The Voice of University Students: Daejabo
The Voice of University Students: Daejabo
  • 서연지 기자
  • 승인 2007.04.02 00:00
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▲ Daejabo are seen around the campus voicing out students’ opinions.

During March, every wall on the campus was loaded with posters and fliers promoting either clubs or the thoughts of student associations on issues like the topic of war, or the cost of school tuition. When these thoughts are hand written on a big piece of white paper, they are called Daejabo , which literally means, big paper conveying a message in Chinese characters.

Daejabo was first introduced in China in 1957 by a university student, who pasted a Daejabo up on the wall of the Peking University student cafeteria. The Daejabo expressed a doubt about the procedure of the student election for Peking University representatives to the third Communist Youth League Conference. At first, posting Daejabo was encouraged as an expression of democratic voice, but in 1975 it was forbidden as Daejabo was being used as a political tool to harm innocent people.

Joanna Liu (International Studies, 4) said, “Daejabo can’t be seen in China anymore as it does not refer to the same thing that Koreans refer to.” Daejabo in China now has a different meaning, they are not posters that show people’s thoughts but a type of propaganda. “In Chinese universities, we are not allowed to post posters at will. So it is a nice experience for me to see many posters containing the thoughts of young students posted around Ewha,” said Liu.

In Korea, the meaning of Daejabo has changed over time. According to a survey conducted by Oh My News in December 2006, only 32 percent of Korean university students said they take a close look at Daejabo. Their main reasons for reading Daejabo were, for the majority (65 percent) to pick up campus news, followed by to know public opinion (24 percent), and to be aware of social and political issues (11 percent).

But, Sung Ji-hyun (Political Science and Diplomacy, 3) said many students still read Daejabo carefully. “I often receive text messages from students saying ‘I enjoy reading your Daejabo,’ or ‘I have a different opinion.’ This shows Daejabo is still alive,” said Sung. “Daejabo may have changed in some aspect. However, they still contain political issues and students’ opinions on the school’s policy; the difference is how we deliver it,” said Yang Kyung-eon, President of the Student Government Association (SGA). Yang said, to make Daejabo disseminate information effectively, the SGA uses easy words and examples related to students so it is easily understandable.

With the evolution of democracy in Korea, some say that the content of Daejabo has also changed. While they were used to convey strong objections to the government in the past, they are now used as a means to spread information and promote or show personal opinion.

“We used to post Daejabo, and run away because it was forbidden to criticize the government or the school in our time. Although we plastered them, they were always torn by the policemen. But now, I see an interesting phenomenon. Posting Daejabo was more like a one-way communication back in my days but now, when students criticize the school, the school explains its position regarding the issue through the Internet or other means, which makes it interactive,” added Professor Cha Hee-won (Media Studies).

Professor Cha said that it was not the role of Daejabo that had changed, rather the change was on the students’ attention. “When I was a student, if the SGA suggested protesting against a certain issue, we did. These days less students care about the SGA’s activities, and less about Daejabo since Daejabo are the main means the SGA uses to express its opinion,” said Professor Cha.

The form of today’s Daejabo is also becoming more diverse than that of the past. The traditional Daejabo was written with a black marker on a white paper. Now, techniques are more diverse. “We use color sprays and papers to make our Daejabo stand out,” said Kim Seul-ki (Nursing, 3).

“Although some say that the Internet is replacing the role of the Daejabo, the timeliness and easy access to information Daejabo provide will make them to survive in this era,” said Yang.

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