Seoul 1988 – Emblem

Designer: Yang Sung-Chun


In September 1982, SLOOC, the Organising Committee of the 1988 Seoul Games, organised a competition for the design of the Olympic emblem. It was advertised in print and radio media in South Korea. Koreans living abroad learned about the competition from the embassies of their homeland. Applicants were required to submit their work by the end of December 1982. The winner was promised prize money of three million won, at today’s exchange rate almost 2,600 US dollars, and the second- and third-placed were to receive 1 million won each. A total of 924 works were sent in, 23 of them from abroad. Despite a double review by an extra committee, the design committee did not select an emblem proposal as the winner, but two works were awarded second place. Subsequently, the Organising Committee invited these two, along with eight designers recommended by the design committee, to participate in phase 2. These ten graphic artists were now invited to submit two or more drafts each for examination; 26 works finally came in this way. The first sighting was carried out by the design committee in April 1983. Three designs were shortlisted and in June 1983, SLOOC selected the design by Professor Yang Sung-Chun of Seoul National University as the Games emblem. Yang Sung-Chun had chosen a traditional Korean samtaegeuk pattern for his emblem, which – together with the mascot Hodori – would represent the Olympic Games in Seoul around the world. In the final emblem, the samtaegeuk pattern, there are the five Olympic rings and the lettering “Seoul 1988”, the latter in either Latin or Korean characters. Samtaegeuk patterns are widely used and known in Korea. They are often used as decorative elements on fans, in folk art or on the gates of Korean houses. Professor Yang Sung-Chun united both centripetal and centrifugal forces in the samtaegeuk pattern of his emblem.