The recent death of Kim Jong Il has brought North Korea back to the international spotlight, a country notorious for poverty, nuclear weapons and its candy-coloured, ever-optimistic public art.
The hypnotic banality of North Korean design has been investigated and satirised by Jonathan Barnbrook (earning him a ban on ever travelling there), but London-based Barnbrook collaborator and designer Joonho Kwon produced a superb typography sculpture this year: Life. This work records the words and experiences of women refugees from the North, who suffer indescribable hardship and privation in attempting to escape the dictatorship.
Kwon, who was born and educated in South Korea, completed an MA in Communication Design at the RCA this year. His highly intelligent, socially-engaged design work reclaims the human values bleached out by art-propaganda.