03 May 2011 /

the utopian dream and its unexpected side effects

By moon kyungwon & jeon joonho
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These apartments, once called the 'strata of the future,' are now regarded as the fruits of overproduction. At first, they presented the 'mise-en-scene' of a convivial family replete with fair hope and equal comfort, basically, a promise of an impartial posterity. Taken in 1972, this picture represents the monumental construction of the multi-housing complex in the Yong-dong district in the southeastern outskirts of Seoul.  At the same time, the picture is also a printed proof of a developing country inching toward “progress”.  In this light, the apartments also doubled as symbols to represent the economic development granted to the 'Neo-Middle Class' (a term coined under the Motherland Modernization Proposition). Such other 'modernizations' proliferated throughout the country with the motto: "Enjoyment at work, contentment in life."  Yet, those who desired to rise as this neo-bourgeois had to standardize their life and dreams to match the squared convention required to hitch a ride on the road to the utopia dream. And nowadays, these same generic matchbox homes have become the very culprit of social discord as their homogenization has produced negative, alienating, results. This has left us with a question: aren’t utopian dreams supposed to come in many different shapes and forms?


Text and image courtesy of the artists (with permission of the National Archives of Korea's image copyright)

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