matter, could render Illustrator obsolete. Just a forewarning: THIS WAS NOT THE CASE, but it was worth believing for the duration of ideation process.

I gave the black areas a red subsurf as a subtle touch to make it look more like film.

The edge Blender has over any other graphics editing software is its ability to render depth of field and cool lighting effects. I experimented with projecting the film over a blank surface and seeing how the shadows interacted with the text.

I set the text as the subject and the header in the foreground. Legibility played a large role in how I composed the scene.

The major disadvantage to using 3D software is that it’s not as accessible. I pride myself in choosing free and open source projects but there are hard limits to what I can accomplish.

Blender renders scenes using a raytracing engine, meaning it simulates individual rays of light and how they interact via bouncing and diffusing.

The viewport was in a permanent haze and my laptop was melting a hole through the desk by this time. The fear of my laptop just calling it quits and breaking on me was looming, since it was already 8 years old and probably not designed for tasks like this.

Nevertheless, I made the responsible choice and kept going, my laptop’s age was not going to undermine my job as a graphic designer.

Color, high gloss, and other wacky effects were tested and ultimately scrapped. Visualizing the movie posters composited on top of my own poster made me realize I’m taking a backseat role this time. My job was to bring information to the masses, not to produce a work of art that rivals the features themselves. The film strip became a background element to give the poster some depth and texture, and the movies I promoted would be getting the spotlight.

KPop Party

We like to stay active, which is why we put on new events and try out different activities throughout the year. In 2020 we organized the first annual KPop Party for middle school and high school students in order to get them excited about Korean culture.

It was our way to break out of winter and to warm everyone’s spirits, the KPop Party is like the Spring edition of the Chuseok Day Party. We were hoping for wide attendance from the surrounding area and lots of energy. Bright colors, youthful identity, and motion were important in achieving the perfect look.


I love kinetic type and any excuse to experiment with it was a welcome excuse. I started off by creating a stretched type logo to suggest motion and activity, since the event was primarily promoted through print media.

Early drafts made use of a question mark motif, greatly drawing attention to the main event which was the trivia and translation competition. I made some custom type for it but quickly realized that they had severe legibility issues and in all honesty were a bit gimmicky. I started looking into KPop media and studied the type, which consisted of bold faces and solid, blocky figures. That’s when I transitioned to simply laying the name out in a nicely typeset manner seen above.

Our event posters needed to signify a difference in the two events we were hosting, while remaining identifiable as part of the same series.

To promote this event, we created posters to distribute to the community. Since motion was not an option in print, we decided upon something equally eyecatching while still retaining the same identity. I took photos of clouds and recolored them with day and night motifs separating the KPop trivia contest and the KPop translation competition.

Unfortunately the event was cancelled due to COVID-19, leaving us with a ton of cool posters but nowhere to send them. The saving grace was that we will always have the graphics, ready to use whenever normal life resumed and we could start hosting gatherings again. They’ll see the light of day soon.