Yongseok Jang


Frame Builders, Graphic designer

Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul

He’s not that type who easily consumes or brings things home that are thought unnecessary. When he’s free, he invites his friends over to watch TV or grab some light drinks. And he dreams of a life working and taking breaks rather effortlessly. The life of graphic designer Yongseok Jang is just about the same as the average lifestyle of men in their 30’s, living in Seoul alone. In one peaceful afternoon, we made our visit to his small but ample apartment, sitting halfway up the Gyeongnidan-gil road in Itaewon.

Charyeong Lee

It seems Itaewon has recently become one of the most favorable places to live among those living by themselves.

As for myself, it wasn’t a regional preference, I got to know the landlord by chance and he encouraged me to come. While the building was undergoing some renovations, he asked if I was interested in moving into one of the flats and coincidently I was on the verge of running away from the boring multi-plex units and downtown studios which I began to hate, so I waited about a year and moved in after the overhaul was finished.


So how does it feel living here?

It’s like finally I feel the sense of belonging, an attachment to a neighborhood as I settled myself into a more ‘liveable’ residential area, away from all those rushing downtown-affiliated units and studios. I never had that warm feeling or image about a neighborhood before. And I like how I can overlook the Seoul cityscape from this high-rise ground, only that these days I often run into a number of tourists, probably because of the area’s photogenic-ness that attracts them. Compared to when I first moved in, this place is getting a little too crowded for me and so I think maybe I should go find a more quiet neighborhood. Nowhere could be better than a resident area that has a supermarket close by, but hopefully without the curvy hill.


Has it been long since you lived by yourself?

I was born and raised in Suwon city and moved to Seoul for work. I settled and started my Seoul life in 2007 by working for a company in Nonhyeon-dong, Gangnam-gu. From my middle and high school years I highly admired a TV commercial director, Jongryeol Baek, so as a sophomore at college I went to work for his art direction team as an assistant. With that being my first job, I never went back to college and went through a number of job places and got myself here, doing graphic design ever since.


To you, what was Seoul like back then? I mean, Nonhyeon-dong is one of the top fanciest area in Seoul.

Back then I didn’t have any specific impression of the city. I had a limited route, just back and forth to work from home and that was it. Garosugil was an exception, we’d sometimes go for drinks after work. It was when Japanese pubs were popular and hot clubs and trendy cafes concentrated in the Gangnam area. So to me, Seoul was like an entertainment gathering, so to speak, like a great city to ‘hang out.’


On your studio Frame Builder’s website(www.framebuilders.kr) there’s a corner of photographs of Seoul taken by yourself with a film camera, and it got me curious to hear about your perspective of the city.

I wasn’t taking photographs of Seoul intentionally, it’s rather like the subject just happened to be parts of Seoul whenever I felt like taking out my camera. I never thought deeply on the images of the city. To describe it short, I’d say it’s a ‘workplace.’


Did you ever consider leaving Seoul?

WelI, I don’t have plans to leave the city anytime soon, but it sure is a tiresome place. But come to think of it, Seoul is one of the few cities that responds to your needs with most satisfaction. For instance, when you crave for a beer badly, you can get it in seconds, just around the corner.


Where in Seoul do you like most?

Euljiro is my favorite these days. I head to Euljiro whenever I feel like having drinks with my friends because it gives me the feeling of hanging out in a ‘real’ downtown. The size of Manseon Hoff, which is also known as the ‘Oktoberfest of Korea,’ just outruns everywhere else. And for instance, if Itaewon is a place you’d go with a purpose to get to a specific spot, Euljiro is where you’d arrive and slowly start searching for spots to go to. The region itself is what attracts you, not the particular content.


I was told that you’re into traveling and you travel overseas once every year. But still, does it feel better to return home?

Coming back home means returning to work so it’s a bit depressing. In 2014, I traveled to Portugal and learned that though the country’s economic state was lower, their quality of life was much higher than Korea. Rarely did I see anything absurd and there were peace written in everyone’s faces...Like, noticing their days so relaxed and less stressful was very impressive. And before the trip, living an effortless life and working without being too enthusiastic was something I didn’t quite relate to but my views have changed after I returned from that trip.


In what ways did it change?

As in my behavior towards work and life. And I don’t think it changed simply because of my aging. Because, I sometimes reminisce about the trip to Portugal with my friends who joined me there and we’d end up agreeing how the trip changed our perspectives of life. It might sound funny but these days I wonder about the ways to live a coasting life.


What are your recent interests?

I’ve always had interests for products but it rarely leads me to purchase. I already own everything I need so I don’t see a reason for adding more. I used to reach for my wallet whenever I saw something nice but I guess I’ve learned that living on your own doesn’t require many things.


Looking at your households, there aren’t much color to your place.

I didn’t purposely intend black and white but come to think of it, the only color I find is Fritz Hansen’s Seven chair. I actually wanted a different one but the store ran out of stock and instead lent me the Seven chair as a replacement until the other one was restocked, but I ended up buying this for a good deal. It was hard to sell anyway because it had a small flaw. And I don’t think this will easily break or anything so I’ll probably be using it for the rest of my life.


Is there a reason you chose this chair?

There are a great number of chairs with beautiful and sophisticated designs but for some reason they are a little bit disturbing. I tend to avoid things that make me think or picture a meaning and this chair hasn’t invaded my head with thoughts and ideas not even once, not yet.


You share your workplace with your home and does this ever bother your work?

I got rid of my old studio and merged it with my house in April 2015 and luckily the house is a two-story flat which gives a clear separation of space so it’s less distractive. And I pretty much concentrate well over my work. My friends actually make much better use of my house as they think of it as some sort of a hideout. Many like to come over to chill and some of the really close ones, whom I share the codes for the doorlock, would just raid in and stay for a while when I’m away on a business trip.


When did you establish Frame Builders?

Back in 2008, there was a group exhibition held at the Insa Art Space called <The Conditions for Choice, Frame Builders>, showing works by Sulki & Min, Jeonghwa Choi, M/M Paris, Skart, Vuk Cosic etc. I was greatly moved by the exhibit so I chased after the artist workshops. And I adopted the title of the show for  my studio. I actually majored craft but the show drew a tremendous effect on me and apparently I ended up becoming a graphic designer.


It seems Frame Builders perform mostly on art and music.

I didn’t reach out to works related to arts or music, like the posters for Daelim Art Museum or album covers for IU, myself but it naturally extended to those criteria as I started to make social relationships with people through work. A project almost automatically leads to another and I guess this is possible because I have a good sense of communicating with my clients, given the many years of practice in this particular field. I have a certain boldness inside me which I’ve always had from the beginning. I’m the kind of person who’d say yes even to the things that are totally new and inexperienced. Instead of turning my back, I like to face them and challenge myself, and I think I’m doing pretty okay with what I do. Considering that I make a fair living out of design.


In regards to your job that targets the mass, I can imagine you’d be proud of yourself in terms of creating part of Seoul’s culture.

To be honest, I’m not proud of my work. There’s this unsolved matter about the desire to discover my own method so that I can continue my practice for a long time. In the works that are spread out as posters and album covers do carry parts of my own ideas but the majority of the time is about solving problems. And my wish and goal is to gradually change that.




5F, 31 Euljiro 11-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul
3 Euljiro 3-ga
18:00-02:00(Mon-Thu), 18:00-03:00(Fri), 14:00-03:00(Sat), 14:00-10:00(Sun)

“Among my latest favorite town Euljiro, the most preferred spot is Seendosi.”


Whenever a crave for a drink arouses, Jang heads to Euljiro and straight to Seendosi—his latest favorite. Run by photographer Yoonho Lee and artist Byeongjae Lee, Seendosi is an indescribable, all-round space for a multi-purpose use. It’s a pub, an exhibit space and a platform for operating a membership system, which the members are offered to use the space as a studio during daytime. Its unique utilization of space and mysterious interior is fresh and  shocking, just like its name(‘Seendosi’ meaning ‘new town’ in Korean). A lot of fun and exciting events happen every now and then and for those of you who are interested, we recommend that you follow up their feeds on instagram(@seendosi).