A few months ago, Korean artist Jazoo Yang completed her most recent piece, titled “Dots: Motgol 66.” The work covered a home set for demolition in the small Korean village of Motgol, Busan with Yang’s thumbprint. Working from October 9th to 29th, for 4-5 hours a day, 3 days a week, “Motgol 66” was the first time Yang was able to realize her project goal, with two previous incidents of homes being demolished early.
The work draws attention to the nuances of corruption and apathy in Korea’s housing market. With its economic growth, housing development in Korea continues at an unprecedented rate. In the process, small villages are frequently demolished to make way for new high-rises, with little compensation to the existing occupants. Though rebellions against these developments often end in injury and even death, they are technically legal and so not covered by the mainstream media. “Motgol 66” is just another of these houses set for demolition.
In Korea, the thumbprint – or “Jijang” – has a legal and personally binding power similar to a signature. With just a thumbprint, whole communities are turned over to destruction, people driven to bankruptcy and just as easily, millions of dollars exchanged. The act of placing the Jijang upon Motgol 66 was an act of self-declaration, amid the apathetic population of Korea, who are quick to forget wrongs like the negligence of the government in rescuing an ocean liner that sank last year, killing 300 Korean students.
Like many recent economic super-powers, Korea stands at a cross road of relentless development and self-preservation. In a country where landlords are said to be greater than God, Jazoo Yang’s “Dots” not only highlights the problems rampant in Korea’s housing economy, but brings new dignity and pride to these village set for demolition, casting a positive spotlight on what is typically seen as a relic of the past.