Out of Balance  Seoul 2013



Information Overload vs. Information Manipulation in the Korean Peninsula

North and South Korea represent the last vestiges of the cold war era; two diametrically opposed utopias each proclaiming to embody the “right” ideology, united by one fundamental reason d’être, the control and propagation of information.


This project seeks to investigate how this dichotomy is proliferated and kept alive through the use and manipulation of data.  South Korea’s  Free-Market economy has generated today’s most  internet “connected” country in the world, a data overloaded society, where information is seen more as a commodity than a source of understanding.  In contrast the North’s Self-reliance ideology suppresses and stage-manages information to a point where it is virtually impossible to know what is reality anymore.


In compiling these graphics we have been confronted with a fundamental paradox: how to interpret the South’s excess compared to the North’s lack of data?  Our conclusion was to stick equal parameters, from Physical and Geographical to Military and Economic, we have assembled a narrative of Korea’s present unique circumstance.

South Korea


Few countries have experienced such rapid modernization as South Korea witnessed between 1953-2000. Today ROK, The Republic of Korea, is the 25th most populated country in the world and lies 15th in terms of GDP output.  Extraordinarily 99% of its inhabitants belong to the same ethnic back ground, making it one of the most ethnically homogenous countries in the world, an interesting statistic considering that its economy is heavily dependent on exports. It posses the 6th largest active army in the world and is the country with the 2nd largest number of active soldiers per capita.


Geographically it is effectively an island being cut off from the continent by the DMZ, De-Militarized Zone – the most fortified border in the world, which divides the Korean peninsula into two. Demographically ROK also enters the record books, having in 2009 the world’s lowest birthrate, with predictions implying that its total population will decrease by 13% by 2050.


Korean traditional Confucianism culture has today fused with a new Technological culture with an estimated 90% of the population possessing mobile and smart phones. South Korea also has the fastest internet download speeds in the world and social media is an integral (fundamental) part of everyday life. Finally, there is education- the de-facto religion in Korea which suffers from both harsh competiveness and outstanding results.


Yet South Korea remains an enigma, a conundrum that statics can barely begging to unravel.  The Samsung phenomena the rest of the world looks at it both in awe and trepidation is only the tip of the ice-berg, the reality lies somewhere between Psy’s

“Gangnam Style” viral you-tube video and the traditional Hanook Korean house.

North Korea


The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is one of the most isolated states in the world, lead by a totalitarian regime, the Korean’s Worker’s Party, who profess a strict adherence to the “Juche” self-reliance ideology. North Korea has the lowest Democracy Index of any country in the world, and is also one of the most militarized countries, having the 4th largest active duty army in the world, after China, US and India.


All information concerning North Korea is heavily filtered and controlled by the state, and aims to perpetuate the cult of the personality of Kim Il-Sung, hence any portrayal is here depicted subjected to interpretation.  However most outside countries agree that North Korea has the worst Human Rights record of any nation.  There are allegedly some 200,000 people detained in prison camps and it is reported that if a citizen listens to Korean Radio he may be subjected to the death penalty.


What is the meaning of facts and statistics that can’t be testified? Propaganda is the manipulation of information to influence the community by presenting only one side of the argument.  North Korea represents the most jingoistic version of this manipulation in our contemporary culture and stands as a bench mark and reminder of the power of information.



Peter W Ferretto 

Lucia Espinosa