The slogan created by a Korean student, Lee Ha-rin, or “I.Seoul.U,” has been elected recently in an online poll as Seoul’s new slogan, beating “Seoulmate” and “SEOULing” to replace the former slogan, or “Hi Seoul.” Nine experts, including marketing company CEOs and several professors, who participated in the poll unanimously chose “I.Seoul.U.” 16,000 total citizens participated in the poll to choose the new slogan.
The popular opinion about this slogan is that it makes no sense and is uninspiring. A slogan is supposed to be a catchy phrase that inspires or convinces one to commit to a certain action. In this case of the slogan of a city, the slogan should make sure that it conveys the implicit meanings behind the city, but also that it appeals to the public and lures tourists into the city. However, because I.Seoul.U is a phrase that does not make much sense in English nor does it seem to convey any hidden meaning that would help to advertise the city, many citizens in Korea disapprove of the slogan. For example, a citizen named Park Chang-won, stated that because of its abstractness, he was not able to “feel any Seoul with the slogan” (“Why ‘I.Seoul.U’ over ‘Hi Seoul’?” 2). Another citizen, Park Jun-kyu, mentioned that he had “no idea what I.Seoul.U” (“Why ‘I.Seoul.U’ over ‘Hi Seoul’?” 2) actually meant.
In contrast to the popular opinion, however, some citizens do possess positive opinions about the slogan. Several South Korean citizens say that this slogan is very meaningful democratically. Because this slogan was selected entirely by citizens, from creating the slogans to selecting the slogan, the slogan signals progress in the democracy of Korea. Moreover, the new slogan can have a variety of meanings; different people can comprehend the slogan in different ways. There are many possibilities of what “I” and “U” could mean and how they can be relevant to one another. Kim Min-ki, a professor at Soongsil University, claims that this abstract aspect of the slogan helps to depict the amount of “dynamics and potential that Seoul has” (“Why ‘I.Seoul.U’ over ‘Hi Seoul’?” 1) as the capital city of Korea.
Does “I.Seoul.U” really deserve to be the new slogan of our capital city?
In my opinion, it is not the best slogan for Seoul. The slogan of Seoul should be coherent enough that anyone can clearly understand what it is trying to convey. However, when the slogan is so vexing and illogical for normal citizens to understand, even English speakers, the slogan cannot be deemed effectual. Tourists will certainly not be able to comprehend the meaning behind this slogan if already many citizens in Seoul have been chastising the government for letting an unclear term or phrase become the slogan of such an important city.
– Ariel Hyunseo Kim (’19)