School of Communication and the Arts


Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design (MFA)


Diane Xu


Korea, Cultural Presentation, Misrepresentation, Illustration, Visual Media


Art and Design | Graphic Design | Illustration


As educators and creators seek to introduce students to cultures from around the world to increase cultural awareness, visual media has also become a powerful tool to disseminate the visual culture of a people. When media misrepresents a culture, the introduction to the culture can be flawed and create more problems. How then can media creators ensure that their representations are accurate? This project proposes that careful research balanced with an observation of the culture’s visual presentations can help guide cultural representations toward authenticity. This research specifically explores the problem of misrepresenting traditional Korean culture in American media. The generalization of East Asian cultures in American media caused by both past events and current events has lead to a distorted view of Korea. However, good representations of traditional Korean culture can help eliminate these stereotypes and generalizations by demonstrating the uniqueness and richness of Korean culture. Through research of traditional Korean cultural elements like hanbok, hanshik, architecture, Hangul, and pottery as well as visual observations of Korean visual media, this study aims to demonstrate the importance of viewing cultural objects in context and through the eyes of the members of the culture. Because the misrepresentation of Korean culture stems in part from limited American education on historical Korea, the end goal of this research project was to create an illustrated book for American elementary school children that will introduce them to an authentic and informative representation of historical Korea. The book’s visuals were created based on a combination of research and observation of cultural artifacts and visual presentations in drama, animation, illustration, and historical reenactments.