From electronics to automobiles, South Korea is currently one of the world’s leading industrial nations, producing a vast amount of consumer goods. Korea Power: Design & Identity – edited by Klaus Klemp, Hehn-Chu Ahn, Matthias Wagner K and published by Gestalten – is the first comprehensive collection of contemporary Korean products and graphic design.

South Korea’s swift rise to an economic superpower largely submerged much of the country’s traditional culture. Recently, however, the lifestyle values of bygone eras are again rising to the surface and becoming more influential in the world of design. Korean designers are working on the cutting edge of contemporary design while also embracing cultural traditions, creating a distinctly Korean elegance. Korea Power explores this new culture of contemporary design, which is balanced between tradition and the future.

The book demonstrates how contemporary Korean designers are developing a new sensibility for the traditional definition of beauty expressed in their culture, which is represented by work from, for instance, the Culture Keepers. Their furniture and table settings designs are created to meet both practical requirements of modern lives, while also being inspired by the aesthetics of the past.

Korean Power features a selection of images by the legendary Korean advertising photographer Kim Han-Yong shot in the years of reconstruction following the Korean War, as well as images shot in Seoul and Pyongyang by the German architecture photographer Dieter Leistner that strikingly capture the divided land of today.

The official catalogue for the exhibition Korea Power. Design and Identity at Frankfurt’s Museum Angewandte Kunst, curated by Professor Dr Klaus Klemp and Hehn-Chu Ahn, Korea Power offers the work of artists and designers across the country, expressing the beautiful complexity of the ‘Korean identity’, which has been formed as the country has become a modern state in the aftermath of the fall of the Josean Dynasty, its occupation by the Japanese and the Korean War.

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