Korea's Top Advertising Director Claims 'Love and Truth' Are Guiding PrinciplesThe advent of information technology in our society has given advertisers even more avenues of persuasion, but it is perhaps television advertising that remains the most powerful. The impact of the continuous bombardment of TV ads is evidenced around the world, and the image of the adman as exploitative parasite is a persistent one.
But in Korea, the adman Choi Eun-seok, 38, seems convinced that advertising need not be anathema to honesty and good. He says he believes that through diligent practice, his principles of "love and truth" can infuse even the materialistic world of commercials. Since 1990, Mr. Choi has created more than 100 ads including commercials for Orion Chocopie, OB Lager and a recent ad for Hite featuring the actress Jeon Do-yeon and filmed on Mt. Baekdu. Currently he is working on the next LG Cyon.
"I'm very interested in love, because I think love is all I need to express, especially as ads around the world these days are full of sex, violence, drugs and politics," said Mr. Choi in a recent interview with JoongAng Ilbo English Edition in a south Seoul cafe where he was directing one of his TV commercials. "I can't completely rule out the commercial side of the ads. However, I have found that such concepts as love and truth are always more influential and remain in one's memory longer than ads that are provocative or violent. That's why I always create ads with a human story about a very human emotion － love."
Shin Hae-ran, a major actress set to appear in his next commercial for LG Cyon, has noticed that the style of his directing is different.
"Although he's stressed out a lot, he doesn't let it get to him. I made a lot of mistakes while he was directing, but he just smiled and let me move on."
Born in 1963 in Seoul, Mr. Choi was encouraged to gain an advanced education by his father, a priest. He studied philosophy at Yonsei University with the aim of becoming a philosopher or a priest like his father in the future. However, he said, he later realized that his true path lay elsewhere. He decided to get into the advertising industry in 1990.
Considered by many to be the most powerful director in show business, Mr. Choi has received many awards for his work, including three the Korea Advertising Awards, for his ads for LG Telecom 019 in 1998, the SBS "Campaign of Sharing Milk With Love" in 1999 and LG-Maestro-Bear Doll in 2000. He also picked up Director of the Year from the Korea Advertising Research Center in 1998.
"I didn't realize how important what I was doing and making was until I witnessed the responses I was getting from audiences, and especially from little kids, who love to imitate the ads. That made me sit up straight. It made me realize that ads, which last just a few seconds, can be a harmful poison or good medicine, and can even change the world. I thought then, 'it's all up to me.'"
Mr. Choi said that his philosophy in making the ads － his principles of love and truth － would not change."People encounter a new product first through the ads, so I focus on conveying a good feeling and impression of the product. I feel responsible for what I make. I know I shouldn't misuse or overuse the power given to me as the creator of commercials."
More in Features
Kakao TV launches this month, takes on Netflix
[TURNING 20] In a sea of hate, change flourishes
Criticism of sex ed books for kids raises more questions than answers
When it comes to sex ed, this Danish author says just talk about it
The traveling grandma who's 'alive and kicking it'