South Korean Road Signage — Designing for the Korean highway network

Until recently, South Korea’s road signage system was confusing and unsafe. Individual signs carried too much information (some with Korean, Roman and Chinese characters), signposts were overcrowded with multiple panels and ads installed by third parties. With road safety a major concern, the South Korean government invited Studio Dumbar to design a new and improved interface.

Working with Hong-Ik University, we developed concepts for layout, colour and graphic elements such as arrows, road numbers and pictograms. We introduced a new font, ‘Hangil’, custom-designed in several weights by type designer Pieter Van Rosmalen. Words and letters are widely spaced to ensure optimum legibility and clarity when moving at speed. A special version of the font was created so the optical effect of the lettering remained consistent on different background colours, all of which were darkened to further improve legibility. The system is gradually implemented nationwide.