Jihoon Suh
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Vertical Type Exploration

I have been interested in Korean typography for couples of years now. One of the main reason I became so in love with Korean types is because of a famous font called Baram (바람체 - translates into 'Wind'). This font, which was sourced and funded through a crowd-funding project, also brought back the awareness regarding copyrights and respect for font design in Korea. 


Unlike latin characters, Korean alphabets (19 consonents, 21 vowels) morph their size and proportions when combined into characters. Due to this, a typical Korean font would require 3350+ characters to be drawn, which includes 2350+ Korean type variations, 1000+ alphanumerical and special characters.

Vertical Type

Traditionally Korean vernacular writings were written vertically. As Japan and China often use vertical types, East Asian countries traditionally wrote their letters vertically, from right to left. This may be a result of orientation and directions in which scrolls were held and unrolled. The punctuation marks for vertical types are also different from regular left-to-right, horizontal types. Period, comma, apostrophe, quotation marks are replaced with vertical type punctation marks. Interestingly, there are various problems with displaying alphabet and numerical characters within vertical type. The practice of typesetting Korean and alphanumerical characters is called mixed organization (섞어짜기).

18_10_해설_독립 신문.jpg


Examples of substituting punctuation marks.

  • Period ( . ) - ( 。)

  • Comma ( , ) - ( 、)

  • Double quotation (“ ”) - (『 』) 

  • Single quotation (‘ ’) - (「 」) 


I participated in crowdfunding Lee Yongjae's new project to create a family of font for Baram (Ultra Light, Medium, Semi Bold, Extra Bold) in the summer of 2016. This project is expected to be finished within this year, and I have received beta access to these fonts. While learning vertical type, I thought it would be a good idea to use these beta fonts in my practice for vertical type design. 

 Baram Font Family, currently being designed by Lee Yongjae

Baram Font Family, currently being designed by Lee Yongjae


Series 1. Resume

The punctuation marks in Baram beta fonts are fully not ready to be used in vertical type, especially they lack variance in weights. The thickness of puntuation marks should correspond with the weight of Baram family fonts. To cope with this, I extracted punctuations marks from existing Japanese fonts, which are well optimized for vertical type.


To be continued.