On a pink seat for pregnant women on the subway sits a teddy bear holding a small memo saying, “This is a seat for pregnant women. Hug me when you sit and put me back in my seat when you leave.” No one could have ever imagined how a small teddy bear could become so famous. After putting these teddy bears on the designated seats for pregnant women of Seoul Subway Line 9 and Daejeon Subway, numerous people posted their reactions online followed by questions about who started this small but influential project. LOUD, a Public Communication Project led by Professor Lee Jonghyuk from Kwangwoon University, is the team whom everyone was wondering about. Founded in 2013, it is quite an extraordinary laboratory. “LOUD creates practical and communicational cultures that make citizens take part in social issues by interacting with them,” said Kim Do-kyung, one of the researchers from LOUD. “We are people who create this trend by leading citizens to participate in our practical projects.”
L O U D f i r s t s t a r t e d a s L e e wanted to elevate his major, public campaign, to a more practical value, not limiting it to merely conducting research on campus. Lee established LOUD due to the urge to apply his lessons to the stage of practical participation outside the boundary of research in school. In addition to the teddy bear campaign, among numerous projects during its five years of activity, the group has received national attention for its “Look both ways” campaign, which was a campaign posting bright yellow stickers on the crosswalks for elementary students to be cautious when crossing roads, as well as its red circle project. “ I n c l u d i n g t h e t e d d y b e a r campaign, there were other projects that brought awareness to the public,” Kim said. “‘Look both ways’ campaign stickers could be found all over the country, and the red circle project raised awareness about revenge pornography and sexual assault.” The red circle project was an activity that received attention from the public by giving citizens free red circle stickers that could be attached around cellphone cameras. Although citizens could only get these stickers by visiting a police station, 160,000 stickers were distributed. Attaching these stickers meant the users would not commit any sexual crimes using their cameras and would not tolerate sexual assault. Numerous participants, including Korea’s famous celebrities, such as actor Sol Kyung-gu and famous K-pop girl group GFriend, uploaded photos using these stickers on Instagram and other platforms. “We got this idea from tape attached on laptop cameras to prevent hackers from seeing through those lenses,” Kim stated. “As the red circle signs could be easily seen in our daily lives, we thought combining them would be a good way to promote caution.”
Other projects from LOUD can be found near Ewha. Policespot, a project to install signs that allow people to know how far the nearest police station is from their current location, was implemented in Yeonhui-dong and other Seoul side streets. There are advantages of using these simple pictogram stickers. First, they are easy to make, and second, they are cost efficient. Furthermore, pictograms are easy for citizens to recognize and understand at a glance. “Sometimes what seems simple can evoke such a great influence,” Kim said with a smile. Kim added that LOUD do not evaluate their projects depending on failure or success. Every project matters to them. LOUD and its projects are managed under the 3C philosophy and the 5S principle. The 3C philosophy means critical thinking, communication, and collaboration; and the 5S principle stands for selfhood, sighting, small, simple, and starting. These are the values that LOUD counts most.
“When we see a public issue, we follow these rules. Starting now regarding small problems that one sighted using simple ideas is at the core of our projects,” Kim said. F o r f u r t h e r p l a n s , L O U D i s c o n c e n t r a t i n g o n c r e a t i v e volunteering that connects youth and the community. For the community, they are trying to encourage youth to take the lead by participating in creative volunteering made by LOUD “LOUD’s ideas are not defined as one’s possession. Everyone could be the head of LOUD projects,” Kim stated. “Influences made by these procedures are tremendous. This is why everyone’s participation matters in LOUD.”