SVA MA Design Research

SVA MA Design Research, Writing & Criticism1 is a one-year graduate program2
devoted to the study of design, its contexts & consequences.
Our graduates have gone on to pursue research-related careers in publishing, education, museums, institutes, design practice, entrepreneurship, & more.3

  1. Formerly known as D-Crit
  2. About the program
  3. Applications accepted on a rolling basis. All successful candidates awarded a significant scholarship!
SVA MA Design Research

136 W 21st St, 2nd Floor

New York, NY 10011





(212) 592-2228

Korean Women in Zany – SVA MA Design Research

Jiwon Woo

Korean Women in Zany


You can easily find zany people on the street in NYC. They keep walking; but at the same time, they are checking their emails, listening to music, and dropping metro card from their pocket. Sienna Ngai, the author of Our Aesthetic Categories, explains the status of “zaniness” by connecting with contemporary’s commodity production. She explains that the zaniness of production has could be explained by stress and pressure from restless-cycle and labor’s productivity. Immediately, I could relate this zaniness status to South Korea’s (will state as “Korea” for the rest of the text) woman today and low-birth rate. Today, every year, Korea is challenged by the lowest birthrate. Such problem is closely connected to the reasons why Korean women—also women in the world who are in the same situation—are in zany: it is because they are in the situation where they have to have more responsibility by fettered with heavier shackles under title of “independent and modern women.”

Even 25 years ago, under paternalism family system, men were financially responsible and women were responsible for managing home and childcare. Such structure is abasement of women rights; however, women today are in pain by suppressed under the new social structure and look confused and zany in a sense they are just not able to do one thing right. As more rights women gain in society and as more difficult the Korean economy gets, today Korean women are responsible for both social role and domestic role, along with remaining paternalism family system. Korean men today wish their future brides to be financially stable by not quitting their jobs along with the childcare. They would not say anything close to paternalism in any public places because it’s almost like a taboo; but they would say very casually in private conversations. Therefore, the old structure is still there although no one says so. In other words, guys today seems to have equal responsible for chores and childcare, when the real situation comes, it’s not equal at all.

This one couple with two children appeared on TV documentary in SBS. The couple has the same academic and career backgrounds and there were enough conversation about equal childcare before they get married. But the reality is, after their kids are asleep, husband is learning foreign language through online, wife was finishing up chores and doing preps for school for kids. During the interview she says that she is way behind at work because she cannot stay late as others because of children, but she always feels that she is not a good mom at the same time.

Such realistic difficulties make Korean women to be zany. Or they just choose to give up marriage and kids. Sianne Ngai states being in zaniness would release some degree of pressure and stress of productivity of commodity. Nevertheless, liberation of current pressure that Korean women deals with will result in severe population decrease that Korean Society has to live with.