HanType

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In Conversation: Hiut Magazine, Fritz Park

Fritz Park is one of the founders of the Korean journal called Hiut. I was fortunate to have met Fritz in Seoul very briefly for the Post Text Poop exhibition a couple years ago and we talk a bit about the exhibition below. We touch on Hiut, designing fonts, and Korean culture in general.

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I heard from Chris that you are in charge of Hiut magazine. Can you tell us a little about the magazine?

Yongje Lee, a Hangul designer and I started this magazine in the fall of 2012. We had both been mulling the idea around and decided to bite the bullet. From the start, what we wanted to avoid was your run of the mill typography magazine, showcasing current type design trends, type designers and their work, rather we wanted a publication that would stay with the reader, be put on the shelf for repeated readings.

We wanted to start a dialogue about Hangul, Korean typography in general and to somehow find a venue or channel to get this conversation started. Much like Korea’s jump-started economy, type and typography in Korea has been all about work work work and pushing forward without any real contemplation of where it is we’re going and how to get there. So, this publication was meant to archive and record the contemporary history(근대역사) of Hangul from it’s application from lead type to phototype setting and finally digital.

Fast forward 2 years and the magazine is still going strong! Seen more of as an academic journal than a magazine, Hiut has impressed upon our readership the importance of history as well as the exquisite beauty of this alphabet.

Now, the magazine has a new designer, Sim Wujin who has worked in Japan as well as Korea and with our 6th issue he’s given the magazine a fresh new look and approach.

Why did you choose hiut ㅎ?

The name Hiut was chosen for a variety of reasons, personally our favorite letter, as well as being the final letter of Hangul. Previously, Yongje had a coffee shop which doubled and tripled into a gallery as well as workshop space for all things typography. When he closed that establishment and moved on to the magazine, it seemed natural to use the same name for the magazine as was the cafe.

Where can we get our hands on Hiut magazine? Do you have a website or an online shop? 

http://markethiut.com or most major bookstores in Korea.

I understand you did most of the translations for the Post Text project. Were there any particular concepts that you had trouble translating from English to Korean or vice versa?

Nothing in particular, besides the fact that I hate translating and it probably showed! What I do remember as being interesting was the common thread that seemed to appear with all of the designers from diverse age groups, countries and backgrounds.

What was that common thread?

Pretty much the theme or reason we started Post Text in the first place. It seems multicultural individuals have a similar longing or ‘void’ they want filled.

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The Post Text project we did had a theme of poop in korean culture. Why poop? Is there another topic you’d like to explore with Hangul type that’s specific to Korea?

Oh yes! When Marvin Lee, Alex Suh, Chris Ro and I discussed the theme for the show, it was really about choosing which theme from a plethora of ideas we thought up of. So many fun ideas. It would be great to continue this show in the near future.

Considering how difficult it is to design a Korean font, would you still want to design one?

I would say yes. Although Yongje would disagree. Having said that, I’d be really impressed with myself and probably make a t-shirt saying “I MADE A KOREAN FONT” with blinking LED lights embedded into it. I would wear it once a week.

What’s your favorite Korean font?

My favorite Korean font is the one I am using now, at this very moment. Baram is a font developed by Yongje Lee, and crowdfunded on Tumlbug. I’m using it for a poster I’ve been asked to work on… Tomorrow my favorite font will be different.

I’m glad you mentioned Baram font because I’ve been oggling that font for ages, where can designers purchase the font?

Also here: http://markethiut.com which I think is pretty reasonably priced when compared to the massively overpriced fonts on sale now… type foundries have become monstrous behemoth companies which directly affects the pricing of each font sold which in turn coaxes struggling designers to find alternate ways of acquiring the fonts. Crowd-funding is definitely a new avenue to explore in this regard!

[Soo’s notes: This may be common sense but if you are interested in buying Korean fonts, I strongly urge you to purchase them. In comparison to the Roman alphabet, it takes an incredible amount of time and energy to design one. So please support the Korean design scene and purchase a legitimate version of the font.]