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Journaling -- more than just keeping records

Diary decoration market grows, supported by millennials

Diary kits (Hot Tracks)
Diary kits (Hot Tracks)

Despite the prevalence of digital scheduling applications, it seems that demand for paper diaries never dies out. In fact, the pastime of decorating journals -- “dakku” in Korean -- is more popular than ever.

Dakku, an abbreviation for a Korean word for decorating, refers to the use of colorful tape, memo pads, stickers and other stationery products to adorn journals. Dakku has always been popular among schoolchildren, but recently the trend has spread to those in their 20s and 30s.

“While I have been repeating the home to office, office to home routine after the COVID-19 pandemic broke out last year, I wanted to have a hobby that I can enjoy at home,” an office worker surnamed Lee, who lives in Pangyo, Gyeonggi Province, told The Korea Herald. 

Lee’s diary (Courtesy of Lee)
Lee’s diary (Courtesy of Lee)
Lee’s diary (Courtesy of Lee)
Lee’s diary (Courtesy of Lee)

Lee recently took up journal decoration and bought 120,000 won ($108) worth of stationery products last month, such as a diary, stickers and pens.

“While decorating the diary, I can look back on my day. There is a sense of achievement in keeping one, let alone decorating it to my taste,” Lee said. “It’s all about the stickers. It is fun to look out for stickers that are to my taste.”

According to Hot Tracks, an online shopping platform for stationery products affiliated with the country’s largest bookstore, Kyobo Book Centre, sales of journals and planners doubled in 2020 in comparison to the year before, while journal decoration products saw an eightfold rise in sales in the same period.

Another design shopping mall, Tenbyten, saw sales of journals rise by 68 percent last year to 1.3 million. It sold 2.8 million products related to diary decoration in 2020, a 97 percent increase from the year before.

Apart from major stationery retailers, small stationery shops in hip Seoul neighborhoods, such as Seongsu-dong, Mangwon-dong and Sinsa-dong, are enjoying a boom. The small shops try to set themselves apart from major retailers by introducing unique stationery products, sometimes collaborating with popular designers or cartoonists.

In the world of dakku, individual vendors abound, selling stickers and memo pads they have designed.

In the 1990s, when journaling first became trendy, students interested in dakku created their own stickers too, sharing digital files with their friends that could be printed out.

These days, however, individuals can make a financial profit from decorating journals. There’s a demand for print workshops where people can print the stickers they’ve designed, and many choose to sell them online through social media and other platforms.

Those who prefer digital journaling can enjoy dakku by using styluses to write and draw on their smartphone or tablet screens. And individuals can sell the files for stickers or digital journaling templates they have created.

The industry estimates the dakku market at about 10 billion won.
 
Decorative tape used for dakku is on display at Arc n Book’s Euljiro branch in central Seoul. (Im Eun-byel/The Korea Herald)
Decorative tape used for dakku is on display at Arc n Book’s Euljiro branch in central Seoul. (Im Eun-byel/The Korea Herald)
Diaries, planners and journals are on display at Arc n Book’s Euljiro branch in central Seoul. (Im Eun-byel/The Korea Herald)
Diaries, planners and journals are on display at Arc n Book’s Euljiro branch in central Seoul. (Im Eun-byel/The Korea Herald)
Stickers are on display at Arc n Book’s Euljiro branch in central Seoul. (Im Eun-byel/The Korea Herald)
Stickers are on display at Arc n Book’s Euljiro branch in central Seoul. (Im Eun-byel/The Korea Herald)

“You would think that decorating (a diary) is too much,” said YouTuber Roseha, popular for her diary decoration content, in a video in which she introduces dakku to a friend.

After receiving many accolades for decorations inspired by her trips, the “Harry Potter” film series and more, she launched a set of diary and stationery products in December 2019.

“You don’t have to do this, but by decorating it, you will feel better and block out all the chatter in your head. It is just a hobby.”

By Im Eun-byel (silverstar@heraldcorp.com)
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