Vol.7 Spring 2010
Books That Children Live By Interview Novelist Kim
DMZ A Place of Peace Protected by Non-peace
Vol.6 Winter 2009 A Quarterly Magazine for Publishers Vol.6 Winter 2009 A Quarterly Magazine for Publishers
Vol.6 Winter 2009 A Quarterly Magazine for Publishers Vol.6 Winter 2009 A Quarterly Magazine for Publishers
Top Five Questions for Vol.6 Winter 2009 A Quarterly Magazine for Publishers
Vol.6 Winter 2009 A Quarterly Magazine for Publishers
Vol.6 Winter 2009
1. What is list_Books from Korea,forand where can I find it? A Quarterly Magazine Publishers list is a quarterly magazine packed with information about all kinds of Korean books. Register online at www.list.or.kr to receive a free subscription.
Vol.6 Winter 2009 A Quarterly Magazine for Publishers
2. Can I get it in English? The printed edition of list is available in English and Chinese. The webzine (www.list.or.kr) is available in English, Chinese, and Korean.
3. What if I want more information about Korean books more often? We offer a bi-weekly online newsletter. Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org to begin receiving your free copy.
4. Who publishes list_Books from Korea? list is published by the Korea Literature Translation Institute, which is affiliated with the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. LTI Koreaâ€™s mission is to contribute to global culture by spreading Korean literature and culture abroad. Visit www.klti.or.kr to learn about our many translation, publication, cultural exchange, and education programs.
5. I understand there are grants available for overseas publications, right? LTI Korea offers many useful programs for overseas publishers, including Overseas Marketing Grants and Overseas Publication Grants. Visit www.koreanbooks.or.kr for detailed information.
Celebrating Children Through Books Children are the weakest members of any society in the world. They are weak physically, and they have little experience. Without support they cannot survive, nor can they escape difficult situations. They lack any deciding political power. They are easy prey to evil-doers and are easily abandoned in threatening situations. The terrible tragedy in Haiti demonstrated the way that children stand in the front lines of disaster. Even in the midst of the horror and sadness, conniving and calculating hyenas made children their target; news clips reported that a group of Haitian police officers were apprehended at the border trying to engage in human trafficking of abandoned children. In some ways, however, children are incredibly resilient. They have the power of dreams. Resignation to failure is not within the lot of children. They always believe in the possibility of success. They also have the power of communication. They communicate not with words and power but with curiosity and faith. Their hearts do not draw a line of reasoning of pros and cons. They make friends easily. And above all, they have the power of pure reflection. They fret about having upset a bunny with their forceful kicking, or worry about whether a word they uttered might have hurt a friendâ€™s feelings. They strive to be better people, and are acutely passionate about wanting to live in a better world. It is for this reason that reading children's books is a time for children to learn about the strengths needed in life. They invent countless stories at home, in school, and at the playground. The stories are truly diverse; they are exciting, heartbreaking, hilarious, and scary. But the stories protect their dreams. They remain noble, and more than in any other form of literature their stories examine children's selves and the world around them with brutal honesty. The spirit of books comes alive in the stories of children. This volume introduces books for children. Korean society today is intensely interested in its children and youth. Korean parents are passionate about education, and the cultural atmosphere enveloping children today is diverse. While Korea initially staggered behind, the last decade has seen an unprecedented boom in the publication of children's books. Picture books of refreshing and unique visions are coming to life, and they engage with a wide range of social issues. Many Korean writers are passionately trying to bring into print Korea's illustrious traditional history and folk tales through children's picture and prose books. From this rich corner of Asia and through these books, Korea's children might learn to communicate with the rest of the world more profoundly and with more excitement. This special section centers on four keyword concepts: family, school, friends, and folk tales. These keywords are common to children from all over the world. The works examined here are those books that best demonstrate the present and future of Korean children's books. The best way to protect our weak children is to give them good books. We are delighted to display our outstanding books to the children of the world. Greetings, children of the world! By Kim Ji-eun (editorial board member)
Copyright ÂŠ Kim Dongsoo, 2009, Borim Press
list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010 1
A Morning of Korean Picture Books
Showcasing Family Date and Time: March 23, 2010, 10:30 ~ 12:00 Place: Vivace Hall (Service Center Wing D, 1st Floor) Program
Screening of Baekgoo (Bianca) Lecture on Korean Picture Books by critic Kim In-ae Performance of Waiting for Mom (Aspettando La Mamma) by Vincenza Dâ€™Urso Meet the Illustrator Cho Hae-ran and picture book critic Kim Ji-eun
Contents Spring 2010 Vol.7
01 06 07 08 10
Foreword Trade Report News from LTI Korea Bestsellers Publishing Trends
Books That Children Live By
12 14 16 18
About Family About School About Folk Tales About Friendship
22 Novelist Kim Yeon-su Excerpt 26 “The Comedian Who Went to the Moon” by Kim Yeon-su 21 Writer’s Note: Ha Seong-nan 37 Book Lover’s Angle: Lars Vargö
28 30 32 33 34 35 36
The E-Book Will Not Save Publishing-But You Can WLT Introduces Korean Literature There a Petal Silently Falls by Ch’oe Yun The House with a Deep Yard by Kim Won-il Who Ate Up All the Shinga by Park Wan-suh Why Publish Korean Comics in France? The Last Autumn Love and Other Short Stories by Oh Jeong-hee
The Place 38 DMZ: A Place of Peace Protected by Non-peace Theme Lounge 42 Korean Drinking Culture
46 Fiction 52 Nonfiction 63 Children’s Books
Meet the Publishers
68 Hyundae Munhak 70 Baram Books
72 Recommended by Publishers 78 Index 80 Afterword
list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010 3
Contributors Kim Jinwoo serves as a reporter at the culture desk of The Kyunghyang Shinmun, and has previously worked on the sports, society, politics, and economy section teams.
L a r s Va r g ö Andrew Richard Albanese
is features editor and senior writer for Publishers Weekly, the premier trade magazine for the book publishing industry.
is currently the chairman of the Association of Korean Travel Writers as well as Principal of the School of Makgeolli. He is also the author of Secret Spirits, Rediscovering Korea’s Hidden Alcoholic Drinks, Hur Shimyung's 1,000 Miles of Drink, and other titles.
is the Swedish Ambassador to Korea. He is the head of the Seoul Literary Society, a gathering of the diplomatic community in Korea and writers, that he had a central role in creating in 2006.
Andrea Berrini Metropoli d'Asia.
is the CEO of
Joanna K. Elfving-Hwang is a visiting lecturer in Korean literature at the University of Sheffield, U.K.
Jung Yeo-ul is a literary critic. Jung
lectures at Seoul National University and the Korean National University of Arts.
Kim Dongshik is a literary critic Edyta Matejko-Paszkowska
specializes in children and youth readers’ literature. In 2009 thanks to KLTI, she participated in the Residency Program for Translation Research in Korean Literature. She is working under a project called “Let’s Discover Korean Children’s Literature for the Polish.”
is a translator and assistant professor of English Literature at Inha University. She received her Ph. D at SUNY Buffalo Poetics Program and was named, with Myung Mi Kim, a Korean-American poet, the recipient of the 2005 Daesan Foundation grant for the translation of Lee Seong-Bok's Ah! Mouthless Things. She specializes in contemporary American poetry, translation theory and practice, and comparative literature.
and a professor of Korean language and literature at Inha University. He is a contributing editor for the journal, Literature and Society. He is also an editorial board member of list_Books from Korea.
publishing. Her written works include Bestsellers of Our Time and This Is How Bestsellers Are Made 1, 2. She is also an editorial board member of list_Books from Korea.
is a literary critic and a professor at Anyang University in the General Education Department. He is the author of Homo Bookers: Experts of Reading.
Lee Kyungjae is a literary critic and a part-time lecturer at Ajou University. Lee was awarded the 2006 Critic’s Prize from the Munhwa Ilbo.
Lee Yeong-gyeong started working
for The Kyunghyang Shinmun in 2005. She worked for the judicial team on the society desk for three years then transferred to the culture desk in October 2008. She currently specializes in literature.
4 list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010
Richard Hong is a book columnist
and the head of BC Agency. He translated 13: The Story of the World’s Most Notorious Superstitions, appeared on KBS 1 Radio’s “Global Today,” and writes columns for The Korea Economic Daily and Posco News. He is also an editorial board member of list_Books from Korea.
Shin Junebong is a journalist in the
literature department of the JoongAng Ilbo. He received his master's degree from Goldmiths, University of London in 2008, and is interested in theoretical analyses of literature, cultural phenomena, and customs. He is also an editorial board member of list_Books from Korea. is a picture book editor. As a member of The Korean Association of Studies in Children's Books, she evaluates children’s books published in Korea and compiles a yearly promotional book list.
stories and a critic of children's literature. She currently lectures on theories of writing fiction for children in the Department of Creative Writing at Hanshin University. She is also an editorial board member of list_Books from Korea.
Yi Soo-hyung is a literary critic and Marzena Stefanska translated Oh
Jeunghui's short stories into Polish in 2009 and translated another novel, The Bird, by the same author, which will be published in 2010. Her areas of interest are Korean women in literature and Korean feminism.
with the Beijing Writer’s Association. He has also translated Kim Won-il’s novel, A House with a Deep Yard.
works as a translator and children's literature critic. Park is a member of the editorial committee for the Changbi Review of Children's Literature.
Kim Ji-eun is a writer of children's
Kim Taicheng is a writer affiliated
columnist, translator, and freelance writer. He has translated 10 books into Korean and wrote Books Have Their Own Destiny, A Short Introduction to Chinese Philosophy, and An Interview with My Teacher: What Is Philosophy?
Nadia Gibert Han Mihwa writes on the subject of
writes children’s books. Currently, he is editor-in-chief of the culture and science section of SisaIN, a weekly magazine and is a member of the World of Children’s Story Society. His books include Tori Is Escaping from Game Land and The Amazing Mystery of Our Body.
Pyo Jeonghun is a book reviewer,
Jennifer Crewe is associate director
and editorial director at Columbia Un iver sity Pres s, w here she has acquired books in various fields in the humanities including literary studies, film, and Asian humanities, for over 20 years.
is an editor at Casterman Publishers, a French publisher with more than a 20-year history.
a senior researcher at the Seoul National University Academic Writing Lab. He studied contemporary literature, and has taught at Hongik University, Seoul Institute of the Arts, and Korea National University of Arts.
Yu Youngjin is a critic of children’s
literature and a teacher at Ja-un Elementary School. He is the author of The Body’s Imagination and Fairy Tale.
Translators Ann Isaac
has a BA and MA in Classics and English Literature from Cambridge University, and an MA in Japanese Studies specializing in Translation from the University of Sheffield. After moving to Korea in 2001, she studied Korean language at various institutions and currently translates from Korean to English, with a special interest in literary translation.
Cho Eunmi is an interpreter and
Peter J. Koh is a freelance translator/
interpreter. He is currently participating in the KLTI's 2010 Intensive Workshop in Literary Translation.
has translated many books from English to Korean and from Korean to English for Schweitzer Korea. In 2004, she was awarded the Commendation Prize in the Korea Times Literature Translation Contest for her co-translation of Go Eunju’s “Cocktail Sugar.”
translator in French and Korean. She completed her MA and BA in French Literature at the Graduate School of Interpretation and Translation at Ewha Womans University.
reporter at the culture desk of The Korea Herald, covering Korean movies and books.
is currently the youngest master's student at the Graduate School of Interpretation and Translation at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, majoring in KoreanEnglish and Korean-Spanish translation and interpretation.
Dafna Zur lives in Vancouver, where
she is a PhD candidate in the Asian Studies department of the University of British Columbia. She is currently completing her dissertation on national identity in North and South Korean children's literature, 1920-1960.
majored in theater at the University of WisconsinStevens Point. She is a freelance editor who currently resides in Seoul.
Yang Sung-jin is currently a staff
is a freelance translator. She has translated several books and papers on Korean Studies including Korean Traditional Landscape Architecture (2007), and Atlas of Korean History (2008).
received her undergraduate degree from Tufts University. She is a Bostonian/Busanian freelance translator.
is working on several translation projects under the guidance and support of the International Communication Foundation and the Korea Literature Translation Institute. For his translation of Hwang Jung-eun’s “The Door,” Chung received the 38th Korea Times Modern Literature Translation Commendation Award.
Kim Stoker earned a Master’s degree
in Asian Studies at the University of Hawaii. She’s currently a fulltime lecturer at Duksung Women’s University.
graduated from Seoul National University in German Literature and also studied at the Free University of Berlin. He earned a Master’s degree in Comparative Literature.
MANAGING DIRECTOR _ Park Kyunghee EDITORIAL BOARD Han Mihwa Kim Dongshik Kim Ji-eun Richard Hong Shin Junebong OVERSEAS PUBLICATION COMMITTEE Joseph Lee Paek Eunyoung Rosa Han EDITOR-IN-CHIEF _ Kim Heaseung MANAGING EDITOR Choi Hye-in Cha Yongju EDITORS Kim Stoker Krys Lee
DESIGNERS Kim Mijin Lee Jaehyun Jang Hyeju PHOTOGRAPHER _ Lee Kwa-yong PRINTED IN _ EAP
list_ Books from Korea is a quarterly magazine published by the Korea Literature Translation Institute.
Jung Yewon studied interpretation
and translation at GSIT, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies. Jung has interpreted and translated for Bain & Company, Korea and various other organizations, and is currently working as a freelance interpreter/translator.
EDITORIAL DIRECTOR _ Kim Yoonjin
ART DIRECTOR Choi Woonglim
Jaewon E. Chung
PUBLISHER _ Kim Joo-youn
EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Kim Jisun
H. Jamie Chang
is an artist and translator. She has been translating for over 20 years. She specializes in Korean literature and the arts.
Vol.6 Winter 2009 A Quarterly Magazine for Pub
Krys Lee is an editor, translator, and
fiction writer. She also teaches fulltime at Duksung Women’s University. She is currently finishing a short story collection.
All correspondences should be addressed to the Korea Literature Translation Institute at 108-5 Samseong-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea 135-873 Telephone: 82-2-6919-7700 Fax: 82-2-3448-4247 E-mail: email@example.com www.klti.or.kr www.list.or.kr Copyright © 2010 by Korea Literature Translation Institute ISSN 2005-2790
Cover Illustration from Sea of Tears by Seo Hyun
list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010 5
Korean Comics Charm Asia The popularity of Korean comics in China, Ta iwa n, T ha ila nd, Indonesia, Vietnam, and other Asian countries is truly staggering. Whether it’s educational comics, biographical comics, or general graphic novels, publishing c ompa n ie s a l l over A si a c a l l in w it h querie s on copy rig ht contracts almost the minute these c om ic s h it t he book store s i n Korea, and an increasing number of publishing com-panies have been raging a bidding war against e a c h ot her w it h c omp e t it ive initial royalty payments to import Korean comics. T he Why Series ( Yea R imDang) and Survival Series (I-seum), boasting total sales of 20 million and 10 million copies respectively, are two representative Korean educational comics that laid the foundation for the Korean
educational comics craze growing all over Asia today. The copyrights to Must-read Cartoon English B ook for C hil d r en a nd Mu stread Cartoon English Grammar Book for Children published by Wisdomhouse and Math, Clear the Mission, Tenacious Science Textbook Series that Surprised Science Teachers, ManMan ComicTextbook: Science, and ManMan Comic-Te xtbook by Woongjin ThinkBig were sold to Amarin Pri nt i ng a nd Publ ish i ng a nd Jamsai of Thailand and Pt Elex Media Kompuntindo of Indonesia i m me d i ate ly f ol low i n g t he i r publication. The enthusiasm for Korean comic s, which bega n w it h educ ationa l comic s, is now spreading to other genres as well. The rights of The Obama Story, The Story of Thomas Alva Edison,
The Story of Oprah Gail Winfrey, The Story of Steven Allan Spielberg a nd ot he r G r e a t He r o S e r i e s published by Dasan Books were sold in Indonesia to PT Gramedia and Children’s Publication Co. in Taiwan. The publisher is currently negotiating copyright contracts with various A sian publishers including ones from Hong Kong and Vietnam. Modern Press of China and Titan Publishing Co. of Taiwan bought the rights for Papepopo Rainbow, the definitive Korean romantic graphic novel a nd t he w i n ne r of t he 2 0 0 9 Korean Comics Grand Prize.
By Richard Hong
Self-help and How-to Guides on the Rise The Korea n copyright export market in 2009 was on the whole dominated by fiction, but it was the self-help and how-to guide category that shined this year with their sales. Four Bank Accounts, a book by financial consultant Ko Kyungho on how to save a lump sum with four bankbooks, was bought by Sunmark Publishing Co. in Japan and China’s Grand China Publishing Co., while My Happy Way to Work, a book by Ven. Pomnyun Sunim (a recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award, internationally recognized as the Nobel Peace Prize of Asia) on the problems office workers face today and how to go about solving them, was sold in Japan and China. The TV writer Noh Heekyoung, who secured a devout fan base through t he T V series “Pret tier T ha n Flowers,” “Lies,” and “The World They Live In,” penned a collection of t herapeutic essays entit led All Who Do Not Love Now Are Guilty, which was published by the Asahi Shimbun Publications I nc . i n Japa n, a nd Profe s sor Chang Young-hee’s posthumous publication, The Miracles in My Past, the Miracles in My Future and Only Once in My Life, well-
6 list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010
loved among Korean readers last year, will be published by Guangxi Science & Technology Publishing House of China in the first half of 2010. A notable number of books on beauty, diet, and travel were also sold to foreign publishers in China and Taiwan. Some of these include Smart Skin Care, a guide to improving sk in conditions and maintaining healthy skin, by dermatologist and medica l columnist Kim Youn-jin, Style City, a guide to cheaply obtaining the latest luxury fashion items, and Café Style Sandwich, a cookbook of unique sandwich recipes. By Richard Hong
News from LTI Korea
Seoul International Writers’ Festival to be Held in Seoul
Leena Elisabeth Krohn
In May 2010, LTI Korea will host the 2010 Seoul International Writers’ Festival under the theme “Fantasy + Empathy.” First held in 2006, the festival is a biannual event held around May. The 2010 festival will be the third of its kind. Twelve Korean writers will participate, including novelists Kim Ae-ran, Park Hyoung-su, Bae Suah, Jeong Chan, and Pyun Hye-young, poets Kwon Hyeok-woong, Kim Minjeong, Kim Haeng-sook, Ra Hee-duk, and Choi SeungHo, and children’s book writers Kim Namjoong and Kim Hye-jin. Twelve foreign writers will also participate in the festival: novelists Junot Diaz and Min Jin Lee from the United States, Leena Elisabeth Krohn of Finland, Hallgimur Helgason of the Republic of Iceland, Andrey Kurkov of Ukraine, poets Maja Lee Langvad of Denmark, Edwin Thumboo of Singapore, Vivek Narayanan of India, Gilles Cyr of Canada, Ines Abassi of Tunisia, and children’s book writers Iwona Chmielevska of Poland, and Satoshi Kitamura of Japan. The festival will take place in areas outside the capital as well as in Seoul. For more information, please visit the SIWF website, w w w.sy w f.or.k r or contact the SI W F secretariat by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: 82-2-6919-7724.
LTI Korea Forum to be Held in Five Countries Since 2009, LTI Korea has been holding LTI Korea Forums in various foreign cities as part of the institute’s major undertaking to promote the publication of Korean literature and books on the international stage. The forums will be held in Paris and Berlin this year, in addition to Tokyo, Beijing, and New York, where LTI Korea Forums were held last year. The first LTI Korea Forum of the year will take place in April in Berlin, followed by the Paris
forum in May, Tokyo in July, Beijing in September, and New York in October. The forums will take place in five major sites of world literature and publication with writers, translators, and publishers as key participants in the forum, establishing the LTI Korea Forums as a unique brand that creates a synergy between Korean literature and the world market. At the Berlin forum, German scholars, t r a n s l a t or s , a nd pu bl i s he r s w i l l g e t
together to engage in a lively discussion on “translating culture.” Three Korean writers, Kim Won-il, Sung Suk-je, and Eun Heekyung, whose works have been translated into German and published for German readership, will attend the forum.
list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010 7
What We’re Reading Fiction
What You Never Know
Choi Gang-hee, Beyond Buzz!
Kwon Bee-young, Dasan Books, 2009, 360p ISBN 978-89-6370-034-2
Jung Yi-hyun, Munhakdongne Publishing Corp. 2009, 496p, ISBN 978-89-546-0964-7
Choi Gang-hee, Munhakdongne Publishing Corp. 2009, 344p, ISBN 978-89-546-0885-5
A historical novel that tells the life story of Princess Deokhye, born in 1912 as the youngest daughter of Emperor Gojong of the Joseon dynasty, who lost his country to Japan and had to concede his title. This book charts the checkered life of Princess Deokhye, who, at the age of 13, was taken to Japan, where she was forced to marry a Japanese husband and suffered from mental illness before finally returning to Korea 37 years later.
One day the youngest daughter of a family with a Chinese immigrant mother (the father’s second marriage) suddenly disappears. This full-length novel gropes its way towards reconciliation between members of this fragmented family as they search for the daughter.
Although a brilliant film actress, Choi Gang-hee never loses sight of her own special identity. These sensitive photo essays tell of separations, tears, travels, and the nostalgia she feels as a 30-year-old woman.
Lee Oisoo, Hainaim Publishing Co., Ltd. 2009, 279p, ISBN 978-89-733-7060-3
What Would I Be Without You? (Que Serais-Je sans Toi?) Guillaume Musso, Balgeunsesang Publishing Co., Ltd. 2009, 362p, ISBN 978-89-843-7100-2
A new full-length novel from an author especially popular with Korean female readers, this work portrays with the sensitivity of a film the ups and downs of the love between American UC Berkeley student Gabrielle and French overseas student Martin.
The Lost Symbol Dan Brown, Moonhak Soochup, 2009, 416p ISBN 978-89-8392-338-7
The latest novel by American author Dan Brown. The capital of America, Washington D.C., was designed according to the philosophy of the secret society of Freemasons, and harbored somewhere in this city is an astounding piece of knowledge that could change the course of human civilization. This is the setting in which Harvard professor Langton and the villain Mal’akh confront each other.
Kim Jung-hyun, Munidang, 2010, 296p ISBN 978-89-745-6430-8
In the economic crisis 13 years ago, when Korea received financial aid from the IMF, Kim Jung-hyun rose to popularity with his novel Father on the theme of broken families. His new full-length novel depicts the joys and sorrows of a family man in his 50s, who has become nothing but a money-earning machine and is respected neither inside nor outside his home.
The Road Cormac McCarthy, Munhakdongne Publishing Corp. 2008, 327p, ISBN 978-89-546-0590-8
This full-length novel tells the story of a father and son who set out on a journey for survival after the earth is devastated by a catastrophe.
Pavane for the Deceased Princess Park Min-gyu, Wisdomhouse Publishing Co., Ltd. 2009, 420p, ISBN 978-89-591-3391-8
Set in Seoul during the 1980s, this full-length novel tells the love story between a woman so ugly that she has an inferiority complex, and her male work colleague.
Youth Is Invincibility Novelist Lee Oisoo offers those in their 20s, who are quailing in the face of recession and economic stagnation, a way to regain their courage.
Secret Notes of an Air Hostess Jeong Jinhee, Cine21 Co., Ltd., 2009, 284p ISBN 978-89-9320-849-8
A peak at the life of air hostesses, who work 30,000 feet up in the air, this book frankly reveals their work, their sense of pride, and anecdotes of things that happen inside a plane.
Sincerity Kim Cheol-ho, Vision B&P Co., Ltd. 2010, 240p, ISBN 978-89-632-2019-2
This is the success story of Kim Cheol-ho, CEO of Bonjuk, who rose from pancake vendor to owner of a chain of restaurants specializing in Korean porridge. In this book he shares five rules for success, based on his own experience.
Choi In-ho’s Fate Choi In-ho, Random House Korea, 2009, 340p ISBN 978-89-255-3539-5
A new book of essays by novelist Choi In-ho, an active writer for over 40 years. In this work Choi explores in photos and words his connection with people he has known for almost as long as he has been writing.
These list totals are based on sales records from eight major bookstores and three online bookstores from November 2009 to January 2010, provided by the Korean Publishers Association. The books are introduced in no particular order.
What You Never Know
8 list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010
Choi Gang-hee, Beyond Buzz!
Youth Is Invincibility
Secret Notes of an Air Hostess
Children's Books Kim Yu-na’s Seven Minute Drama Kim Yu-na, JDM Co., Ltd., 2010, 288p ISBN 978-89-451-2515-6
Autobiographical essays by Kim Yu-na, Korea’s figure skating queen, who won a gold medal at the Vancouver Winter Olympics.
A Country Doctor’s Beautiful Companion Park Kyungchol, Woongjin ThinkBig Co., Ltd. 2005, 320p, ISBN 978-89-01-04920-5
A small-town surgeon recounts 24 hours in the life of the country hospital where he works. This book warmly depicts the hard lives of people he has met in this place of crisis, the hospital.
30-Year-Olds Ask Psychology Kim Haenam, Woongjin ThinkBig Co., Ltd. 2008, 312p, ISBN 978-89-01-07858-8
People in their 30s have spent their teens and 20s frantically struggling with study, job hunting, and job insecurity. Then just when they should be entering a period of stability, they find themselves belatedly worrying about who they really are. These psychologically healing essays provide encouragement for people in their 30s.
Study Enthusiasts Survive! Lee Si-hyung, JoongAng Books, 2009, 264p ISBN 978-89-61888-11-0
What can we do in this age of survival? The prominent Korean psychiatrist Dr. Lee Si-hyung emphasizes the importance of studying. This book presents a way to turn one’s life around through effective study strategies grounded in brain science, and through creative ability.
Do I Really Love You? Kim Haenam, Woongjin ThinkBig Co., Ltd., 2007, 262p ISBN 978-89-01-07460-3
Why is it that we long for love yet are afraid of it? How is it that we desire love, but it is the wrong sort of love that comes along? This collection of healing essays looks at the correlation between past wounds and present love from a psychoanalytical standpoint.
Kim Yu-na’s Seven Minute Drama
Fantasy Math Series
Courage for Children
Grimnamu, Random House Korea, 2009, 283p ISBN 978-89-255-3378-0 An educational comic book in which the warriors of Atlantis fight their battles using mathematical principles and knowledge. This book presents the concepts of infinity and mathematical functions in an exciting way.
No Kyungsil; Illustrator: Huh Ra-mi Wisdomhouse Publishing Co., Ltd. 2008, 172p, ISBN 978-89-3493-685-5 A children’s version of the adult bestseller Courage. By telling stories of seven different situations where courage is required, this book helps children develop positive self-confidence in life.
Surviving in Body Gomdori Co., I-Seum, 2009, 196p ISBN 978-89-3784-797-4 This educational comic book investigates what all the various organs in our bodies do and where those organs are situated. It also explores ways of preventing illness and maintaining health.
Cartoon - Korean History Learning Edutorial Department Samsung Publishing Co., Ltd., 2002 ISBN 978-89-1502-967-5 (set) The writings of eminent historian Lee Yi-hwa are presented in comic book form in this complete collection of stories from Korean history. These books are rich in folk history and customs.
School of Liars Jeon Seong-hee; Illustrator: So Yun-kyoung Munhakdongne Publishing Corp. 2009, 224p, ISBN 978-89-546-0962-3 This satirical fairytale, set in an imaginary school that trains elite liars, depicts a world composed of lies. This work won the 2009 Munhakdongne Children’s Literature Award Grand Prize.
The Crocodile That Built a House of Books
Holiday Homework Sumbakkockgil; Illustrator: Kong Dukhee, Balgeunmirae 2010, 130p, ISBN 978-89-9269-348-6 A guide to self-study that children can do during the long vacations, this book presents various activities and methods for writing book reviews, a diary, observation records, reports on visits to cultural properties.
Hunmin Jeongeum ㄱㄴㄷ
Ro Jeong-eem; Illustrator: An Gyoung-ja Cum Libro, 2009, 44p, ISBN 978-89-9122-158-1 This picture book for small children is designed to introduce readers to stories of the mountains, rivers, fields, and grass that form the basis of Korean culture, while at the same time teaching them the basic letters of the Korean script.
A Collection of Word Playing Children’s Verse Choi Seung-ho; Illustrator: Yoon Jeongjoo BIR Publishing Co., Ltd. 2005, 190p, ISBN 978-89-491-2023-2 This picture book of poems for small children is written simply, and makes excellent use of the rhythm of words. A fun book, it is designed to enable children to make connections between sound and shape as they read.
Yang Tae-seok; Illustrator: Won Hye-jin Gimm-Young Publishers, Inc. 2010, 64p, ISBN 978-89-349-3685-5 This fairytale tells how a very shy crocodile with no friends builds a library, which helped him become friends with his neighbors. In this book the author takes up the theme of eliminating prejudice.
The Crocodile That Built a House of Books
Hunmin Jeongeum ㄱㄴㄷ
list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010 9
Business Books Sell Well Despite Economic Slump
2009 from the previous year, and revenue also slid by 5.2 percent. One intriguing trend in the business and management book section in 2009 was that Korean readers shifted their attention toward homegrown titles. Topselling titles include Four Bank Accounts, offering tips on effective personal finance; Dreaming in the Attic, promoting a magic formula in which R (Realization) = V (Vivid) D (Dream); Study Enthusiasts Survive, Dr. Lee Si-hyung’s advice on learning techniques based on neuroscience from a psychiatrist’s perspective; To Go Farther, Walk Together, a book about respected individuals by Lee Jongsun known for her Warm Charisma; Bad Samaritans, revealing Cambridge University Professor Chang Ha-joon’s insightful view on economic liberalism, and Creativity Virus H2C, a success story by Lee Seung-han, chairman of Homeplus. By Richard Hong
Sales Volume of Literary Titles Surges
The word epitomizing the business and management book section of 2009 was none other than “slump.” According to the bestseller data complied by Kyobo Book Centre and other bookstores in Korea, Ko Kyungho’s Four Bank Accounts and E Ji Sung’s Dreaming in the Attic made it to the top 10 bestseller list. (The copyrights of both books have been sold to Japanese publisher Sun Mark). Amid the prolonged economic downturn, local readers sought to find solace and courage in books, which propelled literary titles to the spotlight and brought a slump to the business management and self-help sections. Kyobo Book Centre data shows that self-help titles were hit the hardest: the number of self-help books tumbled 9.2 percent in 10 list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010
In 2009 Korea n literature grew significantly in terms of sales figures from the previous year. According to Yes24.com, an online bookseller whose market share is steadily expanding on the domestic market, the sale of Korean literary titles jumped 40 percent in 2009 from a year earlier, while foreign literature witnessed a 35 percent growth. Major bookstore Kyobo Book Centre revealed that 47 literary titles such as novels and essay collections made it to the 2009 bestseller list, marking a meaningful increase from 35 titles in 2008. One explanation about the strongerthan-expected performance of literary titles is that people tend to seek solace and comfort in literature when they confront troubles in their everyday life. More convincing, however, is a fact that several blockbusters helped boost the overall sales. Shin Kyungsook’s Please Look After Mom sold about 1.2 million copies during the one-year period since its publication in 2008. Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 proved the commercial appeal of the renowned Japanese writer again, selling 600,000
copies in just three months after its debut on the Korean market. Critics, writers, and experts all agree that one noticeable trend in 2009 was a serialization of novels on the Internet. Gong Ji-Young, Kim Hoon, Hwang Sokyong, Shin Kyung-sook—top Korean writers who command both critical and commercial success—have jumped on the online serialization bandwagon, with some of their Internet endeavors resulting in offline publication after a successful run on the Web. Interactive communications is cited as a positive outcome as writers responded to online comments made by readers. But what cannot be ignored is that some online serialization projects have been undertaken as part of social network marketing campaigns. A nother memorable development in 2009 was that novelists and poets expressed their collective opinions on polit ic a l issue s. For inst a nc e, some 190 writers issued a formal statement condemning an accident in which five mercha nt s were k i l led in a reck le ss clampdown by the police over clashes surrounding a redevelopment project in Seoul. The writers’ collective move prompted a debate about the relationship between literature and politics. A few literary magazines carried special coverage tackling the issue. By Shin Junebong
New Children’s Book Projects
oriented titles to better serve the local readers with different needs and tastes.
In 2009, an economic crisis pummeled the entire globe. Korea was no exception. T hou g h K ore a n pa rent s a re w idely known for their enthusiastic support for and investment in their children’s education, the number of new children’s titles almost halved in the second half of 2009 compared with the same period of 2008. The bestseller list was dominated by comics-based education titles such as the Why Series, Magic Chinese Characters, Treasure Hunting Series, and popular children’s stories including Puppy Poo, which is included in school textbooks. The Why Series set a new record by selling more than 20 million copies, while Magic Chinese Characters and Survival Series topped the 10 million-mark each. Young adult novels have secured a fresh reader base, faring relatively better than expected. The 2008-2009 sa les volume jumped by as much as 328 percent from the 2006-2007 period. This dramatic increase in sales was not so much a result of a sharp expansion of youth readers as a positive reaction from adult readers in their 20s and 30s. Adult readers, pinched by the economic downturn, might have sought some comfort in literature targeting younger readers, a s the young adult novels tend to stir up memories of their adolescent years. The publication of collected works targeting younger readers is on the rise. Publishing book series’ has expanded so much so that its market size is now estimated to be about six times bigger than that of single titles. Given that such series have a huge impact on the reading culture of children as well as the publication m a rke t’s g row t h, more t r a n spa rent distribution and focus on quality are in order. As Korea’s education system further stresses the test scores of students, children have been forced away from reading for pleasure. The spread of swine flu resulted in the temporar y shutdown of many schools and discouraged parents from going out with their kids to bookstores for fear of getting infected with the potentially lethal epidemic, a development that helped put a damper on the children’s book market. However, a growing number of publishers are planning to put out children’s stories targeting early teens and introducing a variety of knowledge-
Audiences Go For Positive Essays
By Kim Ji-eun
Essay collections enjoyed a much-awaited growth in 2009 following slow sales due to the fierce competition from business and other self-help books. The comeback of essayists in the local market was largely due to the global economic downturn that prompted Korean readers to seek out comfort and solace in essays. This development is in line with a similar growth of literary titles in 2009. Some of the top sellers in the essay section, therefore, focus on a positive attitude, hope, or a message of love. For a start, Han Bi-ya, a traveler and a celebrated author who has produced several bestsellers, put out It Turns Out, It Was Love, highlighting her unwavering passion in the face of obstacles. English professor Chang Young-hee’s posthumous
essay collection, The Miracles in My Past, the Miracles in My Future sent a moving message to readers. In 2009, more teenagers grabbed essay collections. Shouting You to the World, a book written by teen group Big Bang, depicts their success story in a candid way that appeals strongly to teenage readers. In addition, actress Choi Gang-hee’s Choi Gang-hee, Beyond Buzz represents a trend in which local stars rush to publish photo-oriented essay collections. Popular actors and celebrities are also making inroads into specialized fields. Korean actor Bae Yong Joon, for instance, published Discovering the Beauty of Korea, a travelogue that introduces the country’s hot spots. Kyobo Book Centre’s analysis shows that Korea n men preferred self-help books and women favored essays in 2009, illustrating the reading patterns of Koreans amidst an economic slump. By Han Mihwa
list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010 11
Books That Children Live By
About Family In the new millennium family is more important than ever. From the benevolent grandmother to the single father, to the friendly neighbor, children need allies on their side. Touching on universal themes and unique characteristics of Korean families, this selection of children’s books will delight.
Korean society, which still retains the remnants of Confucian ideology, has always placed great emphasis on the importance of family and its role in raising children. It was believed that family must be stable for the world to be at peace, and children were taught that filial piety was the foundation of becoming proper adults. Children were taught to be grateful to their ancestors, and the tradition of paying respect to one's parents in great ceremony was closely followed. Arnold Toynbee, upon his visit to South Korea in 1970, was so impressed by the extended family system he witnessed that he stated in an interview that if asked to take something into outer space, he would take the Korean family system. But when modern industrialization came to Korea, things began to change. The model of the extended family, which had formed the deep roots of farming communities, was scattered into the urban workplace. While farms became occupied mostly by the aging population, the city became the home of the nuclear family: the mother, father, and child. Criticism began to arise regarding the gender inequality that had marked Korean family culture, which had been influenced heavily by Confucian patriarchy. As women started to make headway into society, gender roles inside the family also started to change. Attention started to be paid to the rights of the individuals in the family. Yet despite these changes, family is still the most significant support group that protects the lives of Koreans today. The more intense and fierce the competition, the more people yearn for their home because home is the warmest space on earth, one of limitless capacity. The fact that grandmothers make such frequent appearances in Korean children's books is deeply connected with the Korean tradition of home. The grandmother has the ability to accept the 12 list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010
child as she is, to embrace, to comfort, and to heal her. While the social system preaches to children that they must study from their waking moment in order to defeat the competition, the grandmother does no such thing. The generous yet strict grandmother also symbolizes nature. Grandma’s Folk Dance narrates the story of the granddaughter Mindeullae, whose mother has left her with her grandmother on a remote island in order to make a living. Grandma, an energetic and funny woman, tries to assuage her granddaughter's loneliness by insisting that they live in joy, as if they were "folk dancing every day." Mindeullae is crushed when she receives news that her mother has remarried, but her grandmother, in her infinite love, erases that pain from her granddaughter's heart. The mother figure is often portrayed as the victim of selfsacrifice and as the target of the child’s yearning. Mother Pheasant tells the story of a pheasant that protects the life of her chicks by sacrificing herself in the heart of a forest fire. The tragic love of the mother hen who embraces her chicks as she withstands the heat of the fire is heartbreaking. The brush lines come alive on the page in this masterful work. There are many works that examine, too, the shadows that hang over one's family. Echo spells out the loneliness of a village boy who lives with his father and who misses his sister, who has married and moved away. There’s a Sea Horse Living in My Heart is about an adopted child by a famous couple who feels pain and resists the necessity of displaying a hypocritical picture of his harmonious family life. The suffering he faces until he succeeds in changing his parents and understanding the truth defies description. His struggle is one that many children, adopted like himself, suffer under the tradition of adhering to the importance of blood lineage. And Brother for Sale is a cute sibling rivalry story; it captures the jealous feelings that arise between siblings who can get so upset by their closest
competitors that they feel like selling them off. Not only does it showcase a natural and healthy kind of jealousy, but this book features a clever reversal whereupon a deeper love is discovered between siblings. Also, Dear Mrs. Astrid Lindgren is a book about a teenage girl who loves a friend, an older girl who works in the local bookstore, as much as she loves the members of her own family. While fewer families are able to care for and support their children in the growing competition of today's world, this book showcases neighborly love that is as strong as family love. One of Korea's New Year's traditions is the family gathering during which the year's resentments are cleared and a new and positive beginning can be embarked upon. New Clothes for New Year's Day paints, in full-bodied colors, two points of view: a boy and girl's excitement and anticipation in face of the New Year celebration. The form and color of families differ like the multi-colored silk jacket worn on New Year's Day. These books attest to the journey in search of the diversity and deep understanding of the Korean family, with the purpose of paving a path of mutual, warm encouragement.
By Kim Ji-eun 1. Mother Peasant Kwon Jeong-saeng, Little Mountain Publishing Co. 2009, 45p, ISBN 978-89-89646-48-8 7781
Kim Dong-sung; Illustrator: Lee Ju-hong Gilbut Children Publishing Co., Ltd. 2009, 36p, ISBN 978-89-8662-178-5
Oh Chae; Illustrator: Oh Seung-min Moonji Publishing Co., Ltd., 2009, 171p ISBN 978-89-320-1863-8
Lim Jeongja; Illustrator: Kim Youngsoo i-seum (mirae n culture group) 2006, 32p, ISBN 978-89-378-4166-8
Yoo Eun-sil; Illustrator: Kwon Sa-woo Changbi Publishers, Inc., 2005, 184p ISBN 978-89-364-4219-4
Grandma’s Folk Dance
Brother for Sale 6
Dear Mrs. Astrid Lindgren
6. New Clothes for New Year's Day Bae Hyun-ju, Sakyejul Publishing Ltd. 2007, 44p, ISBN 978-89-5828-199-3 (set) 7.
There’s a Sea Horse Living in My Heart Kim Ryeo-Ryeong, Munhakdongne Publishing Corp. 2007, 158p ISBN 978-89-546-0404-8
© Kim Dong-sung, 2009, Gilbut Children Publishing Co., Ltd.
list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010 13
Books That Children Live By
About School Like it or lump it, school transforms a child's life whether inside the classroom or out on the playground. This selection of books explores the myriad of ways children learn and grow at school.
W h i l e t h e t h e m e of s c ho ol a nd le a r n i n g might be sha red, t he books’ illustrations, their treatment of the theme and their form ref lect a diverse spectrum that cannot be framed in one single category. They are strikingly Korean, but at the same time contain universal sentiments that can offer readers from all over the world the opportunity to experience a new culture. These books also serve to inform readers that children share similar thoughts and anxieties even across oceans. In the picture book A Twisted Hair Band, little Yuni ends up in tears when she goes to kindergarten with short hair and pants, only to be mistaken for a boy. Yuni discovers her sister's twisted hair band, ties it in her hair and goes to play with her friends at school. She forgets her hair band one day and frets over it, but her friends think nothing of it. The way in which kindergarten children confront body-image issues and resolve these issues on their own is quite special. Her doll-like round face and eyes, nose and mouth brimming with kindness are sweet and lovely. 14 list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010
My Teacher’s Chips is one volume in the Poetry/Illustration Series put out by Changbi Publishers, and is an illustrated book of poetry written by a fourth grader. The book is a clever, humorous portrayal of a teacher who leisurely and deliberately eats through a bag of snacks while the classroom children look on with great yearning. The book ends triumphantly when the snacks are shared by the teacher and students. A Special Gift from Mommy is a picture book that is based on the author’s real experience. The mothers in a kindergarten class secretly stage a play. The process of preparing this play is described amusingly and in great detail. The picture book provides an eyeful with its sprawling layout that leaves no white space, complete with a diverse cast of characters and props. Mickey, the Painter recounts the story of Mousy who follows his mother to an art show and decides to become an artist. He meets Mr. Bear, who paints theater signboards for a living, and Bear tells him that he must “first draw in your heart, then imagine that your heart is paper and work away.” Hearing this, Mousy then creates his very own original work. This picture book teaches young readers about the art of drawing, and about the true nature of learning. Many children’s books also deal with school as their theme. School of Liars is about a secret, government-run school that teaches lies. The confrontations and solutions that take place
in this imaginary space are disclosed through a process of deduction. The book asks children to question truth, lies, and reality. In a nutshell, it is a “truth-like false world of falsesounding truth.” Mr. Umbrella’s Adventures is a collection of nine short stories that deal with a disabled child. The author of this book is an educator that instructs children with severe disabilities. The author captures these children, who are unable to attend regular school, with great realism. The power of this novel rests with its unflinching portrayal of these children's unique beauty. King or Beggar is a book of subversive imagination in which a popular children’s game having to do with Chinese food plays with hierarchical order through quick changes and transformation. Despite its short length, it is deeply philosophical. The text is enhanced by Goh Gyong-sook's illustrations, which won the Ragazzi Award in the 2006 Bologna Children’s Book Fair. Magic Poo-Man is by Song Eun, also known as the Korean René Goscinny for his ability to portray children's lives with humor and precision. A schoolchild too shy to go to the bathroom at school acquires knowledge and strength through the escapades of the wiry and energetic Magic Poo-Man, who is much like Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking.
By Yu Youngjin
1. My Teacher’s Chips Kim You-dae, Changbi Publishers, Inc. 2009, 33p, ISBN 978-89-364-5417-3 2. A Twisted Hair Band Lee Hyun-young, Sakyejul Publishing Ltd. 2008, 32p, ISBN 978-89-5828-155-9 3. A Special Gift from Mommy Han Taehee, Woongjin Think Big Co., Ltd. 2009, 32p, ISBN 978-89-01-10203-0 4. Mickey, the Painter Lee Ho- baik, BIR Publishing Co., Ltd. 2008, 80p, ISBN 978-89-491-0044-9
School of Liars
Jeon Seonghee; Illustrator: So Yunkyoung Munhakdongne Publishing Corp. 2009, 223p, ISBN 978-89-546-0962-3
6. Mr. Umbrella’s Adventures Gong Jin-ha, Chungnyunsa Publishing Co., Ltd. 2004, 199p, ISBN 89-7278-708-6 7. King or Beggar Kim Yeong-ju, Jaimimage Publishing Co. 2009, 42p, ISBN 978-89-86565-52-2 8. Magic Poo-Man Song Eun, Changbi Publishers, Inc. 2009, 100p, ISBN 978-89-364-5115-8
list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010 15
Books That Children Live By
About Folk Tales Old tales are treasure chests for childrenâ€™s books. The following books retell some of Koreaâ€™s most amusing time-tested stories, stories that have the ability to excite children even in todayâ€™s world.
No matter who or where they are, adults always want to grant their children the best that they can possibly offer. Or at least, what adults deem to be the best. It may not necessarily be that which is newest or most expensive. It may be what adults deem to be most precious to them when they were children, something that they received from their elders; that which is familiar, that which has matured over many years and which remains unadulterated, something that is not information or knowledge but wisdom. Is it possible to have a today without a yesterday, or a tomorrow without a today? Although society urges us to forget or cast away yesterday's things in favor of new things that come out each new day, children's books do no such thing. This is not to say that all things of the past are good, but that there is much good among the things of the past. Writers for children have gone through the pains of sifting through and finding these treasures, and it is absolutely crucial that an effort be made to breathe life into them and bring them back into the present. Children's books, for their part, respond and take joy in this passionate endeavor. It has always been the case that old tales are treasure chests for children's books. An hour at the children's book section at a Korean bookstore is enough time to realize that the tiger and the goblin are Korean folk tales' most prominent characters. They are frightening enough to scare children into hiding in their mother's laps, but these characters are made humorous by f laws that eventually lead to foiled plans. Red Bean Granny and the Tiger and The Sun and the Moon are representative Korean tales, and as such they form the foundation for many illustrated folktales. The unique characters and the attractive illustrations of these stories have secured their position as steady bestsellers in Korea over a long period of time. They combine a universal quality of storytelling with the unique 16 list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010
character of the storyteller to create a perfect harmony. Pumpkin Porridge Seller reveals a goblin that has traits peculiar to a Korean goblin. The story is amusing, but even more effective is the harmony created between the picture and the vertical calligraphy, and the effect is one that will capture the heart of the adult readers as well. Children eat, sleep, and play, and in this routine there blooms an age-old wisdom and joy. The board book Peek-a-boo with Twelve Animals celebrates the animals that symbolize the 12 years of the zodiac in Asian culture, and is the first friend that a baby can make. For those children who are accustomed to the Western culture of a fixed abode, a book like The Goddess of a Kitchen is a curiosity and a nostalgic tale about the kitchens of the past. Ceremonies such as the drawing up of fresh water for the family, praying for the health of the family, and holding a feast in the full moon in honor of the kitchen spirit for the safety and happiness of the home are perhaps playing out a resistance to the contemporary culture of instant food and gratification. A child waiting for his hospitalized grandfather goes on an imaginary quest in the book In Search of the Ten Symbols of Longevity. The book's artwork, which consists of a collage of traditional fabrics and needlework, is stunning. In The Folks in Fox-Lurking Village, a book of poetry by acclaimed poet Baik Suk, the carefully crafted illustrations narrate in great detail the North Korean customs of celebrating the New Year, customs which are hardly known in South Korea. This vision of a family reunited after a long separation is a moving one, and one that communicates the sadness and yearning caused by division. In today's world it is easy for children to understand nature as something that can be approached only through careful planning
and lengthy car-rides. But nature is not far away; it is the site of our lives. With the smallest of efforts one can discover this world that never sleeps, a world of infinite wonder. Come Play in My Yard is a record of events that take place in a house with a large yard, and in which life and play become one. It records a variety of enjoyable activities and events including the changing of the seasons, environmental games played between the author and the author's daughter, cooking activities, and gardening. In A Story of Three Mothers, a household of four generations of women gathers their strength 3
to plant soybeans. The book is sweet and funny, but it also impresses the reader with a sense of awe, as if what the reader were witnessing was the goddess Gaia herself. Playing with books of such wisdom will bring children to the physical realization that they are born of mothers who were also born of mothers. Inside every child lie the seeds of eternity. By Park Suk-kyoung
Pumpkin Porridge Seller
Lee Sang-gyo; Illustrator: Han Byeong-ho Kookminbooks. Co., Ltd., 2009, 34p ISBN 978-89-11-02381-3
2. In Search of the Ten Symbols of Longevity Choi Hyang-rang, Changbi Publishers, Inc. 2007, 34p, ISBN 89-364-5414-5 3.
The Sun and the Moon Song Jaechan; Illustrator: Lee Jong-mi Kookminbooks. Co., Ltd., 2007, 31p ISBN 978-89-11-02363-9
4. Red Bean Granny and the Tiger Jo Daein; Illustrator: Choi Sookhee, Borim Press 2009, 30p, ISBN 89-433-0259-2
5. Peek-a-boo with Twelve Animals Choi Sookhee, Borim Press, 2009, 20p ISBN 978-89-433-0498-0
The Folks in Fox-Lurking-Village
Baik Suk; Illustrator: Hong Seong-chan Changbi Publishers, Inc., 2007, 52p ISBN 978-89-364-5415-3
Moon Young-mi; Illustrator: Cho Mija Urikyoyuk Co. Ltd., 2007, 54p ISBN 978-89-8040-736-1
Come Play in My Yard
list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010 17
Books That Children Live By
About Friendship Children mature gradually as they meet, fight, and make peace with friends. These books celebrate how children learn about life through conversations with their colorful peers, and through the mutual understanding and respect that develops.
Books about friendship have always been popular. Children discover the strength of friendship in their books, and gather courage to make new friends. The language of friendship is universal; Korean children do not have any special formula for relationships. The strength in these books lies in the way that they stand up for children who may be possibly ostracized, and tell stories from their point of view. The authors of these books give voice to characters who have physical disabilities, or to those who did not receive support or comfort in their home, and grant these children friends. For what children need most of all is friends that will understand them. You, Me, and Everyone is a picture book about the beginning of all relationships in the world. All social relationships begin with the basic understanding that someone else exists beside oneself. The book is unique, both for its use of fantastical subject matter and for its display of needlework art. The artist took the thousand pieces of fabric he received from monksâ€™ robes and needled them together beautifully to create a sense of tranquility and mystery. Relationship is a picture book that recounts the friendship between an acorn and a leaf. An acorn carrying the seeds of a white oak falls to the ground, and weaves a relationship of trust and loyalty with the white oak tree leaves that diligently watch over and protect it from animals. Finally, with spring, the acorn bursts with white oak sprouts; life is born out of the friendship of the long winter days. The text by poet An Do-hyeon and the 18 list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010
delicate pictures by Lee Haery combine harmoniously in the depiction of this subtle tale. A Pot of Rice with the Frog Family is a picture book featuring the poems of Baik Suk, who was a renowned poet in the 1930s. His message is that we are not alone; and as long as we are not alone, we have little choice but to bond with others. The first step in this process is to extend a hand to those who have experienced hardships as well. Frog extends a helping hand to the firefly, the beetle, the grasshopper, and befriends them, until they all end up living under the same roof. Baik Suk easily spells out the truth of friendship in a readable style, and artist Kang Woo-gun brought these expressions to life in his simple yet engaging print engravings. Up Comes the Round Sun is a picture book about a child suffering from a muscular disease who yearns for friends and dreams of attending school. The central figure of this story cannot move a step without the help of the child's mother or wheelchair. Yearning for friends, the child goes to a garden of yellow flowers. The book ends with the image of the child in the wheelchair, surrounded by yellow flowers. The book will motivate any young reader to want to become this child's friend. It is this moving moment that can create friendship outside the binding of the book. The book Jjin-Jjingun and Dubbangdu recounts the friendship between a child with disabilities and a child without. The fact that
one of the children is disabled, however, is hardly raised in the book. The author's approach, which examines the differences between people that spring from their physical challenges, is progressive and refreshing. The reason these two children become friends is because neither has a father. Still, while their physical differences and the absence of a father brings them together, these factors do not stand in their way of leading a brave life. S ound s f rom All e y ways a nd S ec ret of the Neighborhood Photo Shop are picture books about friends and neighbors. The reason that Korean children are unable to make many friends is closely related to their overbooked schedules dictated by the education system in Korea. Children must attend after-school academic programs in order to meet friends in the first place. But in this book, a door leads to an alley where a child can meet and play with true friends. According to the book, to meet real friends you must pass through an alley; this was true for the main characterâ€™s grandfather, and true for the father. Reading these two books makes one think that it is not old neighborhoods that require renovation but rather children's friendships. Encyclopedia of Adolescence tells the story of friendships forged at the onset of adolescence. The book demonstrates the way in which children mature through their friendships, which are, at this age, more precious to them than their mothers. The book both helps with the understanding of young Koreansâ€™ lives, and at the same time the book can attract the empathy of adolescents from all over the world. The process of meeting, fighting, and making peace with friends is a strange and painful one, but also one that requires great courage. But when a friendship is struck between people who deeply understand each other, incomparable warmth is formed. Children's books about friends encourage even the most hesitant of children to understand that anyone can take part in this wonderful warmth. By Kim Ji-eun
1. Sounds from Alleyways Kim Jang-sung; Illustrator: Jung Ji-hye, Sakyejul Publishing Ltd. 2009, 30p, ISBN 978-89-5828-234-1 2. You, Me, and Everyone Sun Anna; Illustrator: Chung Hyun-joo, Samtoh Co., Ltd. 2009, 54p, ISBN 978-89-464-1644-4 3. Relationship Ahn Do-hyeon; Illustrator: Lee Haery, Gesunamu Publishing House 2006, 44p, ISBN 978-89-89654-28-9 4. Jjin-Jjingun and Dubbangdu Kim Yang-mee; Illustrator: Kim Joong-suk, Moonji Publishing Co., Ltd. 2009, 191p, ISBN 89-320-1699-2 5. Secret of the Neighborhood Photo Shop Chung Haekyoung, Nurimbo Publishing Co. 2009, 33p, ISBN 978-89-5876-100-6 6. Encyclopedia of Adolescence Kim Ok; Illustrator: Naomi Yang, Little Mountain Publishing Co. 2007, 195p, ISBN 978-89-89646-27-3
list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010 19
KLTI Grants for Prospective Publishers KLTI Overseas Marketing Grants
KLTI Overseas Publication Grants
Areas of Funding Publication marketing events and advertisements
Applicant Qualifications Any publisher who has signed a contract for the publishing rights of a Korean book. The book should be published by December 2010.
Applicant Qualifications Publishers who have published Korean books in translation within a year and are planning to hold promotional events. The event should be occur within 6 months following the final apprication deadline. Grant Amount - Roundtrip airfare and accommodation expenses for the author, expenses for events and advertisements, etc. - The amount will be determined by KLTI after due consideration of the marketing plan and scale. * The grant will be provided directly to the author or to the overseas publisher in two payments, before and after an event. How to Apply Register as a member on the website (www.koreanbooks.or.kr) and complete the online application form. Application Documents All documents should be scanned and uploaded on the application page of the website. 1. Introduction of the publisher, along with its history and past publications, including any previous books related to Korea 2. Breakdown of total event costs 3. A copy of the contract between the publisher and the translators 4. A copy of the contract between the publisher and the copyright holders 5. The translatorâ€™s resume Other Information to Include 1. Detailed event plan including a breakdown of anticipated expenses 2. Publication cost 3. Total cost of event (marketing or promotion) 4. Requested grant amount Application Schedule Submission period: 2010. 1. 1 ~ 2010. 9. 30 Grant notification: monthly from February to October Contact Name: Kim Ji-eun Email: email@example.com
Grant Amount - Part of the total publication expenses. - The amount varies depending on the publication cost and genre of the book. - The grant will be awarded after publication. How to Apply Register as a member on the website (www.koreanbooks.or.kr) and complete the online application form. Application Documents All documents should be scanned and submitted on the application page of the website. 1. Introduction of the publisher, along with its history and past publications, including any previous books related to Korea 2. Publication plan including the dates and budget for translation and publication in detail 3. A copy of the contract between the publisher and the translator 4. A copy of the contract between the publisher and the copyright holders 5. The translator's resume Application Schedule Submission period: 2010. 1. 1 ~ 2010. 9. 30 Grant notification: April, July, and October Contact Name: Kim Ji-eun Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
¡Hola!, Mexico! If I return to Mexico, it will be not because of Mexican tacos, nor will it be because of the lure of the wall murals by Diego Rivera and his fellow Mexican muralists. Of course, I still long for that taste, and try to imitate guacamole by adding the zest of a lemon to an avocado; and when I close my eyes I can picture José Clemente Orozco’s mural of the bride with burning eyes, and this image still brings my heart to a stop. Between November 23 and December 4, I participated in a 12-day tour that included a KLTI reading at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in Mexico City, as well as the book fair event in Guadalajara. Mexico City is an ancient site situated 2,240 meters above sea level. The first dawn after our arrival, I felt nauseas and dizzy, as if I’d just gotten off a boat. That seems to be one special way in which this city greets its visitors. From inside a moving vehicle you can spot the hills that indicate your position in the basin. In a single sweeping moment your vision is overwhelmed by the sight of an unbroken line of crowded houses. Most of them are impoverished, cement homes. You can count the number of painted houses on one hand. And the iron foundations used in the houses’ construction can be seen jutting out of the second-story rooftops. Our guide and chauffeur explained that this was a village of the less affluent. The people living there have usually left their country villages in search of work in the big city; when they fail, they eke out a living in the city’s outskirts. I assumed that they worked hard to save up, and when they had enough money, bought construction materials and added additional floors to their houses. I also presumed that they didn’t own the property and therefore could not sell, but that at the same time, that no one would come to evict them. But that night, I finally heard the real reason from a Mexican local; apparently, they leave their houses unfinished to avoid paying taxes. The houses are never completed. Guadalajara is a resort town where Mexico City’s youth like to travel to on the weekend. The Book Fair was held there for its 23rd year, now with the participation of 1,600 publishers from 40 different countries. It is easy to get lost in the Spanish and English sections of the fair. The booths, hundreds of them, all look the same. I got separated from my group on the first day, and felt like a lost child. I walked around the same area again and again. When I finally stopped for a moment, I found myself looking at a sign in Korean, and my surprise and joy was tremendous. It was a narrow booth run by two publishers and the Korea Literature Translation Institute. I tried to imagine what it must be like for people to get a taste of the Korean alphabet, hangeul, for the very first time: their first consonant and vowels, their first exposure to the different letter strokes. This fair, which has yet to include any publishers from China or Japan, has had a Korean booth now for four years in a row. After that, I passed that booth every single day. The booth served as my milepost until I became familiar with the enormous hall. And one day, I spotted a young Mexican carefully handling a Korean novel at the booth of the publisher Ediciones el Ermitaño, which has published dozens of translations of Korean literature. The youth leafed through a few pages of the book, hesitated for a moment, and then purchased it and disappeared. I imagined that this was the Mexican’s first Korean novel, and I felt happy to share this moment of the opening of a new world. If I return to Mexico, it will be because of the endless line of unfinished houses crowning the hilltops, and because of the memory of stumbling upon Korean in the sea of foreign languages at the Guadalajara Book Fair. Of course, the lure of that original taco delicacy and the beauty of the Mexican muralists will continue to draw my interest. By Ha Seong-nan * Ha Seong-nan is a novelist. Her works include Sapporo Inn, The Woman Next Door, and Wafers. She received the Dongin Literary Award, the Hankook Ilbo Literary Award, the Yi Su Literary Award, the Oh Young-su Literary Award, and the Contemporary Literary Award.
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The Indefinable Boundary of Fact and Fiction
The Novelist Kim Yeon-su Kim Yeon-su is a prolific writer, a recipient of many significant literary awards, with a number of faithful readers. His book, World’s End Girlfriend sold 40,000 copies within three months of its publication. JoongAng Ilbo reporter Shin Junebong, met with him.
Kim Yeon-su is at present overshadowed by big literary names such as Hwang Sok-yong, Yi Mun-yol, and Ko Un, but he certainly is at the top of the list for the subsequent generation of prominent writers in Korean literature. He was born in 1970, in Gimcheon, a medium-sized city located halfway between the capital city Seoul and Korea’s second largest city Busan. He was an English major in college and worked for a short time as a reporter for a woman’s magazine. He made his literary debut as a poet in 1993, and he published a novel the following year. He was initially a poet, but it is difficult to conclude what kind of influence this had on him. At any rate, in 2001, he began to garner recognition with a contentious full-length novel Goodbye, Mr. Yi Sang, for which he received the Dongsuh Literary Award. In fact, Kim went on to win all the major Korean literary prizes in the first decade of the 21st century. He received the Dongin Literary Award with his evidently autobiographical novel, When Still a Child, and the Daesan Literary Award in 2005 with I Am a Ghostwriter, which has come to characterize Kim’s writing style. In 2007, he was the recipient of Hwang Sun-won Literary Award for “The Comedian Who Went to the Moon,” and in 2009 he won the Yi Sang Literary Prize for his short story “Five Pleasures for Those Who Take Walks.” In spite of his splendid literary accomplishments, it looked as though Kim could not overcome the common fate of an artist; that is to say, notwithstanding lavish critical praise, he was viewed as a writer whose books sold in relatively small numbers. Then last year something major happened to him. World’s End Girlfriend, published in September, sold 40,000 copies within a short period of its publication. The number sold is significant, given the relatively short time period, but it also showed that Kim Yeon-su definitely had a steadfast readership. In light of the size
of the literary market of Korea, it is not an easy feat for a work of fiction to sell 40 to 50,000 copies. As one literary critic pointed out, if a writer can make a living solely from the royalties, it means the writer is no longer pressed to write for literary magazines, and the like, under great time pressure, thereby draining his creative energy. With these thoughts on my mind, I met with Kim Yeon-su last December around a time of heavy snowfall. He came to the interview near Seoul City Hall with an expression ready to fend off all authority and conventions, looking like a warrior for whom the pen is his weapon against the world. It turned out that Kim Yeon-su himself was deeply moved by the success of his short story collection, World’s End Girlfriend. He said, “They say that Koreans don’t read works of literature anymore but that doesn’t seem to be the case.” I asked him if Korean literature was in for another heyday, like in the 1980s, after a long stagnation. He replied by saying he wasn’t sure, but finds it remarkable that serious literature sells so well in Korea as compared to other countries. In effect, this way of thinking differs somewhat from most writers’ views of the Korean literary market. Many writers, whose first editions barely sell two or three thousand copies, would say that the system of “the poor get poorer, and the rich get richer” has gotten worse. Moreover, Kim Yeon-su added that the reading patterns of Korean readers are changing. He has many readers who are in their 30s, but unlike in the 1980s to 90s when people turned to books and through a vicarious reading experience tried to find an answer to important questions of life, they now read books like any other kind of cultural activity. To paraphrase the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, one of the things that could happen when the commodity aspect of literary works comes to the fore
“I perused the entire dictionary inside out until I found the right word, and changed my sentences several hundred times until I found it to my liking, not to mention doing thorough research. I tried my utmost to write an impeccable novel.” is that the reader’s taste becomes indicative of the individual’s socioeconomic class, level of education, and cultural background. So then the reader’s taste will become more diverse, and the most important thing will ultimately be how refined is the reader’s choice of books. Kim Yeon-su seemed to think that such a change is taking place in the Korean literary market. He said the standard of the Korean readers has gotten much higher than in the past; the 1.2 million copies sold of Shin Kyung-sook’s Please Look After Mom as well as his novels, both which are by no means easy reading, can be taken as evidence that readers comprehend the methodology and the historical tradition of Korean literature. Kim Yeon-su believes he has a sophisticated class of readers. He said they have grown older and more mature, reading his books for over 10 years. One reader, whom he met at a book reading, told the writer that he started dating when the full-length novel Whoever You are, No Matter How Lonely came out in 2007, and broke up when Song of the Night was published a year later. For this particular reader, the writings of Kim Yeon-su will remain entwined with his private memories. It is time to scrutinize Kim Yeon-su’s literature. What is it that keeps drawing readers to his books? Kim said he felt he had no sense of identity as a writer until the time when Twenty, his anthology of stories, was published in 2000: “I just didn’t know what to write or how.” Working as a reporter for a woman’s magazine in 1997 was a catalyst. “I realized it’s not an easy life out there after experiencing the harsh reality of the workplace. It was then that I decided to write seriously.” 24 list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010
The working hours of Korean laborers are notorious in the world for being among the longest. The profession of a reporter is considered the epitome of the “3Ds” [dirty, dangerous, and difficult]. The onerous act of earning his daily bread is what compelled him to turn to writing novels. “I perused the entire dictionary inside out until I found the right word, and changed my sentences several hundred times until I found it to my liking, not to mention doing thorough research. I tried my utmost to write an impeccable novel.” This change in writing style was also a consequence of the writer’s dissatisfaction with his previous novels. “My writing at that time could be described as a not fully understood Postmodernism. In order to come up with something new I tried many new approaches but I didn’t like them. I then made up my mind to write something that everyone could call a novel.” When Still a Child, an autobiographical book that was published in 2002, was a work that ref lected the writer’s aforementioned change. The short stories in this book, which are about his childhood experience, read like unfiltered essays. The sentences are straightforward with clear-cut meanings. An intricate plot, his specialty, is nowhere to be found. “The New York Bakery,” one of the short stories in this autobiographical book, offers his characteristic literary device that runs through his writing. It is a story about the declining business of a New York bakery, which was run by the protagonist’s parents. The narrator is a novelist from Gimcheon; in fact, it is Kim Yeonsu, himself. He makes his appearance in the story under his real name. It is as if the writer is saying, “Even if real names and events
are used, people will still read it as a novel.” If facts can become fiction, then conversely, it is possible that fiction can be read as “facts.” Goodbye, Mr. Yi Sang is a full-length novel about a search for the death mask and a single poem by the first modernist writer and poet in Korean literature. It shows Kim’s characteristic style of interrogating the problematic, indefinable boundary of fact versus fiction, and truth versus lies. The novel was written on the basis of extensive research done on Yi’s entire works, perusing all kinds of records, investigative materials, and written records to pose the question of who really made the death mask of Yi Sang. The answer proffered by the novel is that each person who was at the making of the death mask remembers it differently. The message of the novel skirts around the literal question of whether or not the death mask really exists in order to say that the problem is not whether it is real or unreal, but that believing in its existence is what makes it real. Kim Yeon-su fills in the gaps of the official history with his imagination, which markedly differentiates him from those who formulate stories by augmenting the historical facts into what is called “faction” (half fact, half fiction). His writing about modern history raises the issue that official textbooks do not record all history. He asserts, too, that through the selection and arrangement of facts, the actual reality can be fabricated into any form. To get the optimum effect closest to reality, he says, one needs to do a wide range of research. Three of his works pose the question about the potentiality of truth being able to be disseminated from the boundary of fact and fiction. His full-length novel Song of the Night, about the internal strife of the Minsaengdan faction in the Joseon group, is set against the Manchurian backdrop during the Korean colonial period of the 1930s; Whoever You Are, No Matter How Lonely delves into 1990s Korea through a character who is sent to Berlin by the leaders of the student movement but fails to meet with his North Korean counterpart as a result of the dissolution of the South Korean student leadership; the short story “If I Can Traverse the Snow-covered Mountain After One More Month” focuses in on the final moments of the Mount Nanga Parbat expedition. Kim’s constructed literary world has much to do with the socio-political reality of the 1980s and 90s that he witnessed. He said, “Around 1992, I felt as though we [student activists] had been completely defeated.” It was at the final leg of the era when the hitherto intense student movement of the 1980s had lost its momentum following the collapse of the socialist countries, and there was a series of student self-immolations, in the so-called age of the self-immolating Korean political state. He began to question his belief that there must somewhere exist a truthful world, after witnessing how the same death could be rendered totally senseless on one hand, or, on the other hand, could have a significant historical meaning. As a result, he began to think, “We are meant to lose. Everyone gets defeated. We cannot know the Truth. But mere recording of it can be a way of communication and means of solace.” It is a passage revealing the roots of his novels. Let’s put it all together. Kim Yeon-su is a writer who takes a Borges-like approach to the dichotomy of fact and fiction, in the space-time of modern Korea. He also does an incredible amount of research and writes in a f luid style. That is why, to know contemporary Korean literature, one must read the novels of Kim Yeon-su. Not an insignificant number of sophisticated Korean readers are already “consuming” his books. By Shin Junebong (reporter for the JoongAng Ilbo)
reporter Shin Junebong and novelist Kim Yeon-su
1. Goodbye, Mr. Yi Sang Kim Yeon-su, Munhakdongne Publishing Corp. 2001, 277p, ISBN 89-8281-358-6 2. When Still a Child Kim Yeon-su, Munhakdongne Publishing Corp. 2002, 287p, ISBN 89-8281-593-7 3. Five Pleasures of Those Who Take Walks Kim Yeon-su, Munhak Sasang Inc. 2009, 361p, ISBN 978-89-701-2835-1
4. Song of the Night Kim Yeon-su, Moonji Publishing Co., Ltd. 2008, 345p, ISBN 978-89-320-1900-0 5. Whoever You Are, No Matter How Lonely Kim Yeon-su, Munhakdongne Publishing Corp. 2007, 391p, ISBN 978-89-546-0398-0 6. I Am a Ghostwriter Kim Yeon-su, Changbi Publishers, Inc. 2005, 268p, ISBN 978-89-364-3685-8
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It was December 24, 2000, eighteen years after a man made his journey into the desert. I was invited to a party by an older alumnus friend in celebration of his recent appointment as full-time professor. There, I saw a woman with a perm, which brought to mind those Cabbage Patch dolls in America that had been such a sensation when I was little. Naturally, I ended up mentioning the Cabbage Patch dolls, which reminded me of ugly American girls, and our conversation led to various events of the early 1980s (when the dolls had been popular), and I ended up recalling a story about a boxer who’d fought desperately for the title of Lightweight World Champion in that city of delights in Nevada, only
The Comedian Who Went to the Moon
to end up brain-dead. It was Mike Tyson who said, in something like hip-hop rhyme, “Other than boxing, everything is so boring,” I drunkenly imitated him, in something like hip-hop rhyme. “Other than boooxing,
World's End Girlfriend
everything is so boooring.” I was a bit dubious of my
Kim Yeon-su, Munhakdongne Publishing Corp., 2009, 318p ISBN 978-89-546-0882-4
own behavior, since it wasn’t like me at all to joke
“The Comedian Who Went to the Moon” is a novella about a woman’s search for her father, a comedian who vanished at the height of his popularity. It won the 2007 Hwang Sun-won Literary Award, and was included in Kim’s short story collection, World’s End Girlfriend, which was published in September of 2009. Below is an excerpt from the beginning of the book.
26 list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010
around like that in front of strangers. Soon after, the woman with the cabbage head said, “Do you think you could turn that into a novel?” Only then did I realize that she was the reason for my unusual behavior. “What do you mean?” “That boxer. The guy who died in Las Vegas. Could you turn his suffering into a novel?” “Novels don’t deal with expressing suffering
directly. Essays do that. Writing a novel is an act
you in every imaginable way, but you still love her
of taking the suffering that the author knows and
and want her, what can you do about it? That’s my
turning it into story. If I can understand the suffering
relationship with boxing.” It’s possible that everything
of the boxer who senses his impending death, then I
started from this.
can write it into a novel.” “Let me ask it another way then. Do you understand suffering?” “A novelist’s suffering is when he can’t sell his books because readers can’t understand them.”
No more than 10 minutes after it became obvious that she knew I was a novelist, I became aware of a strange warmth every time I looked in her direction. Every time I collected more information about her, through what other people said or what she said
People around us burst into laughter.
herself, the heat became a little more intense. She was
“It’s no laughing matter.”
a high school classmate of my alumni friend’s wife,
“Hey, then you’re sufficiently qualified to write
and a producer at a radio station. We were the same
about that boxer,” my alumni friend butted in to say.
age. As midnight approached and flakes of snow fell
“No, no. I’m one of those novelists who don’t
with indescribable beauty, my face was glowing red
know the meaning of suffering,” I said, tongue-in-
like the full moon on the 15th day of the new year,
tinged with the afterimage of children playing with
The lady with the cabbage head said to me, “I have a feeling that sooner or later, you’re going to end
rings of flame. Part of it was my drunkenness. Part of it the warmth.
up writing about that boxer.” “Well, are you saying I’m going to understand
Translated by Jae Won Chung
suffering sooner or later? Or that you’ll show me?” We exchanged meaninful looks. I didn’t know what kind of time frame she had in mind when she said “sooner or later,” but as you can see, I’m writing a novel about a boxer, so perhaps I’ve learned a little something about suffering by now? It was the Heavyweight World Champion Floyd Patterson who said, “It’s a little like falling in love with a woman.” He added, “It doesn’t matter if the woman is untrustworthy, mean, or savage. If she keeps hurting
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The E-Book Will Not Save Publishing— But You Can iriver’s e-book story
The e-book that shook America last year is preparing to expand its international audience. As we enter the era of the e-book, will the physical book lose its place? We listened to Publishers Weekly editor Andrew Richard Albanese’s thoughts on e-books. In 1990, while a young editorial assistant at Penguin USA, I had the honor of spending an afternoon and evening with one of my heroes, the novelist Ken Kesey, the award-winning author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Kesey was in New York to put the finishing touches on his new book, Sailor Song, working with his editor David Stanford at Viking, and to do a sold-out reading in Central Park. That afternoon, as we relaxed in Kesey’s hotel room, the author explained to us why he chose to write using a typewriter rather than a word processor, at the time still a relatively new invention, even though he owned one. “If I want to move passages,” he explained, “I can just cut them and paste them right where I want them to go.” He meant literally—he showed us the scissors, and the paste. Of course, once Kesey delivered his final, cut and pasted manuscript, the publisher paid someone to retype it onto a computer. A few weeks later, I had another professional awakening regarding technology when I noticed that the unsolicited submissions pile on my desk had grown significantly larger—that is, the manuscripts themselves had grown noticeably longer. It dawned on me that, at one point in our literary history, the machinery itself weeded out would-be authors. Few writers were so committed to write their extended tracts longhand on legal pads, for example. Other would-be Hemingways were defeated by the annoyance of messy typewriter ribbons, the incessant clack of keys, the cost of paper, correction fluids and other messy writing and rewriting necessities. With the word processor, however, all that changed. And with the click-and-publish world of the Internet, it has changed even more. But on one crazy day in 1990, I found myself inundated with enormous manuscripts, with pages still attached to one
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another, printed in difficult to read dot-matrix fonts that grew fainter and fainter as the manuscript wore on, and the printer wore down. In one of those rare confluences of bad timing, the word processor also happened to emerge around the same time that cheap, secure mail services like Fed Ex were being marketed to individuals and not just to businesses. I was now routinely called to the reception area to sign for unsolicited 1,000-page manuscripts—and within a few days, without fail, the authors would telephone, having confirmed with Fed Ex, that I had signed for the package. “Have you read my book?” they’d inevitably, breathlessly ask. Technology, I told my boss, was going to kill me. She laughed, and so did I, but two decades later that statement doesn’t seem quite so funny. In America, publishers today are feeling real pain. In 2009, the publishing and media industries in America shed as much as 10 percent of its workforce, and from what I learned at the 2009 Paju Book City Summit, Korean publishers are experiencing the very kind of same pain, if not greater. Over the course of my visit to Korea in November, I spoke with many dedicated Korean publishers who were genuinely fearful of what the future holds for them. I was impressed by their love for books. And I was sorry that I had little to say of comfort. In America, publishers are cautiously looking to 2010 as the year things might finally start to turn around—they point to the Amazon Kindle, to the gaudy, triple-digit growth rates in e-book sales, and they fantasize about what a mysterious, as yet unrealized rumored Apple reading device, might do for their bottom lines. But I’ll spare you the suspense: the e-book will not save publishing. In fact, let’s end the e-book hype right now—let’s resolve to retire the term “e-book” as a virtual antique that hearkens back to a distant age of slow modems and dial-up. Let’s acknowledge that we are now a generation away from serving readers who will never know a world where books couldn’t be accessed electronically and won’t understand what it means to append the letter “e” to anything. Let’s take a moment to remember that the book has endured for centuries—that the whole of human culture as we know it has been recorded in books. While I cannot predict how much longer the book’s reign of dominance will last, I can say with confidence that the book will long outlive the “e-book.” Not because books do not have a place on the Internet—they do—but because, at its root, the “e-book” as envisioned so far shorts both the Internet’s central place in our information, communication, and entertainment landscape, and the book as a physical object whose appeal goes well beyond the information contained in its pages. The e-book, and the e-readers we are creating to access them, are transitional technologies at best. And, so far, very bad transitional technology, because neither e-books nor e-readers envision or anticipate a future for either books or the Internet as much as they seek to impose a failing, old-media business model on to future generations of digital consumers. The key to a bright book publishing future is not in railroading readers toward some lackluster new product you think you can control, but to acknowledge that a book is still a book, whether it is pulled off a shelf, a portable device, a phone, a personal printer, or a Printon-Demand machine. It is time to embrace a future where books can—and must—be available to be read, searched, browsed, complemented, supplemented, expanded, sliced, diced, and served any way we wish, anywhere, any time, to any device, electronic or analog.
If you think your future depends upon forcing readers to use specific formats or platforms you define, or pushing them through clunky interfaces, arcane registration or authentication practices, requiring invasive DRM-laden plug-ins or odious clickon licenses, you’re lost. If the brief history of the Internet has told us anything so far, it is that a one user-generated widget cooked up by a college dropout in his parents’ basement can trump any five-year plan you’ve drafted in your boardroom. For some, that awesome power represents opportunity and democratization. To others, it feels more like mob rule. For all of us, however, it’s the new market reality. Of course, it isn’t hard to understand why publishers today are so nervous about what the digital future holds. The challenges are very real. People are buying fewer books and our readers’ attention is now fragmented by the Web. And digital piracy seems to be everyone’s main concern—which I find puzzling. Modern publishing and bookselling industries arose over the past two centuries because they fostered communication. They served a crucial role in bringing creative works to marker. But it was never the industry’s primary job—and it is not your primary job now—to throttle that communication. Yet, as we enter the information age, publishers seem intent to move away from a system where printed books were once bought, sold, resold, lent, archived, passed on to future generations—in a word, owned—to a system—where information in the ether is licensed, tracked, monitored, tolled—in essence, rented—all because of piracy fears. That kind of thinking represents a seismic shift in values—but worse, it represents potentially fatal lack of vision. As the American blogger Mike Shatzkin once said, you can still insist on being a gatekeeper in the digital realm, but what’s the point if there are no fences? The good news for book publishers is that they have had the benefit of watching other industries take the digital plunge ahead of them. The music industry and the newspaper industry in America, for example, have been at the tip of the digital spear— and they have the blood on their hands to prove it. But despite the rough transition, can anyone truly say that in the digital age, news or music is suffering? By any meaningful measure, there is more music from more places being made and heard than ever before. And I can now read the news from Seoul, along with my New York Times, and get alerts and articles right to my phone. Isn’t the long-term promise behind these developments greater than any short-term pain? Not, of course, to those now caught between two worlds. I can’t promise that it won’t get worse before it gets better for the book industry. But it is unfathomable to me that in the Internet age, when more information is being created, transferred, and yes, sold, to more people than ever before in history, an era when storytelling and journalism are at a premium, that books and book publishing will not only survive, but thrive. The key is to stop tilting at digital windmills, and to take this historic opportunity to deeply re-think what your real value is. After all, technological change is the only constant. Whether it is great novelists like Ken Kesey working on a typewriter, or the unknown author working on a word processor –the future lies in the cultivating the inspiration that animates them both. By Andrew Richard Albanese (feature editor and senior writer for Publishers Weekly)
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30 list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010
World Literature Today Introduces Korean Literature Highlighting the Presence of Korean Literature Within the Frame of World Literature
World Literature Today, a renowned bimonthly literary magazine, introduced contemporary Korean literature as a special feature in its Jan/Feb 2010 issue. Eun-Gwi Chung, an English literature scholar in Korea who co-edited this special feature, shares her thoughts. How to position Korean literature in the scene of world literature? Though Korean literature translation has been flourishing with the endeavors of translators, scholars, a few foundations, and the support of KLTI in recent years, Korean literature in North America still tends to be remote and marginalized. Academic research on Korean literature also has a relatively short history. It is not surprising that the channel for common readers in the English-speaking world to meet contemporary Korean literature has been very limited. Outside of separate volumes of translation works, Azalea: Journal of Korean Literature and Culture (published by Harvard University), New Writing from Korea (published by KLTI), and list (published by KLTI), have been the rare, valuable chances for readers to regularly meet contemporary Korean literature. “Korea Reunified?” World Literature Today's Special Section (Jan/Feb 2010) means a lot in a sense that it takes an accessible form for the reading public, highlighting the presence of Korean literature within the frame of world literature. It was a long-held project. When Jonathan Stalling first proposed the project, I responded in a very simple phrase, "Wow! Incredible!” Having some special pages for Korean literature in World Literature Today, a highly respected bi-monthly journal with a long history, would be a good chance for us to introduce Korean literature to a larger readership. And then, I became a little bit embarrassed with questions such as “How can you represent Korean literature? What is Korean Literature?” Korean literature has always been alive in vigorous voices and various shapes. The irony is that it is not alive in many other countries where it remains unknown. It should be discovered and rediscovered through different forms of language for readers outside Korea. In an era when words like transnational and global culture are phrases on everybody's lips, Korean literature still seems to stand hidden in the discourse of world literature. How can we pull it out of its geographical boundaries and linguistic barriers? How is it possible for us to provide readers the opportunities to meet and enjoy the contemporaneity of Korean literature? With these never-ending questions, I was lucky to meet wonderful scholars and translators who can succinctly elucidate the features of contemporary Korean
literature. We were also favored with moral and financial support from KLTI, which helped us a lot from the beginning to the end of the project. Brother Anthony, a wonderful translator, leads readers to revisit the world of Ko Un's poetic world. Hwang Jongyon's poised and tactful critique on contemporary Korean novels provides us the chance to rethink Korean literature as world literature. Yoo Hui-sok's essay kindly invites readers to reflect on the historical meaning of Shin Kyung-sook's 2008 novel Please Look After Mom. With the beautiful poems of Mun Taejun and Shim Bo-seon, translated by Peter Lee, I tried to share my snapshot of some scenes of contemporary Korean poetry with readers. Rob Vollmar's review essay on Korean manhwa sheds light on the popular, but long-neglected genre. Rethinking the process, now I feel that it was a challenge rather than just a good opportunity, which tried our patience and demanded decisions, visions, and revisions. Different positions as editors, writers, and translators made me rethink the nature of the production and distribution of creative works and the discourse surrounding these works. After all, by combining critical readings of literary works and translation of some creative works, this special section provides readers a landscape of current Korean literature. Behind all the endeavors to capture the current movements of contemporary Korean literature, was Jonathan Stalling, the assistant editor of World Literature Today. So dear readers, our tour is not over. In the days that Korea is not unified as a nation and culture, we might have a chance to rethink the landscape of Korean literature as a reunified voice in world literature in all its vigorous colors and voices. I believe this will be another door that generates a lively conversation on Korean literature and culture in our everyday lives as well as the literary universe. By Eun-Gwi Chung (professor, Inha University, Department of English Language and Literature)
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There a Petal Silently Falls
Keen and Bold Vision There a Petal Silently Falls: Three Stories Ch’oe Yun, translated by Bruce Fulton & Ju-Chan Fulton, Columbia University Press, 2008
Ch’oe Yun’s short story collection published by Columbia University Press was highly praised by the American media. Columbia Press editor Jennifer Crewe introduces the title story “There a Petal Silently Falls” in the following review.
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Columbia University Press has a long history of publishing literary works from Asia in translation. For many years the modern novels on our list were translations from Chinese and Japanese fiction. Recently, with the help of KLTI, we have begun to add Korean books to our list. One of the first works of Korean fiction we published was There a Petal Silently Falls: Three Stories by Ch’oe Yun, translated by Bruce and Ju-Chan Fulton. In addition to the title story, the book includes “Whisper Yet,” and “The ThirteenCent Flower.” It is a very strong collection, and has received excellent reviews in the American press. “Everything about Ch’oe Yun’s work is brilliant,” is the last line of the Publishers Weekly review. I was drawn to this book, particularly the title story, because of the subtle and poignant manner in which Ch’oe depicts the trauma her heroine has experienced. Even an English-language reader with no knowledge of the Gwangju massacre of May 1980 understands clearly that the author is doing something daring and new here. She interweaves three distinct points of view in her narrative. The first presents the first-person inner thoughts of the teenage heroine who has seen her mother gunned down before her eyes, and whose brother has already been killed. As a result of these horrific events, the girl has become deranged. The second is the third-person narrative of a construction worker who rapes the girl after she begins to follow him, and who beats her, but who ultimately gives her shelter and food and begins to grow concerned about her. The third point of view is that of a group of former classmates of the girl’s dead brother. They try to find the girl who, starving and insane, has been wandering the countryside and small villages in search of her brother’s grave and some kind of meaning to the catastrophic turn her life has taken. No specific details of the historical events that precipitated the girl’s predicament are provided by Ch’oe, but the reader comes away from the story with a strong sense of the author’s critique of political repression and state violence, as well as sanctioned violence against women. Her very indirect approach coupled with highly literary, haunting prose seems to make her message stronger than if she had been more specific and factual. The stories in this book are stunning, and they will be read by Americans and other readers of English who are interested in contemporary fiction, particularly Korean fiction, but they are also very helpful to anyone who wishes to gain an understanding of postcolonial South Korea, Cold War history in an Asian country, or modern Korean politics and human rights, and it is my hope that professors of modern Korean history will urge their students to read them. I cannot close without commenting on the translation by Bruce and Ju-Chan Fulton. The literary quality of the prose in English is excellent and seamless. The Daesan Foundation in Seoul obviously agrees, as it has awarded the Fultons its translation prize for this book. By Jennifer Crewe (editorial director of Columbia University Press)
The House with a Deep Yard
A Classic Work Reviving History The House with a Deep Yard Kim Won-il, translated by Kim Taicheng China Social Sciences Press, 2009
The House with a Deep Yard by Kim Won-il, published in 2009 by the China Social Sciences Press, is a work that deftly reveals the social realities of Korea in the wake of the Korean War, providing readers with an opportunity to learn about the history and realities of Korea. The wounds and brutal reality resulting from the war are vividly revived through a look into the daily lives of refugees after the war. The Korean War, which broke out on the Korean peninsula in 1950, had a deep impact on Korean society, as well as a direct impact on Chinese society, and has left people with vivid memories. The House with a Deep Yard, with its adroit, true-to-life depiction of the social realities of Korea after the war, is a major work representing the Korean War novels that serve as a window through which Chinese readers may learn of the recent history. The China Social Sciences Press is a large, comprehensive publishing house, established and run by the China Academy of Social Sciences, the most authoritative academic institution in China. The press publishes outstanding works by the China Academy of Social Sciences, the philosophical, social, scientific, and cultural circles of China, and Chinese translations of important books from abroad on humanities and science. The
press mainly focuses on publishing highly academic works, and general literature with emphasis on ideology, culture, and intellect. It maintains copyright and trade partnerships with dozens of countries and regions around the world. Thus far, it has published 7,500 books, and continues to publish about 700 books annually. Many of the works are the result of projects jointly executed by the China Academy of Social Sciences and various nations, and also the accomplishments of the finest scholars in China. Various series, including the China of the Day series, the Anthology of Scholars of the China Academy of Social Sciences series, the Library of Doctoral Dissertations on Chinese Social Sciences series, and the International Encyclopedia series, have been published by the press, as well as translations of works from abroad, including the Cambridge World History series, the Economics of the Times series, the Masterpieces of Economic Management series, the Modern Western Ideology series, the Basics of Western Learning series (100 volumes in English), and Joseon: Our First Defeat. About 200 of the works published were the recipient of various awards, including publication and literary awards on a national level, and other awards of excellence. China and Korea have geological proximity, and many other things in common including a far-reaching history of cultural exchanges. The recent rush of cultural exchanges between the two countries has provided opportunities for progress for both countries. Knowledge of the past is vital in understanding the present and anticipating the future. The House with a Deep Yard, presents readers with a vivid depiction of a horrific history. It shows the grave impact of the war on Korean society and its people, and provides a valuable opportunity to understand the history and realities of Korea. As a war novel, The House with a Deep Yard shows a cross section of Korean society after the war, by portraying typical figures in a typical environment through a look into the everyday life of refugees after the war, instead of explicit descriptions of bloody warfare. The book depicts a large front yard with a deep dent in the ground; a tiny room in which a refugee family lives, with the father missing since the outbreak of the war; a family of a disabled veteran, wounded in war; another family, who comes down to the southernmost part of Korea to find a way to survive; and a wealthy family who owns a large tile-roofed house sitting atop five stone steps. The vast yard shared by the wealthy and the poor refugees reveals the typical but complicated aspects of Korean society at the time with a cast of 20 people from different backgrounds and occupations, including a wealthy capitalist, a disabled veteran, a housewife, a merchant, a revolutionary, and a newspaper boy. Through a boyâ€™s unique point of view, the novel describes in minute detail the miserable and impoverished lives of refugees after the war. The House with a Deep Yard, autobiographical in nature, resonates with readers with its objective depiction of brutal reality, portraying in a lyrical way the wounds of the war through the perspective and experiences of the young, yet innocent boy, who had to give up his education and become a newspaper boy under the pressures of reality. The style of realism and captivating narration employed in the novel reveal the compassion in the heart of the author, and his thoughts on issues common to mankind, such as war and survival. In this lies the reason we seek to introduce to readers this classic work reviving history. By Kim Taicheng (translator of The House with a Deep Yard), Men Xiaowei (editor of China Social Sciences Press)
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Who Ate Up All the Shinga?
The Loss of Innocence
Who Ate Up All the Shinga? Park Wan-suh, translated by Yu Young-nan & Stephen Epstein Columbia University Press, 2009
Pak Wan-suh’s autobiographical novel Who Ate Up All the Shinga? offers an intriguing and highly personalized insight into one of the most turbulent periods in modern Korean history, and for this reason alone this translation is a highly welcome addition to the growing number of Korean literary works available in English. Charting Park’s own childhood and formative years in late colonial Korea, as well as her experiences of surviving the early part of the Korean War (1950-53), this autobiography also emerges as an apologia of a kind for the often-confused national politics of the period. While the English language translation (perhaps inevitably) does not always entirely capture the playful tone of the original Korean text, Who Ate Up All the Shinga? makes illuminating reading for non-Korean audiences because of the insights it offers to this period in Korean history. Moreover, as the narrative centers by and large on the often-fraught relationship between the author and her mother and so taps into the universal theme of mother-daughter relationships. The novel itself requires very little (if any) prior knowledge of Korean history or culture, making it all the more accessible for a wide reading audience. While Park has sometimes been described as ‘the auntie next door’ because of her appealing chatty narrative style, the protagonist of this novel emerges as quite the opposite as she takes the reader through experiences that eventually drove her to write literary fiction. The autobiographical element of the story affords a certain degree of reliability to Park's account of what happened to her, yet there is something about both Park’s narrative focus 34 list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010
and the style of telling that puts the reader at ease about any possible narrative intention. She never pretends to tell the truth about the colonial experience or why the war broke out. At the same time (and often at odds with the way in which many history books emphasize the overarching influence of nationalist movements in Korea of this period), Park writes very candidly about her own mother’s lack of enthusiasm for Korean nationalist politics, explaining how for the majority of Korean people like her mother such things were simply beyond their realm of concern: “Mother was an ordinary woman. Envisioning a sovereign destiny for Korea lay far beyond her.” Park’s own initial affinity with the leftist political thought in the aftermath of the liberation from Japanese colonialism is also laid bare in this novel, inviting the reader to consider how easily and without any sinister reason people during this period gravitated toward either side of the political spectrum, and often more because of some immediate practical concern rather than because of some deep-rooted political conviction. W hile there is therefore a distinct sense that most people around the author appeared to have lacked a clear sense of national consciousness, there is something very affective about the way this book also highlights what ‘Koreanness’ meant for those less aware of modern national identity discourses around this time. In Park’s narrative, this ‘Koreanness’ is a simple (and in some ways innocent) awareness of an individual’s inextricable connection with one’s family, and the physical land and nature that lives and breathes with the people who nurture it and live off its yield. Essentially then, the story describes the loss of, or perhaps more accurately the uprooting of one family from those origins through the process of urbanization, as well as through political and social upheavals that the family is caught up in. It is also within this context that the shinga plant of the book title becomes a metaphor of the kind of ‘Koreanness’ that perhaps existed in places like Park’s home village before the war, and which can no longer be rediscovered but simply yearned for as a childhood memory of a kind. The author describes how as a child she would snack on the tender leaves of a shinga plant that grew on the hills near her natal home, and at the beginning of her account shinga is found in abundance in the countryside where she lives. However, when she is taken to live in Seoul by her ambitious, yet well-meaning mother, she discovers that no shinga can be found growing on the hills that surround Seoul: “I wonder who ate up all that shinga that used to be so abundant?” she muses. The tone of this question is not accusing in the least, nor does the question really demand an answer. Yet there is a sense that the question itself begs to be asked, since the absence of shinga is still significant enough to be so conspicuous. It is telling that toward the end of the story shinga is no longer mentioned. While rice is necessary for survival and the constant lack of rice is frequently referred to in the closing chapters of the story, shinga is not. The absence of any reference to it thus highlights, rather poignantly, how human beings when faced with utter destitution, revert to a survival mode that affords little respect for bygone times. In some ways then, Who Ate Up All the Shinga? is essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand the historical background that created the mindset that drove South Korea to become a major economic power in less than 50 years from where the author chooses to end her account: stranded in deserted and occupied Seoul, but resolved to survive. And having not only survived but succeeded, it is telling that the author chose to have shinga as the metaphor of the lost way of living that enshrines the title of the book itself: not essential to survival, but still at the heart of the memories that came to inform Park Wan-suh's later work. By Joanna K. Elfving-Hwang (visiting lecturer in Korean Literature at the University of Sheffield, U.K.)
Why Publish Korean Comics in France? Editor Nadia Gibert of Les Éditions Casterman talks about Korean comics and comic artists. Les Éditions Casterman has introduced numerous popular Korean comics to France, such as The Color of Earth and Red Bicycle.
What is the motivation for publishers to promote Korean comics in a country such as France, which has its own long history of comics? It is first and foremost the talent and originality of Korean comic artists. There also seems to be quite a number of young Korean artists eager to tell stories of their country, their history. Korea has a rather tragic, tumultuous past. Young Korean comic artists and Korean artists on the whole have a keen interest in telling Korea’s story to foreigners. The good and evil of man is depicted well in their works, as it is the case with artists from other countries. Added to these depictions are the stories of everyday life and interpersonal relationships that give readers a better picture of Koreans’ musings and sentiments. Korean comic artists have a unique graphic style. They are distinct from western styles, but not completely alienating. Some artists adjust their styles to serve the story and sometimes change styles to create desired effects. French readers find this innovative because French comic artists generally do not alter their styles for the sake of the story. This is evidence of the rich graphic palette Korean artists work with. Comics are a universal art form, one that should allow the reader to feel the emotions and joys of encountering a new story regardless of his or her origin. Korean artists are also very open to working with French writers, and this generates much more interesting work because it enriches the medium as each country brings its own style to the page to construct stories that are always very eclectic. Some Korean artists work with the French readers in mind from the start. This is a very noble move, since these artists must then take the risk of thinking and imagining in a new way for the sake of readers who are different from the readers the artist is used to. It takes a long time to create a new genre. Readers need time to become familiar with the genre and to be convinced that it is possible for them to be moved by something they do not know. Les Éditions Casterman believes in the potential of Korean artists and intends to continue introducing Korean works to the French readership. Publications are long-term projects. The work of the editor is to connect readers to diverse modes of expression that exist in the world. French magazine reviews of O Yeong-jin's Visitor from the South
By Nadia Gibert (editor of Les Éditions Casterman)
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The Last Autumn Love
The Extraordinary in the Ordinary The Last Autumn Love and Other Short Stories Oh Jeong-hee, translated by Marzena Stefanska Kwiaty Orientu, 2009
After the Poland publisher Kwiaty Orientu published Oh Jeong-hee’s The Last Autumn Love and Other Short Stories last August, the same publisher, located in Warsaw, will publish Oh’s novel Bird this spring. Editor Edyta Matejko-Paszkowska of Kwaity Orientu discusses Oh’s work. Established in 2007, Kwiaty Orientu, meaning “Flowers of the Orient,” (www.kwiatyorientu.com) is the only publishing house in Poland fully dedicated to Korean literature. Korea, and its fascinating literature and unique culture, are still relatively undiscovered in Poland when compared to Japan, China, even Vietnam, and we are making efforts to popularize Korea’s literature and culture and to put it on the map. The publishing roadmap includes all kinds of books about history, geography, religion, even Korean cuisine, as well as Korean literature and poetry for adults and youth readers. In order to promote Korean culture and literature, “Flowers of the Orient” regularly organizes many events in museums, bookstores, and at universities. In May, thanks to the Korea Literature Translation Institute, in cooperation with the Korean Departments at the University of Warsaw and Poznan University, the Korean Cultural Center, and Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Warsaw, we organized Kim Youngha and Kim Huran’s visit in Warsaw. The three days’ stay was followed by a literary competition for writing an essay related to Korean literature. Flowers of the Orient has published four books so far. Kimchi, Anyone? by Lena Swiadek (March 2008); the story “A Day in the Life of Kubo” by Park Taewon translated by Justyna Najbar (December 2008), Vampire and Other Short Stories of Kim Youngha translated by Choi Sung-Eun (Estera Choi) and Beata Kang-Bogusz (April 2009), as well as The Last Autumn Love and Other Short Stories by Oh Jeong-hee, translated by Marzena Stefanska (August 2009). The author of the last book, Oh Jeong-hee, is one of the most celebrated and outstanding Korean authors. Her short stories 36 list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010
published in Poland under the title The Last Autumn Love and Other Short Stories are consistently rich, provocative, powerful, and carefully crafted. Oh Jeong-hee, endowed with extraordinary talent, seems to know more about the female psyche than other writers. Heroines of her stories are usually women between 30 and 40 who, limited by their role as housewives, feel the emptiness and futility of their lives. Each of these characters live in a cycle of daily routines and unfulfilled dreams. Lack of complete freedom in their lives drive them to apathy and make them unable to express their feelings, except to make futile gestures of mutiny. The subjects that Oh explores are not easy; they provoke and make the readers reflect. The Bird, another book by Oh, which will be published in Poland in spring, is an emotional tale of a brother and sister, abandoned as children, struggling to make something out of their young lives. This novel displays differences from the majority of her other stories as it does not focus on the feminine values she is so often associated with, but offers insight into her intense writing style. This is the second of Oh’s books translated from Korean by Marzena Stefanska. A famous journalist once said about Oh Jeong-hee’s writing: “Delicate, understand writing that finds the extraordinary in the ordinary.” And this is Oh Jeong-hee—already loved by Polish readers. By Edyta Matejko-Paszkowska (editor of Kwiaty Orientu), Marzena Stefanska (translator)
Book Lover's Angle
The Past and Present of Korean Literature
Lose Yourself in the Novels of Europe by Lars Vargö
Korean literature has a long history, stretching over many centuries. While the influence of the Chinese writing system was monumental, and only Chinese characters were used in the hyangchal system before hangeul was finally invented, there has always been a clearly recognizable Korean quality to the texts, be they poems or prose. In my view, this specific Korean quality has on the one hand been formed by the geographical intensity of the peninsula, with the sea surrounding it on three sides and the mountain ridges rising from all sides being the most striking aspects, and on the other by the intensity of Korean history. Against this background, prominent political, philosophical, religious, and cultural personalities have always looked for ways to establish, or express, stability and harmony. In so doing they have often created the opposite: instability and disharmony. Despite this, a virtue that has been valued by all is social unity. Modern Korean literature had already begun to develop some 100 years ago, in spite of the difficulties in preserving a national identity after the Japanese annexation, but it was probably not until well into the 1970s that one could identify Korean writers that could make a living by their profession and who could find large audiences for what they produced. One difficulty for Korean writers has of course always been how to relate to Western and Japanese literature. Just three years after Korea found an opportunity to develop without oppressive foreign influences through the liberation in 1945, the peninsula was divided into two conflicting nations. Western literature was probably seen by many as something attractive, but so much else was on the agenda after World War II that the influence for many years was accidental rather than something that could be seen as a trend. During the Korean War many unknown potential writers, as well as already established literary figures, were tragically killed. What effect this had on the Korean literature that followed is impossible to judge, but certainly the war itself left its clear mark. If anything, the war underlined the tendency in the writing to look for ways out of misery, either by identifying higher qualities of human existence or by describing ways to cope with the tragedies. Japanese literature of the 20th century was of a very high quality, but before liberation in 1945 it was the literature of an occupying nation, and after 1945 it was for many years the literature that Korean writers wanted to keep at a clear distance. Today, Japanese writers, especially young Japanese writers, have many readers in Korea. In fact there are so many that it is possible to talk about a Japanese influence on Korean literature. Today it is not only possible to discuss Japan’s influence on Korean literature, many actually allude to this reality. But the opposite is also true; more and more Japanese readers are discovering Korean writers. New phenomena are arising as a result of earlier interactions between the two countries. One of my own favourite Japanese writers is Yu Miri, who is of Korean descent, but who writes in Japanese. She writes very distinctly about discrimination and other problems in Japanese society, and many Korean readers probably consider her as a Korean writer, but she has also written critically about families of Korean origin living in Japan, and she is simply and foremost a good writer. I don’t think she cares if you call her Japanese or Korean. Similar phenomena can now be seen in my own country, Sweden. Some 15 percent of the Swedish population consists of first or second-generation immigrants. Sweden has become what the United States has always been: a place where people from all over the world want to find a new and better life. The new eyes that in this process have entered the Swedish literary scene have also produced many excellent expressions of literature. Some of the most popular Swedish writers today come from a different ethnic background, and this in its turn has influenced authors who write in a more traditional way. I think it is a very positive phenomenon because whatever historical or cultural background a national literature has, it is always through interaction with other cultures and traditions that it can leap to higher levels. By Lars Vargö (Swedish Ambassador to Korea)
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A Place of Peace Protected by Non-peace
With the 1953 ceasefire as a de facto end of the Korean War, a military demarcation line was established, and consequently, became the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) of today. The DMZ is a buffer zone created to prevent direct conflict, keeping a certain distance between North and South Korea. The civilian restricted area, four kilometers wide running along the 248 km long ceasefire line, measures about 300 million pyeong, or 80,000 acres.
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© DMZ, Awaiting a Train to Europe, 2009, Planet Media Publishing Co.
© DMZ, Awaiting a Train to Europe, 2009, Planet Media Publishing Co.
Barbed wire fence dividing the North and South; an unused bridge between the North and South
A Special Land, the Secret of the DMZ Jeon Yeong-jae YeaRimDang Publishing Co., Ltd. 2004, 232p ISBN 978-89-3023-515-0
The DMZ stands as a significant symbol of modern Korean history. The existence of a demarcation line indicates a past violent military conflict that has yet to be resolved, and continues to have impact. In particular, the DMZ on the Korean peninsula reveals the pain of being the only remaining divided nation in the world, for it is the result of a war between the people of one nation. The lexical definition of the DMZ states that it is a “demilitarized, non-combat zone cutting across the Korean peninsula from the east to the west, established to prevent recurrence of war through antagonistic actions between the North and the South, in agreement with the ceasefire of the Korean War.” From South Korea’s point of view, the east end of the DMZ lies in Goseong-gun (district), Gangwon-do (province), and the west end in Jangdan-myeon (township), Paju-si (city), Gyeonggi-do (province). It is a paradox that the DMZ, a symbol of Korea’s turbulent modern history, is emerging as a sign of a new hope and optimism for the people of Korea. The DMZ has paradoxically come to mean a place of peace protected by non-peace. A great feast of flora and fauna can be glimpsed in a place scarred by war, a place taut with military tension. As the old Chinese saying goes, an evil may turn out to be a blessing in disguise. A place of death has turned into a place of life; a place of abandonment, into a place of resurrection. The changing interest in the DMZ has naturally had an impact on the publishing world. Seeing a place of volatile military confrontation in a new list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010 39
1. DMZ: The Boundary of Wilderness Choi Samkyu, Woongjin Think Big Co., Ltd. 2007, 117p, ISBN 978-89-01-06573-1
© DMZ: The Boundary of Wilderness, 2007, Woongjin ThinkBig Co., Ltd.
© DMZ, Awaiting a Train to Europe, 2009, Planet Media Publishing Co.
at once the nature of the books themselves. The same is true for this book, subtitled, “As Told by Jeon Yeong-jae, a DMZ Eco-Journalist.” The author’s profile indicates the aptness of the subtitle. Since joining Chuncheon MBC as a journalist in the MBC Newsroom, Jeon has covered only the DMZ and civilian restricted zones. His coverage has won him various awards and honors, including the Journalist of the Month Award, the Good Program Award, and the Korea Broadcasting Award. He has the rare journalistic background of specializing in the DMZ. The merit of Jeon’s book lies not only in the text appropriate for children and young adults, but also in the photographs that teach the value of the ecosystem in the DMZ. Among the remarkable photographs are those of Chinese mergansers, a rare breed of bird; golden mandarin fish, Natural Monument Number 190, that can be found only in Korea; and gorals, Natural Monument Number 217. In addition, the book contains information on ruins and sights, serving as a travel guide as well as a book on the ecosystem and history of the DMZ. It was selected as Outstanding Scientific Literature certified by the Korean Ministry of Science and Technology in 2005.
3. Hello, DMZ! Choi Hyun-jin, Blue Sky Publishing Co. 2006, 103p, ISBN 89-92417-10-1
2. DMZ: A Place of Painful History and
Kim Hunlee, Gimm-Young Publishers, Inc. 2008, 56p, ISBN 978-89-349-3186-7
light, thus seeing it as a place of life and peace, may be a direction that will lead to a better future. Above all, the effort to share the newly discovered value of this area with a new generation living in an era of division, is highly commendable. A number of books on the DMZ have been published for children and young adults. Among them, A Special Land, the Secret of the DMZ stands out. The subtitles of books for children and young adults tend to reveal 40 list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010
DMZ, Awaiting a Train to Europe Kim Ho-Ki, Kang Seoghoon Lee YounChan, and Kim Hwankee Planet Media Publishing Co. 2009, 351p, ISBN 978-89-92326-57-5
© The Lost Land, 2009, Borim Press
Walking tour around the ceasefire line; a bird sitting on barbed wire; a wild flower growing through a shattered helmet
Other books on the DMZ for children and young adults include DMZ: The Boundary of Wilderness by Choi Samkyu, DMZ: A Place of Painful History and National Division by Kim Hunlee, and Hello, DMZ! by Choi Hyun-jin. Recently published books on the DMZ include DMZ, Awaiting a Train to Europe. The value of this book lies in its all-encompassing view of the DMZ from social, political, economic, and ecological points of view. The authors range from Professor Kim Ho-ki of the Department of Sociology at Yonsei University, Professor Kang Seon-hoon of the Department of Economics at Sungshin Women’s University, Lee Younchan, a journalist at The Economist, and Kim Hwankee, director of Booksorie, a publishing company. The photographs were taken by Lee Sangyoup and Cho Woohae. The authors predict that the DMZ will be a steppingstone towards peace and prosperity on the Korean peninsula, and the repository of a new ecosystem. They cited as examples the agenda of Ganghwa Island to emerge as the hub of the Yellow Sea Free Economic Zone by connecting Seoul, Incheon, and Gaeseong (located in the North); the plans by Cheolwon, Hwacheon, and Yangu to rise as tourist cities with an emphasis on the ecosystem; and the preparations being made by Goseong, a county near the Geumgang Mountains, for post-reunification. The book, however, does not just report on the hopes of the DMZ areas. It examines the limitations posed by the reality of the division on the blueprints designed by each area, and proposes suggestions. As the title suggests, the book is not pessimistic about the days ahead. The reason for that lies in the symbolic nature of Sintanri Station in Yeoncheon. The station is the last stop on the side of South Korea of the Gyeongwon line, whose final stop is Wonsan, North Korea. If the Gyeongwon line is restored, people can go past Sintanri Station onto Wonsan and Moscow, which means that they can travel to Europe by rail. Thus, the book places more weight on hope and imagination than on realistic constraints and despair. Due to the restricted nature of the DMZ, the numerous books about it have been written by professional journalists since civilians do not have easy access to the military zone. In that respect,
Journalist Lee Haeyong has had a great advantage of having been born in Yangu, an area near the DMZ, and of working for the Gangwon province branch of Yonhap News agency. Lee Haeyong has written two books on the DMZ. The first is Discovering DMZ, and the second, DMZ Story. What is interesting is that the author has a different way of looking at the DMZ from most of the world. As the prologue of the second book states, he seeks to “find humanitarian value connecting the hearts of people living on a divided peninsula, not just to see the ecosystem of wild animals.” In other words, the book deals with the history of the people living in the area. That is not to say, of course, that such a perspective overturns the existing perspective on the DMZ. His words imply that what he is searching for can be found when we notice and embrace what the mainstream perspective fails to notice. DMZ: The Boundary of Wilderness is a book based on a nature documentary of the same name, which then-President Roh Moohyun gave the North Korean leader Kim Jong-il as a gift at the South-North Summit. The documentary was the recipient of the One Planet Award and the Chicago International Television Festival Award. Other books on the DMZ include You Youngho’s To Become “One”: Across the Civilian Control Line upon Reunification, and Hahm Kwangbok’s DMZ: The Unexpected Inheritance. Considering the past, the present, and the future value of the DMZ, it is regrettable that a greater variety of books on the subject cannot be found, probably due to the limited access to the area. Nevertheless, it is vital that a wider variety of books on the DMZ be published, because the area is fraught with dreams of turning the history of war and division into that of life and peace. It may be a weak beginning, but it can lead to dreams of a strong ending. By Lee Kwon-woo
5. DMZ Story Lee Haeyong, Noonbit, 2008, 360p ISBN 978-89-7409-606-9 6. Discovering DMZ Hahm Kwangbok, Jipmoondang 2005, 205p, ISBN 978-89-3031-179-3
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Korean Drinking Culture Alcohol is a beverage that can move the hearts of people; therefore, records of the kinds of alcoholic drinks that Koreans have drunk over time, past and present, can provide us with a better understanding of the Korean psyche.
Alcohol: Koreaâ€™s Drinking Culture Lee Sanghee, Sun Publishers, 2009 ISBN 978-89-6312-006-5
42 list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010
Koreansâ€™ alcohol consumption is comparable to that of the Russians. The Korean predilection for alcohol is sometimes attributed to their love of drink and dance, but a more convincing explanation is the fact that the national liquor, soju, is of high quality and low cost. Koreaâ€™s largest distillery, Jinro, has recorded the highest revenues of any alcoholic beverage company in the world since 2001, managing to hold this distinction for the past eight years running, which shows just how much Koreans enjoy their alcohol. This does not mean, however, that Koreans simply focus on quantity when they drink. Korea has a very distinctive drinking culture featuring a wide variety of alcoholic drinks. The chief characteristic of Korean alcohol is that it is brewed from the staple food, rice. Wine is made from grapes, while beer and whiskey are made from barley, but none of these crops is considered a staple food in countries where they are cultivated. Because Korean alcohol was made from the staple rice crop, in times of famine the government forbade the brewing of alcohol. However, alcoholic spirits were absolutely necessary for carrying out ancestral rites and for entertaining visitors, so in the past there were many cases in which Koreans intentionally disobeyed the ban on brewing. Until the early 20th century there were no breweries in Korea so most alcohol was brewed and sold at inns and taverns where travelers could also find room and board. Almost all Koreans also
© Hur Shimyung’s 1000 Miles of Drink, 2007, Wisdomhouse Publishing Co., Ltd.
early stage in preparing makgeolli; drinking makgeolli
Im-wonsib-yugji - Chapter on Food & Drink, Jeongjoji Seo Yugu, Kyomunsa Publishing Ltd., 2007, 372p ISBN 978-89-363-0850-6
brewed their own handcrafted alcohol at home, although today most people drink company-manufactured alcoholic beverages. Four recent books serve as informative guides to Korea’s drinking culture. The first book is a compilation entitled, Alcohol: Korea’s Drinking Culture, by Lee Sanghee. The second book serves an introduction to Korea’s 19th century drinking culture, Imwonsib-yugji - Volume on Food & Drink, Jeongjoji (Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in the Joseon Dynasty). The third book explores Korean aesthetics and drink, Poongryu, A Poetic Elegance. Finally, the fourth book, Hur Shimyung’s 1000 Miles of Drink describes the regional alcohol of Korea. Alcohol: Korea’s Drinking Culture is a gargantuan work based on research of more than 10,000 pages from 200 ancient manuscripts, and contains more than 1,200 paintings and pictures. It is an encyclopedic work covering all aspects of Korea’s drinking culture. The book’s author, Lee Sanghee, has had a very unique career, serving as both Minister of Home Affairs and Minister of Construction and Transportation, the highest positions that an administrative bureaucrat can achieve. Upon retirement, most people in such positions become advisory board members for corporations
or enjoy their leisure time at home. But Lee Sanghee instead chose to write a book based on his personal interests and the many documents he had gathered over the years. In 1998, Lee published a 1,500page book titled, Korean Literature as seen through Flowers, Volumes 1, 2, and 3. The book was widely acclaimed for “opening a new chapter in Korea’s spiritual culture.” I n t he pa s t , K ore a’s g ent lemenscholars worried about national affairs when outside the home, while focusing on reading and writing during their domestic leisure and counted self-discipline and purification among the highest virtues. Author Lee introduces the reader to the spirit of the gentleman-scholar in Alcohol: Korea’s Drinking Culture from where we learn that drinking etiquette was taught from a young age, with an emphasis on decorum. Drinking invariably included song and dance as well as the recitation of poems, and was the sublimation of refined artistic sentiments and noble aspirations. T he b o ok c ove r s t he h i s tor y of Korean alcohol and its characteristics, as well as analyzes Korean alcohol and its associated folk culture, taverns, brewing methods, drinking etiquette, art of poetic amusements, literature, and agricultural cycles. By understanding the drinking culture, we can see inside the past. The book also includes the achievements of list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010 43
making traditional ginseng wine; distilling alcohol; rice yeast hanging from the wall ingredients used to make traditional wine
famous Korean tipplers, famous alcoholrelated anecdotes and tales, as well as proverbs related to drink. Dozens of pictures and excerpts from relevant source materials about alcohol from the East and West have also been included. The author even mentions that he spent several hundred million Korean won (several hundred thousand dollars) of his own money in gathering photographic materials for the book. Some of t he a spects of Korea n drinking culture introduced in the book are traditional holidays and seasonal alcoholic drinks. On the first day of the New Year, Koreans drink a special spiced liquor called dosoju, while on Daeboreum ( January 15th by the lunar calendar) they drink gwiebaggi-sool (literally “earquickening wine”). On Dano (May 5th by the lunar calendar) Koreans drink sweet f lag liquor (liquor brewed with acorus calamus root), while on Chuseok (the harvest moon festival on August 15th by the lunar calendar) they drink gukhwaju, chrysanthemum rice wine. These varied seasonal liquors illustrate Korea’s refined culture of alcohol appreciation. The book, Im-wonsib-yug ji Volum e on Food & D r ink , Je ong joji written by the Pragmatic school scholar and administrative off icial Seo Yugu (1764~1845), will satisfy your curiosity about the kinds of alcohol and liquors enjoyed by Koreans in times past. It is an 44 list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010
encyclopedia that includes information on agriculture and diet from 18th century Korea and contains many old documents as well as a comprehensive treatment of 171 different kinds of alcohol, including some from China and Japan. According to the scholar Seo Yugu, there are two moralities in life that must be cultivated. The first is to aid others when we are abroad, while the second is to eat good food and recover our strength when at home. Seo Yugu wrote this book as a reference guide to help people keep these two equally precious concepts in mind. Although the original treatise was written in Chinese characters, the Volume on Food & Drink, Jeongjo-ji, was translated into Korean and published in 2007 by nutritionists Lee Hyo-gee as a single volume. The abridged Volume on Food & Drink, Jeongjoji is more than just a translation—the 80 recipes introduced within its pages were actually cooked and photographed by the authors, who revised the recipes to reflect modern standards of measure. All of the dishes can be enjoyed together with alcohol. Nutritionist Lee Hyo-gee has referred to the historical source text as a treasure trove, containing the essence of East Asia and Korea’s culinary culture. Many scholars were involved in the re-adaptation a nd c ompi l a t ion of t h i s h i s t or ic a l classic. When cooking these traditional
recipes, Lee Hyo-gee found that some of the ingredients listed in the ancient text were rare and that the cooking instructions were vague and arcane to modern eyes. She says that she was only able to make sense of the recipes by looking at other cookbooks from the same era. Im-wonsib-yug ji - Volume on Food & Drink, Jeongjoji is the result of countless hours paging through ancient texts and deciphering the wisdom hidden within. The third book written by Shin Jeong-il and titled, Poongryu, A Poetic Elegance bears the subtitle, “Share a glass with people of the past.” The prolific author is a hiking expert who has traveled most of the roads in Korea, as well as a man of letters who has mastered the Chinese classics and other ancient tomes. In 2009, I had the opportunity to travel together with Shin to some of the best hiking trails in Korea. During our journeys, I recall having a conversation about restoring the old network of taverns and inns that used to line the roads. But Shin went one step further, proposing the restoration of Korea’s traditional drinks, songs, poems, and poetic culture through the establishment of a “village of poetic elegance”. The author intends to use this book as the instructional text for the “village of poetic elegance.” The word poongryu is often used to describe the sentiments of Koreans, with the author describing the word to mean “the concept of being close to nature, encompassing the enjoyment of taste, style, artistic elegance, writing, music, and drink
© Hur Shimyung’s 1000 Miles of Drink, 2007, Wisdomhouse Publishing Co., Ltd.
in a free and easy atmosphere.” He adds that poongryu was a way for ancient Koreans to relate with others while disciplining the body. The poems within poongryu f ly like birds in the sky, enabling readers to get a glimpse of the late-night autumn banquets of Korean scholars who enjoyed drinks while sharing wisdom among the chrysanthemum blossoms. The book is composed of short poems and anecdotes from Korea’s past. They are gathered together like a mosaic to create a mural of Korea’s culture of poeticism. The fourth book Hur Shimyung’s 1000 Miles of Drink describes about 30 Korean alcoholic drinks that he tasted during his travels throughout the country. He also includes descriptions of regional culture and brew masters. Korean alcohol is unique in that many types are brewed using the staple food, rice, while alcohol from fruit is relatively scarce. Spirits containing medicinal herbs are a common Korean specialty. During fermentation, the main ingredients are rice and rice yeast yeast (aspergillus usani), while medicinal herbs are added to provide fragrance, taste, and tonic effects. The book describes the importance of Korean rice yeast, which is rarely used in the West but often used as a fermenting agent in East Asian ricegrowing cultures. China and Korea use a solid form of rice yeast, whereas Japan cultures rice yeast on boiled grains of rice. Hur Shimyung’s 1000 Miles of Drink also recounts the author’s travels to places where rice yeast is made and explains how it is
grown. Along the way, the author explains differences in the culinary fermentation culture of Korea and Japan due to different methods of rice yeast usage. The book also explains Korea’s unique tradition of alcoholic tonics containing medicinal herbs. Koreans refer to mountain spring water as yaksu (literally “medicine water”), rice containing chestnuts and dates as yakbap (literally “medicine rice”), and various seasonings and ingredients added during cooking as yangnyum (the original etymological root is yaknyum, which literally means “medicinal seasoning”). This illustrates the close relationship between food and medicine in the minds of Koreans, who believe that food is the best medicine. Koreans traditionally visited the oriental medicine apothecary’s shop to get medicinal herbs for consumption even when they weren’t sick. This custom even extends to drink, where the word yakju (literally, “medicinal alcoholic drink”) is commonly used as a synonym for alcohol. Hur Shimyung’s 1000 Miles of Drink illuminates the origins of these Korean customs. If readers digest these four books, they will be able to understand the past and present of Korea’s drinking culture—the taverns and inns beloved by Koreans, the kinds of drinks they enjoyed, and their frank emotions when parta k ing in drink. Alcohol is said to be a food that can move the heart, so if readers know about Korean alcohol and its related history, they will gain special insight into the hearts of Koreans.
enjoying traditional rice wine
By Hur Shimyung (journalist and principal of the School of Makgeolli)
1. Poongryu, A Poetic Elegance Shin Jeong-il, Hans Media, 2007, 342p ISBN 978-89-9108-749-1 2. Hur Shimyung’s 1000 Miles of Drink Hur Shimyung, Wisdomhouse Publishing Co., Ltd. 2007, 333p, ISBN 978-89-591-3257-7
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Do You Know What You Did This Time? Just Say Sorry Lee Kiho, Hyundae Munhak Co., Ltd., 2009, 243p ISBN 978-89-7275-450-3
Even without bringing Freud into it, guilt is one of the basic emotional requirements for people living in a civilized society. Without guilt, crimes would be committed without any qualms, and nobody would ever think there would be a price to pay. Picturing such a world of chaos is not a happy thought, and in that sense guilt is like a ticket to the world of order and civilization. But is such order and civilization always for the better? Lee Kiho has already described in his short story “The Age of Confession” a nightmare of a world in which a subaltern protagonist existing outside of society and order has to confess his guilt to gain entry, and revisits the theme from a new viewpoint with his latest novel Just Say Sorry. Just Say Sorry starts with life in a shelter. Presumably built to give the homeless the benef its of civilization, the ‘shelter’ is a place of incarceration, violence, and forced labor rather than protection. The wielders of violence keep up an endless stream of, “You know what’s your problem?” or “You know what you did this time?” that eventually causes the victims to feel, amazingly enough, that they did do something wrong. So the protagonists Sibong and the narrator “from that day on, we committed crimes every day. Us, we didn’t know what our crime was, so we always confessed first.” This is an example of how guilt is established through confession, and how human beings are tamed by that guilt. Of course, t he shelter where t he protagonists are incarcerated cannot be seen as a typical example of human society. The story of Just Say Sorry takes a new turn when the protagonists leave the shelter and are incorporated into the daily lives of
ordinary people. Looking for work, Sibong and the narrator realize that what they do best is apologize. Think about it. Wouldn’t someone who can confess crimes and ask for forgiveness when faced with totally unprovoked violence be able to admit to committing crimes and apologize under any circumstances whatsoever? In other words, they are compulsive confessors a nd automat ic apolog i z ers. So t he y plaster ads saying, “We do your apologies for you. For all the crimes unwittingly committed against your parents, spouse, siblings, relatives, friends, neighbors, and colleagues, we apologize for you,” and search for clients. Apolog y by proxy seems to be an asinine concept at first glance. But the problem is not that simple. Because ordinary people leading honest lives do “unwittingly” commit crimes against their “parents, spouse, siblings, relatives, friends, neighbors, and colleagues.” They just don’t acknowledge them. However, to our compulsive, automatic apologizers, their crimes are as clear as day. What is a crime? Towards the end of the novel the director of the shelter asserts that: “the only way to forget a crime is to pretend it never happened.” Most people likely live their lives according to the director’s words, but that does not absolve their crimes. Then what is there to do? The weight of the question raised in Just Say Sorry belies the light style it is written in. By Yi Soo-hyung
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An Ancient City Buried Under the Desert Lou-lan Hyeon Giyeong, Changbi Publishers, Inc. 2009, 300p, ISBN 978-89-364-3371-0
Dreams of a Great and Ordinary Revolution The Double Life of Cat Kim Yeon-kyung, Minumsa, 2009, 281p ISBN 978-89-374-8290-8
Do you still believe in an ideological revolution out of the pages of history? In Seoul in the year 2000, a group of people unite to say an empathetic “Yes” to that very question. They are the members of “ptre” (Proletariat Revolution), an Internet chat room. Kwon Min-woo, taking time off from school, is the son of a professor at a university hospital; Choi Ji-wook, is the chat room moderator; Ttalki is a six-yearold girl who acts as Ji-wook’s messenger; Kim Cheol-su is a chronic, failed test48 list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010
The reason why Hyeon Giyeong, whose writing revisits people buffeted by the tempestuous waves of modern Korean history, has chosen “Lou-lan” for the title of his first novel in 10 years must be because of the apocalyptic imagery of the end of the world evocative of that ancient city. The author senses an apocalypse of sorts in the skies of Seoul, bustling with excitement over the 2002 KoreanJapanese World Cup. “To Hur Moo-sung, Seoul was a city rotten of greed. That was why it seemed to him that the yellow dust of Seoul came not from a Gobi or Taklamakan, but from completely the opposite direction, the faraway Pacific, an extension of the yellow cloud that enveloped Manhattan six months ago. A yellow desert settled over the skies of Seoul. The clouds of yellow dust turned the sun rising in the morning an ominous shade of dead blood.” The protagonist Hur Moo-sung fought for the democratization
taker of the civil service exams, currently unemployed; and 40-something Manager Kang works at a small computer company. These are the protagonists of Kim Yeonkyung’s The Double Life of Cat, a novel that examines the possible reenactment of the Russian Revolution of November 1917 a nd its historica l a nd politica l ramifications. The protagonists, however, ironically prove themselves to be far removed from the integrity of a revolution. Ji-wook plots revenge against his father, Dr. Kwon Yool, who abandoned him and his mother, but it turns out that Dr. Kwon is not his father. Cheol-su, who clung to a modicum of integrity, has an affair with a married woman and later becomes the successful owner of a private academy specializing in writing. Min-woo appears to pursue a different path than his father but ends up going to law school and joining the bourgeoisie. Manager Kang, likewise, is busy managing his own survival. At the end of the day, these people had no reason to fight, no cause to mourn, no mask to wear, and no integrity to swallow. The characters in this book show how we live in an era of snobbery and brutal competition where wealth and success are
of Korea and was tortured harshly into defection, after which he returns to Korea with a degree and becomes a university professor with the help of the prosecutor who had tortured him. To him, even with the freedom won by the democratic movement of the 1980s, the neo-liberalism and globalism of the 90s mark it as an era hostile to the 80s. Drifting like “a broken radio out of wavelength with this world,” he feels that the 21st century that arrived with the destruction of New York City’s World Trade Center is yet darker and more chaotic than ever in the sense that the once stealthy fascist forces have started to move in broad daylight. Can he credit the masses filling the streets in the World Cup season of June 2002 with the same hope he did with the masses of June 1987, that turning point of Korean democracy? He cannot say. Calling himself “the living dead,” he decides to go to Jirisan (mountain), home of the partisan guerillas 50 years ago and also to his hometown. Can he start a new history on top of ruins buried in the desert? Surely the answer is not up to the protagonist of Lou-lan alone. By Yi Soo-hyung
ultimately the only values that count. In the end, as in Dr. Kwon’s last words asking for “water,” only survival remains. To them, the preservation and management of life are the only issues that matter. It may seem as if The Double Life of Cat has a happy ending, with all ptre members finding their places in the world. The question this work asks of the reader, however, is whether the happiness they have found is true happiness. By Lee Kyungjae
Loving Deeply, Sight Unseen Alice’s Way of Life Jang Eunjin, Minumsa, 2009, 387p ISBN 978-89-374-8264-9
Leaving One City in Search of Another What Makes Up a City? Park Seong-won, Munhakdongne Publishing Corp. 2009, 325p, ISBN 978-89-546-0805-3
The eight short stories in What Makes Up a City? a collection of short stories by Park Seong-won, are remarkable in that they are a part of a serial novel, with titles ranging from “We Are Running, to Wonderland” and “To Ulan Bator in a Camping Car,” to “What Makes Up a City?” A serial novel, of course, are linked short stories that have common characters and themes, but the stories in this particular book are even more closely related to each other than most serial novels. In other words,
A new cyber generation that finds no discomfort in spending day after day with a computer as a friend—this is what the older generation has been raising concerns about. By shopping, chatting, taking classes, and playing games online, this new generation can go an entire day without “real conversation.” This trend in Korea has given rise to the term “digital mutes” which refers to the increasing numbers of people who are finding friends and even lovers through online games and chatting without once seeing each others’ faces. You’ve never rea lly met someone until you’ve seen their face, says the older generation, so how could you be friends or lovers with someone you have not met in person? Jang Eunjin, debut author of Alice’s Way of Life, offers a provocative answer to the older generation’s question. She says that because we look at faces, we are deceived by them. But by not looking at faces, we can love people fully. Jang’s novel, Alice’s Way of Life, tells the fascinating story of a woman who has not
the characters and themes in this novel are very consistent. Thus, a character in a story may closely resemble a character in another story, and the events that unfold through that character may seem similar in many aspects to events in another story. W hat is this novel aiming at that unfolds with a consistency evoking déjà vu? In a word, irrationality—the irrationality that lurks in the lives of people in this modern age, the lives of people who live in civilized cities. For instance, the father of the protagonist in “To Ulan Bator in a Camping Car” spends his life dreaming of becoming “a person who breaks away from the mold,” then ends up going out into the country and opening a coffee shop named “Ulan Bator.” To the protagonist, of course, his father is simply insane. Is that indeed the case? Upon hearing the news of his father’s death, the protagonist makes his way to “Ulan Bator,” the coffee shop, where he becomes entangled in a situation like that of being trapped in a Mongolian desert or steppe. There, reason and civilization, which had held life together in the city, has no effect whatsoever. Contrary to his beliefs, life in the city and life in the desert are not clearly distinguishable,
gone outside for 10 years. The only clue to her existence is her voice on the intercom. Alice, the woman in apartment 305, uses the intercom to send her neighbor Luis (Minseok) on endless errands. The errands come at odd times and for odd reasons. When he refuses, the eccentric Alice even takes a lead pipe to Luis’ door. What begins as irritation and curiosity about the unusual Alice, who only exists as a voice to Luis, surprisingly turns to friendship and even love. No sight, no touch, only the imagination. Is it possible to love that way? The author whispers, yes. As the secrets of the strange Alice are revealed, Alice’s Way of Life sheds an entertaining light on the lives and loves of the new cyber generation. We are a generation that has become closer to our fellow bloggers or Facebook friends than to our actual neighbors. But can we truly say we have grown close because we “meet?” If we do not know each other’s face, does that we mean we do not know each other? Through her provocative and experimental narrative, debut author Jang Eunjin questions the true meaning of intimacy in the 21st century. By Jung Yeo-ul
and he comes to have no choice but to acknowledge that he had only believed that he had been tamed by civilization. What makes up a city? The novel answers this question by stating that a city has something hidden inside, something that remains untamed by civilization. Through Park’s novel, we come to discover that although we may travel outside a city, the outside is actually the irrational that is hidden inside. By Yi Soo-hyung
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Weather the Daily Squalor River No Return Kim Hoon, Munhakdongne Publishing Corp. 2009, 318p, ISBN 978-89-546-0899-2
Kim Hoon is the bestselling author of the historical trilogy Song of the Sword, Song of Strings, and Fortress on Mt. Namhan. His latest novel, River No Return, paints a candid portrait of the human world in all its squalor, here and now. As the title River No Return (Don’t Cross the River, My Love) indicates, Kim Hoon’s message is to stick it out in the bad old world, and not try to leave it. Jang Cheol-su is a character who does just that. Jang lives in a world of news articles and endless facts. At the same time Hue’s world is made up entirely of brief adverbs after she comes to the shores of Hae-mang as a bride from Vietnam. Jang’s sense of morality is so strong he sells one of his kidneys for Hue. Moon Jeong-su, obsessed with facts, No Mok-hee, who listens to the pillow talk of the world of facts that will never be written into articles, and the orthodox humanist Taiwei, who seems to be the author’s alter ego, are the characters placed alongside Jang Cheol-su. The tools Kim Hoon uses to examine
A Feast of Voices North Living Room Bae Suah, Moonji Publishing Co., Ltd., 2009, 287p ISBN 978-89-320-1978-9
Bae Suah, one of Korea’s most innovative writers, has departed from the tradition of mainstream literature and created her own literary world based on a unique style and knack for psychological description. The author’s particular style is taken to the next level with North Living Room, which guides the reader into a fantastic dream world. None of the basic elements of the novel such narrative point of view, time, and character, are observed. This work is a novel that betrays the novel. Not that Bae Suah is the first person to do this. Bakhtin long ago defined the novel as “a type of literature that has no unique form of its own.” Bae’s North Living Room is a novel only after it is words and sentences, and ultimately a voice. “Why can’t we exist only as a voice?” a sk s t he fema le prota gonist Su ni, a question fit to be directed towards Bae’s very novel itself. Lists of all kinds of 50 list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010
sounds are repeated obsessively. They are voices that vanish the instant they are spoken and recorded. They are not sounds that can be attributed to one single owner. These voices are the most primordial and fundamental horizon of the world and life as imagined by Bae Suah. What we call language or novels are merely the sorry remains of these voices tainted by the dregs of history and society. Bae’s voice, on the other hand, is a voice that erases itself, a voice that vanishes, defying any attempt at bestowing interpretation or authority upon it. To force a ny k ind of f i xed representation or meaning upon her work is an act of unspeakable oppression for Bae Suah. Therefore these voices free of any sort of representation or meaning can only exist as auditory stimulation like the sound of wild birds in the woods or the sound of wind on a lake. Only this voice can be a small seed of consolation, as it was to one woman. The way to truly enjoy Bae Suah’s North Living Room is to read it aloud. By Lee Kyungjae
humanity are not glasses or a telescope, but rather a magnifying glass or a microscope. To the author, humanity and society can be broken down into an infinite number of factors. Just as looking at a human being through a magnifying glass or a microscope will only yield dead skin cells or a fuzz of hair, the author regards anything else in life besides raw instinct to be false. The consistent comparison of the Vietnamese Hue to an animal is also an example of naturalization, the struggle for survival being divorced from its social context. In the same vein, language may also be a mere ritual far removed from the truth, and just another form of falsehood. In the same way, Moon Jeong-su can never write up any of the stories he goes to cover in Hae-mang. With River No Return, Kim Hoon is saying that it is our lives here and now that are our hope, and not some concept, ideology, or historical saga. By Lee Kyungjae
The Road to Our Paradise This Paradise of Yours Yi Chong-jun, Moonji Publishing Co., Ltd., 2002, 460p ISBN 89-320-0842-6
This Paradise of Yours is a work based on a true story that took place on a little island in Korea in the 1960s. Perhaps because of the continual rift between what is “normal” and “abnormal,” and between “mainland” and “island,” the book remains popular. This Paradise of Yours, published in 1976 and reprinted more than 100 times since, is a steady seller, the most representative work by Yi Chong-jun, and a major work of modern Korean literature. One of the reasons that this book, not quite an easy read, became a steady seller may lie in the intense longing evoked by the title, This
Paradise of Yours. If the title of another novel, The Square by Choi In-hoon, seeks reconciliation between an open space—the square—and a closed space—a secret room—This Paradise of Yours depicts the extremely difficult process through which “your paradise” might become “our paradise.”
Why was it impossible, in the end, for “your paradise” to become “our paradise?” In this work set in the backdrop of a little island in the southern provinces of Korea, where sufferers of Hansen’s disease were quarantined since 1916, the otherness separating “us” from “them,” or “me” from “you,” is symbolic as well as historical. Based on modern medical discourse, it is declared that the patients of the disease will be treated and protected in the name of science; and the patients, who had suffered on the mainland, give their trust and devotion to the director of the hospital who promises them that together, they will turn their little island into a paradise. What they get in return, however, is nothing but bitter betrayal. This Paradise of Yours, based on a true story that took place on an island in the 1960s and 70s, unfolds with a scene in which a new director comes to the island with a dark past. The new director, well aware of the failures of the previous director, makes efforts to stand on the side of the patients and to build a paradise, but faces failure with each attempt because of the mistrust of the patients. The strained tension between the director and the patients reaches its climax when they must deal with a large-scale reclamation project to connect the island to the mainland. Did they indeed succeed in creating a paradise? And was the enormous gap between the director (representing the population at large) and the patients, and between the island and the mainland, bridged in the end? The last wish expressed by the director, that “the hearts of the people may be joined together before dirt and stones are,” is quite a tentative wish compared to the rose-colored prospects for a paradise. It reflects the humble wisdom that before hastily trying to unite “us” and “them,” the differences between “us” and “them” must be acknowledged. “Our paradise” is probably still in progress. However, people must have realized one truth, at least, that rash attempts to create “our paradise” will only result in “your paradise.” In that respect, the end of This Paradise of Yours points to a beginning, and not an end. Has there ever been another Korean writer who looked into the concept of “otherness” between people as deeply and for as long as Yi Chong-jun? His novels are famous for not coming to a positive ending. It is a different kind of pleasure, however, to glimpse hints of a positive beginning through a negative ending. By Yi Soo-hyung
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Rereading a Book on Books Books for Youth U Si-min, Woongjin Think Big Co., Ltd. 2009, 319p, ISBN 978-89-01-10156-9
What would it be like to read again in your 50s a book that you read in your 20s? Books for Youth provides an answer to this question. U Si-min, the author, is a renowned politician in Korea who served as an assemblyman and Minister of Health and Welfare. Before he was a politician, however, he was a major author and commentator in Korea who published inf luential works, including Reading History Backwards and Economics of the Rich, Economics of the Poor. In 2007, U retired from official life, and decided to reread the books he read in his youth. This book, to be sure, is one of the many books on reading out there, but it conveys to readers more than what the other books can offer. In reading this 52 list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010
book, you come to reflect on all the things that have made U the man he is today. Furthermore, you come to ruminate on the past 30 years of world history, during which the world has moved from an era of ideological conflicts to one of an absence of ideology. A total of 14 volumes are introduced in the book. The titles are somewhat formidable: Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky; One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Solzhenitsyn; The Square by Choi In-hoon; The Captain’s Daughter by Pushkin; and The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum by Heinrich Boll. Such timeless novels ta ke up one section. A nother section consists of classics dealing with the principles of human life, including
Mencius by Mencius and The Historical Records by Ssu Ma Chien. Yet another part includes controversial works that had tremendous inf luence on mankind in the 20th century, such as Marx’s The Communist Manifesto, Darwin’s The Origin of Species, and Malthus’s An Essay on the Principle of Population. The greatest charm of this work lies in its dealing with the topic of rereading. It was 30 years ago that the author read these particular books for the first time. Why did he read them at the time? For each book, there was a good reason, one that would probably resonate with those who lived in similar eras. U, who entered college in the late 1970s, read a book that was read by poor college students of 19th century Russia. Just like the youth who lived in an era of ideology resulting from the Cold War and division, he, too, read the same books while anguishing over the present and future of his nation. The books included E. H. Carr’s What Is History? and Marx’s The Communist Manifesto. No book in the world, however, is ever read twice. The reader grows old, and times change. Reading a book again for the first time in 30 years is no different from reading it for the first time. The reader is moved by different things, and sees things he missed in his youth. In reading The Historical Records by Ssu Ma Chien, the reader encounters f igures throughout time that had no choice but to face a tragic end in the face of power. U experiences the anguish of Liu Bang who founded the Han dynasty, and the sorrows of Han Hsien, a faithful subject, excluded from the power struggle despite his loyalty. Above all, he comes to reflect again on the question of what politics is through the people of whom Ssu Ma Chien wrote. In reading The Square by Choi In-hoon, he comes to realize, though belatedly, the perspective of the author who understood better than anyone the reality of the situation between the two Koreas. And in reading The Captain’s Daughter, he sympathizes with Pushkin, the poet, who desperately longed for freedom under the direct censorship of the tsar. Books for Youth is a book about books, but it can be read without pre-reading all the volumes introduced in the book. The author skillfully sheds light on how the books posed meaningful questions on humanity and changed the world. By reading a book, you encounter the world. By Han Mihwa
A Rite of Passage for Growth and Change Good Farewell Kim Hyung-kyung, Prunsoop Publishing Co. Ltd. 2009, 263p, ISBN 978-89-7184-823-4
K im Hyung-kyung, the novelist, has published a number of novels and essay collections since 20 0 0 dea ling wit h psychological themes such as love, sex, and relationships. She takes one theme, and explores the theme through a novel, then through essays. This time, she has taken an interest in the themes of loss and mourning. There’s a good reason why this novelist without expertise in psychoanalysis clings particularly to psychological themes: She suffered from an emotional illness around age 40. At first, she received treatment for a physical illness, but she came to realize that the problem lay in her mind, not her body. From then on, she began to receive psychoanalytical treatments, and to study psychology. The book is a complete recounting of the author’s experience. She tells of her
Sharing and Giving To Go Farther, Walk Together Lee Jong-sun, Woongjin Think Big Co., Ltd. 2009, 303p, ISBN 978-89-01-09843-2
We live in a “winner-take-all” society. In a world where only the winner is given recognition, people do whatever it takes to be the ultimate winner, even trampling on their neighbors and associates. They may succeed, but is theirs a true success? In this book, Lee Jong-sun, an image consultant and the author of Warm Charisma, a bestseller that sold 500,000 copies, talks about her encounters with people who have made it a habit to share with others, people who have warm, generous hearts. The title, To Go Farther, Walk Together, comes from an old African saying that goes, “To go
unhappy childhood, her past relationships, and the difficulty she had in dealing with her sense of want and loss. The collection of essays on psychotherapy, with a candid narration by the author, resonated tremendously with readers. Our life is a succession of farewells, but saying good farewells and mourning well is easier said than done. Furthermore, what we lose is not limited to people we love—we feel a sense of loss as well when we lose honor, power, money, and objects. It’s only natural, therefore, to suffer from an illness of the mind when we suddenly lose our job, or find that our spouse has been unfaithful. Most people, however, do not deal well with their feelings of loss, which leads to a disease of the mind. The author states that the process of losing and mourning lies at the core of psychoanalytical treatment. The strength of this book lies in its literary expression of psychoanalytical terms, such as attachment, mourning, and anger, and examples cited from literature on themes of loss and mourning.
faster, walk alone; but to go farther, walk together.” A director of a foreign finance company, a person who was nominated several times to head the company but failed each time, complained to the U.S. headquarters, based on his performance and capacity. The reply from the headquarters, however, read, “We acknowledge your outstanding ability. You lack a few things, however, that are necessary in becoming a leader. First, you have no sense of humor whatsoever, and you haven’t shown the staff any warmth. In addition, you have never greeted the guards or the cleaning ladies, and neither did you acknowledge them when they greeted you. Therein lies the most serious reason for your disqualification.” Even a finance company, which might seem to place importance only on performance and efficiency, places a great deal of importance on “human warmth” as a qualification for being a leader of people. People who make this world beautiful by giving their best to those they encounter, and by willingly
A case in point is the story of Meursault, the protagonist of The Stranger by Albert Camus. He remains emotionally detached throughout his mother’s funeral. Only the hazy light of the sun has any power over him. Did he really feel no sorrow, though? Kim explains that Meursault resorted to numbness because he couldn’t bear the sense of loss that came over him with the death of his mother. We need to say “good” farewells, not just farewells. Only then can loss be a rite of passage for change and growth, and not for hurt and pain. By Han Mihwa
sharing their talents and wealth—such are the people introduced in this book, a book about learning to live happily together with others. By Richard Hong
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Staying Faithful to Everyday Life Curious Museums of Europe Jeong Jinkook, Munhakdongne Publishing Corp. 2009, 343p, ISBN 978-89-93905-14-4
The author, Jeong Jinkook, is an art critic who visited 19 unusual museums in Europe to write this book. According to Jeong, “In large museums the spectator becomes the spectacle. It is at small museums where you can listen to the stories of nameless artisans in peace that you develop the taste to appreciate true masterpieces.” The museums that Jeong visited are small and relatively unknown, but each one is unique. Take the Romans International Museum of the Shoe in Romans, France, for instance. This museum collects only shoes and pictures of shoes. The author confides that he encountered a work of “heartbreaking genius” here. The piece in question is François Bonvin’s “Shoes of a Reservist Soldier” (1876). Next to the battered shoes of a veteran of the FrancoPrussian War lies a bloody bandage used to wrap injuries incurred from relentless marching. The cottage-turned-museum Alice
A Peek into Japanese Village Life Small Villages of Japan Suh Soonjung, Sallim Life, 2009, 296p ISBN 978-89-5221-271-9
Picture this: tiny ditches running along the road with fish swimming inside them, glimpses of beautiful scenery through narrow a lleys, and unspoiled, rustic countryside. All of these sights can be visited in small villages around Japan. This book is an introduction to 31 villages from all over Japan. None of these villages a re fa mous, nor a re t hey commonly included in travel guides. Usually people think of big cities like Tokyo or Osaka when t h in k ing of Japa n. T he y may think of Kyoto, with its many historical monuments, or famous hot spring resorts. The lives of the real Japanese, however, can be seen in the small villages introduced in this book. The people of Ogimachi thatch their 54 list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010
roofs. The thatching is fixed up every spring and completely changed every 40 or 50 years. The people of Kinosaki light lanterns along the river every night—with candles, not electricity. In Tsumago, there are no electric poles or wires, and all the houses are built of wood. The village has barely changed for 400 years. These villages give the feeling of visiting the past. Hakodate, Hok kaido, is a village with 19 hills. Having a lot of hills may not seem much of a recommendation, but they all have the most memorable names: “The 1,000-year-old Hill,” “Happy Hill,” “Grandfather Hill,” and “The Forever Hill.” It is fun to imagine the stories behind these names while walking up and down the hills. Then there is Dokoname with its quaint walking paths, Kibune and Kurama, fragrant with the scent of cedar, Furano, buried in lavender, and many other villages, each of them unique. The book includes information
Taverne of A mbierle, France, is a lso memorable. The museum is named after a woman who lived in the cottage until 1969. The exhibition is composed of items representative of local life, such as agricultural tools, toys, and fishing nets. There is nothing flashy to make one sit up and take notice, nor any artifacts of historical significance. However, its value as a museum is immeasurable in that it offers a perfect look at post 18th century French country life. Then there is the maritime museum of Genoa, Italy, the marionette museum of Lyon, France, the crystal museum of SaintLouis, France, home to numerous crystal workshops, and many more. This book stands out not only as a travelogue but as a recorder of European history, culture, art, and customs. By Pyo Jeonghun
on transportation to each village, lodging, and sightseeing, which also makes it a useful travel guide. By Pyo Jeonghun
Land of the Unknown, Land of the People Greenland: Walking the Center of the World Noh Naree, Munhakdongne Publishing Corp., 2009, 254p ISBN 978-89-9390-510-6
Noh Naree participated in the production of Korea’s EBS TV documentary “Summer in Greenland.” After 50 days of shooting all around Greenland, she came back and wrote a book. Greenland: Walking the Center of the World tells of the country’s f lora and fauna, history, politics, and culture, as well as the lives of the Inuit and suggestions for prospective travelers to Greenland. The popular image of Greenland is that of a “clean, romantic land.” This book, however, shows the real Greenland that differs from these images. After generations of intermarriage with Danes, few pure Inuit remain. Rapid urbanization has torn families apart, diseases sexual and otherwise are rampant, and the young people are more rebellious than ever. Agriculture is difficult with more than 80 percent of the ground covered with ice. The once-booming cod fishery has also gone downhill since the current changed and the cod drifted away.
Guide to Pop Music for Everyday 365 Days of Pop History Jeong Ilseo, DoddleSaeghim Publishing Co. 2009, 900p, ISBN 978-89-6167-037-1
This book is a guide to the most notable and interesting events for every day of the year throughout rock and pop history, from January 1st to December 31st. The author is a producer of a music program on Korea’s KBS Radio. What happened on the first of January, for instance? On January 1, 1966, Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence” topped the Billboard Chart. On March 1, Jim Morrison of The Doors was arrested for indecent exposure in Miami and found guilty. Open to any page and fascinating anecdotes and major events abound. The most shocking event in the history of rock performance happened on January 20, 1982. Ozzie Osbourne bit off a live bat’s head while performing. Some say that
he thought the bat was a fake thrown by a member of the audience, but the official theory is that Ozzie planned the whole thing. December 14, 1980, was the day that Beatles fans all over the world observed a moment of silence for John Lennon. Lennon was assassinated just six days prior, on December 8th. At two o’clock on the 14th, in Central Park, New York, more than a 100,000 people gathered in honor of the singer. More than 30,0 0 0 pe ople g at hered a s well in Liverpool, England, the hometown of The Beatles. On April 20, 1992, a major concert was held at England’s Wembley Stadium with some of the world’s top stars. The concert was a benefit to raise money for AIDS, as well as a memorial of Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of Queen. Freddie Mercury died of AIDS in 1991. The book
Greenland, however, with its icy fjords, has a beautiful natural environment. As the temperature rises, new attempts are being made at agriculture and beekeeping, as well as building hydroelectric plants that use melted water falling from glaciers. Scientists and entrepreneurs from around the world are scrambling to develop the country’s underground resources. The author expresses concern that such a development rush could be the start of a new imperialist race involving Greenland. This book’s most striking feature is that it shows the reality of Greenland today as it is. The author refrains from indulging in the sentimental musings of a traveler, but writes very objectively of the country’s challenges and potential. The traditional Greenlander way of hunting sea lions and narwhals and how they are processed and retailed is documented vividly. The story of hunting dogs, indispensable to Greenlanders, is also memorable. All in all, this book is a great help in understanding the present and past of Greenland, as well as gaining perspective on its future. By Pyo Jeonghun
also acts as an album guide, featuring the cover art of albums on the day they were released. In addition to the key events of each day, the book also has a corner for other events that occurred on the same day. Readers will be able to gain insights and knowledge into the f low of 20th century pop music history. By Pyo Jeonghun
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The Bold Dreams of a Daring Designer Imaginary Hammer
By Richard Hong
Kang Woo-hyon, Nami Books, 2009, 294p ISBN 978-89-91591-43-1
Graphic designer, children’s book writer, university professor, magazine publisher, and currently, the CEO of Namiseom (island)—Kang Woo-hyon is an eccentric figure that never ceases to seek a new life as a “designer who changes the world.” It was in 2001 that he took the post as the CEO of Namiseom, a popular site for trips by college students in the 1980s and 90s. By 2001, however, it had turned into an unattractive amusement park with nothing but liquor bottles scattered all over the grounds. With no money, and no master plan on hand, Kang made an attempt to transform the island with nothing but his imagination. Through a reversal of thinking, he melted discarded bottles, turning them into tiles, planted dead trees
and Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Now Kang Woo-hyon says, “Imagination means believing in possibilities.” Imagination is the power to make possible the impossible. Namiseom is a place where the magic of imagination can be felt all around.
upside down to catch people’s eyes, and made charmingly misspelled signs under which people could take pictures, smiling brightly. In addition, he treated visiting artists like VIPs, and allowed them to work and rest as they pleased. In this way, Namiseom has changed little by little in the past eight years, thanks to a passionate eccentric. Today, it stands as a popular tourist attraction for 200,000 foreigners a year. The number of Korean visitors to the island, which was 290,000 in 2001, increased to 670,000 in 2002, then to 1.4 million in 2005, then recently, to 2 million. Today, Namiseom is the greatest “land of fairy tales,” and a “land of imagination” in Korea. Napoleon said, “Imagination rules the world,”
The Scientist Who Shook the World A Record of a Thousand Days Suh Nampyo Jee Myounghoon, The Dong-A Media Group 2009, 315p, ISBN 978-89-7090-732-1
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Suh Nampyo is a name that represents the world of science in Korea. Suh was a scientist respected by the scientific world in the United States, and a distinguished professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT, the world-renowned engineering school. In 2006, he returned to Korea with a heart full of love for his home country, and took the post as president of KAIST, with the ambition of “turning KAIST into the best engineering school in the world.” Various projects for reform that he proposed at K A IST were faced with obstacles, such as reinforcing the tenure screening system (a system guaranteeing a permanent post as a professor until retirement), charging poorly performing students tuition, implementing English lectures in all subjects, changing the entrance examination system to focus on character evaluation, setting the direction for EEWS (Energy, Environment, Water,
and Sustainability) research, fortifying high-risk and high-benefit research and interdisciplinary research, establishing a dean-oriented system, and recruiting professors based on their potential for the future. Now, his reforms are successfully taking root. The book records in detail the process and effort it took for the successful execution of these projects. The messages conveyed by President Suh of KAIST breathe with life, such as “Set clear goals,” “Share a vision and let the system do the work,” “Set your passion aflame,” “Eliminate frames,” and “Challenge your limits.” That must be why the lights are burning brightly at K AIST, even when everyone else is asleep. By Richard Hong
Passionate Lives of the Past Madness is Genius Jung Min, Prunyoksa, 2004, 436p ISBN 89-8778-784-2
Madness is Genius collects the stories of people who have dedicated their lives wholly to their passion, against the odds of poverty and low social status. Anecdotes of intellectuals from the Joseon era furnish the background for readers to rethink the meaning of living with passion. This book was one of top best-selling items in the Korean publishing market in the 2000s. With respectable sales to this day, it has proved to be a steady seller.
The author is a professor of classical Korean literature, and one of the most distinguished writers in Korea. Most of the people featured in the book are from Koreaâ€™s Joseon era (1392-1910), particularly from the 18th century. Why the 18th century? At that time, many intellectuals in Joseon showed ma nic tendencies. That is, they showed a tendency to focus obsessively on special areas of interest. Their passion was akin to madness in the
disciplines of their choice. All sorts of obsessives appear in the book: one was mad about mounting pictures, one loved tobacco so much that he wrote a book about it, another wrote the definitive monolith on the care of pet pigeons; one artist was so fond of plum blossoms he used his giant commission from selling his paintings just to buy plum blossoms, while another artist, also crazy about f lowers, grew them himself and painted them; one scholar was so attached to a passage from a history book that he read it more than 100 million times, while another was gifted with a genius for mathematics and astronomy but died in solitude because he was a commoner and everyone was jealous of him. The people in this book were passionately dedicated to worlds of their own, whether or not their work achieved recognition in the real world. Struggling with poverty and prejudice because of their low social status, they gave everything to their passion. That is why their stories make a deep impression upon us today. It also accounts in part for the reason the book became a bestseller in Korea. The book also stands out thanks to the author, an extensive reader of Korean classics, who chose to introduce individuals not generally well known to the public in his book. According to the author, intellectuals of 18th century Joseon were more likely to study a subject of their choice very extensively, from any number of subjects, rather than the traditional Confucianist teachings. This tendency is compared to the EncyclopĂŠdistes of 18th century France during the Enlightenment. The historical context may be different, but it can be seen that there was also an effort to organize and write about vast amounts of knowledge in 18th century Joseon. After this book, more Korean publishers rushed to publish books on intellectuals from that era. The bookâ€™s title also became a catchphrase of sorts. A large number of readers actually read the book as a kind of self-help book on how to live a passionate life. While the individuals in this book are not widely known outside of Korea, each of their stories are so well-illustrated with fascinating details and anecdotes that they are completely accessible to readers unaccustomed to Korean history and culture. By Pyo Jeonghun
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For Dreamers Bon Voyage Lee Woo-il, Sigongsa, 2009, 275p ISBN 978-89-527-5554-4
What’s Wrong with My Child? The Private Life of My Child EBS The Private Life of My Child Production Team Sigongsa, 2009, 439p, ISBN 978-89-527-5598-8
The Private Life of My Child is a book ba se d on a te le v i sion doc u ment a r y program of the same name. The book, published in July 2009, has sold nearly 10 0,0 0 0 c opie s so fa r, a n explosive response unprecedented for a book on education. The accomplishment of this book lies not in introducing original theories on childcare, but in its neat summary of key theories on childcare, and verification of those theories through experimentation. For parents, the book’s greatest merit lies in the easy, convenient access to all the cutting edge theories. The collaboration on the book by the 58 list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010
Ever yone wou ld a gree t hat t he best part about traveling is the time spent planning and dreaming. A smile spreads spontaneously across your face as you buy travel guides, make reservations, and pack clothes to wear on the trip. It’s a lot of fun to choose books to read on the trip, as well. Lee Woo-il, the author of Bon Voyage, says that he takes classics, or books that are difficult to read, when he travels. Why? Because when you travel, there are so many fascinating things besides a book; but when you’re at home, you may need a fascinating book to keep boredom at bay. He’s right. In that respect, all books on travel are for dreamers who can’t actually get up and leave. Bon Voyage, a book by cartoonist and illustrator Lee, is exactly the kind of book that should be read at home. You may be slouched on a couch, but your heart can wander around different places with the author. The book unfolds with the author’s narration on why he loves to travel, and the experiences and thoughts he had while traveling, accompanied with illustrations by the author himself. Things don’t always go the way you want just because you’re
traveling. At one time, the author had to sleep in fear in a hotel room infested by cockroaches, and at another time, he arrived at his destination only late into the night because he couldn’t find his way in the darkness in an unfamiliar place. On the other hand, though, traveling presents you with pleasant surprises. Eating a delicacy at a nameless restaurant and visiting the local market early in the morning are experiences never to be forgotten. Thus, the author leaves again and again for Japan, Bali, Havana, Mexico, and Australia. The book is full of episodes in which he asks himself trivial questions, such as “Should I take a picture or not?” “Should I drive or not?” and finds unexpected pleasures. You t ravel to e sc ape re a l it y a nd mundane everyday life, but in the end, you always return. And life is still mundane when you do. Traveling doesn’t change our daily life in any way. Nevertheless, it gives us an opportunity to go back to our daily lives and start afresh. In that respect, all travel is good travel, or “bon voyage.”
finest experts in the field, such as Howard Gardner, John Manning, Leonard Sax, and Professors Kwak Keumjoo and Moon Yong-lin of Seoul National University, further raises its credibility. The book introduces five principles on childcare of which parents must be aware. These five principles are so important that once you know them, you begin to see children in a different way. First, the book talks about the secrets of the human brain, the differences between boys and girls, and the multiple intelligence theory, so that parents may correctly understand their children’s abilities. It also explains the morality and self-esteem required for children to grow into happy, successful adults. Reading the book, parents come to realize that the exasperated question, “What’s wrong with my child?” has its roots in their own misunderstanding. Even Einstein was considered to have a learning disability because adults didn’t understand the secrets of the human brain. For Einstein, the growth of the part of the brain in charge of linguistic development came gradually. The part in charge of spatial thinking and calculation, however, was highly developed. In addition, the
reason why adults scold boys in their early teens for not being attentive is that they are not yet aware of the differences between boys and girls. For boys, muscles develop first, and for girls, thinking and linguistic abilities. As they grow into adults, differences in intellectual capacity between males and females disappear. Thus, parents of boys must first learn to be patient. The role of parents is to f ind the hidden talents, and not the shortcomings, of their children. The book expounds on this time-old belief in a way that is both scientific and practical.
By Han Mihwa
By Han Mihwa
Read the World! 100 Laws that Drive the World Lee Young-jik, Smart Business 2009, 271p, ISBN 978-89-92124-65-2
Our Happy Hours Have Not Fled Papepopo Rainbow Sim Seung-hyeon, Wisdomhouse Publishing Co. Ltd., 2009, 218p, ISBN 978-89-5913-410-6
The “Papepopo” series is a series of bestsel lers t hat, wit h hea r t wa rming stories and pastel-toned illustrations, has established itself as the original “cartoon essay.” The series began with Papepopo Memories in 2002, followed by Papepopo Together and Papepopo Andante, which recorded sales of over two million copies. The old-fashioned story of love between “Pape,” a pure and innocent young man, and “Popo,” a tender-hearted girl, comfort the weary heart and call attention to the value of true love, the importance of family, and the meaning of friendship. Papepopo Rainbow is the fourth volume in the series, and the first to come out in two and a half years. As in the previous
Countless laws—Murphy’s law, the broken window law, the 80/20 law, Longtail’s law, Heinrich’s law, the law of inertia—exist in the world, and countless books on these laws stock the shelves of bookstores. How closely are these laws related to our life? Lee Young-jik, a management consultant and a bestselling author, selected out of all the laws that exist 100 important laws that drive the world. He also explains how these laws came to be, and the various ways in which they are applied in the world. Reading about the 100 laws will not only give you knowledge, but will lead you to discover the logic behind the world in which you live, and may even change your life. W hy is the English computer keyboard, with the QWERTY layout, arranged in such a difficult way? The “ law of iner t ia” in nat u ra l scienc e s can also be applied to human life and
work—when we do things, we tend to stick to familiar ways. In the days when people used typewriters, problems often occurred because they typed too fast and the bars clashed together. As a result, the consonants and vowels on the keyboard were rearranged in such a way that people would have to type more slowly. The new layout was the QWERTY layout. With advancement in technology, people switched from typewriters to computers, and type bar clashes no longer occur. Still, people continue to use the QWERTY layout to this day. This is the “law of inertia” that exists in the human world.
volumes, it brings to light the meaning of precious truths found in daily life, which can be easily overlooked. The narrator notes, “Our happy hours have not f led; we have simply forgotten them.” Stories buried deep within our consciousness are brought back to life. The book speaks of a life in which you find your own beautiful colors in the complex spectrum of life and create a rainbow; a life in which you find hope on your own. It states that a rainbow, considered something elusive and far-off, is actually something that begins at your feet, and that you can be the one to raise it up. Ultimately, the author seeks to speak of a life in which you take the initiative, one in which you “raise up a rainbow even on cloudy days.” Under seven key words that bring hope into life—dreams, love, tears, peace, harmony, passion, and rainbows—the book unfolds with lyrical illustrations and contemplative words. The characters, more mature than in the previous volume, shed light on various aspects of life. The perspective of the author, seeing the bright side of life and rediscovering the value of daily life, has grown in both depth and width: “The mother’s graying hair, the father’s calloused fingers, and the baby’s blissful smile—some things are so
beautiful that they break the heart just by existing.” Wo u l d s u c h a n a n a l o g u e - s t y l e sensibi lit y work in t his d igit a l era? Wouldn’t it seem passé? The phenomenal success of the series, however, has proven that such worries were in vain. Issued in October 2009, it sold 100,000 copies within its first month.
By Richard Hong
By Kim Jinwoo
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Reviews Graphic Novels
A Historical Site Full of Sorrow Namhansanseong Kwon Ga-ya, Gobooky Books 2008, ISBN 978-89-92479-43-1 (set)
Na m ha nsa nseong , a for tress on t he outskirts of Seoul, is a historical site tainted by sorrow and disgrace. When an army of 100,000 soldiers, led by Emperor Hong Taiji of the Qing dynasty, rushed in like
waves in 1636, King Injo of Joseon and his subjects fled to the fortress and fiercely resisted the enemies for 47 days. In the end, however, the king stepped out of the fortress and surrendered. At Samjeondo, he formed an alliance of submission by “bowing three times and bowing his head nine times” to Hong Taiji. The author created a stir with his work s, including Sun and Moon and Man’s Story, featuring unique characters, an extreme imagination, and bold line drawings. “Namhansanseong” begins by stating “Namhansanseong is a shackle; a shackle of Joseon, a shackle of history. Are we free from the shackle of those who lived in that era?” The work, to be published in a total of six volumes, unfolds speedily through the history of the Japanese invasion of Korea in 1592, the first Manchu invasion of Korea in 1627, and the second Manchu invasion of Korea in 1636. No “heroes” appear in this work; only the countless
A Love Story Hovering Between Reality and Fantasy If Thou Must Love Me Yang Wooseok, Munhak Segyesa Publishing Co. 2009, ISBN 978-89-7075-465-9 (set)
If Thou Must Love Me is a book titled after the poem of the same name by the British poet, Elizabeth Barrett Browning. An earnest inquiry into the theme of “eternal love” is subtly embodied in a story with poetic resonance. The book also features “The Waste Land” by T.S. Eliot, “My One and Only Love” by Sting, as well as poems by Browning. The protagonist, a psychiatrist who loves to “play the field,” believes that there is no eternal love, for love is nothing more than a chemical reaction of hormones. Although he dates a countless number of women, he doesn’t, on principle, date one for more than 100 days, during which the 60 list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010
hormones are actively secreted. Suddenly, however, his life is turned upside down when he meets a woman named Miho at a hospice after he has been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor. Miho, a symbol of eternal love, is an enigma. Indeed, she is the embodiment of men’s romantic fantasy. Through the encounter, parting, and reunion of Miho and the protagonist, the book presents a new perspective on true love, veiled by vain ambitions and false egos. It is only in his final moment that the protagonist comes to a belated realization: Love, begun through physical bodies under the influence of hormones, is much too immature and foolish to embody eternity; unchanging love can be spoken of only when one has learned to forgive the other, and forgive oneself. Originally conceived as a screenplay,
tales of those who lived through a history of loss and humiliation flow through the work like a river. The story takes place in Dochonri, a southern town of Joseon where rape and massacre took place throughout the invasion of the Japanese army. The pain and rage of those who were brutally violated in the whirl of history are revealed through rough lines and empty spaces. What the author ultimately seeks to portray is the terrible truth that must be faced by all. He seeks to sing of the tenacious hold on life that has persevered despite a history of humiliation. He states, “We have raised hatred and resentment onto a higher level. We swa llow our anger, and endure, without hatred against anyone; this is our sorrow, our song, our tears.” The three volumes that have been published—The Japanese Invasion, The Winter of Sorrow, and The Downfall—are alight with poetic lines full of existential questions, which are characteristic of the author. The minute details and bold effects keep the story captivating as well. Each moment of this historical drama is rife with tension. By Kim Jinwoo
the work unfolds through the protagonist’s long narrations. In addition, the vivid illustrations hold the reader’s eye. The story of love hovers between reality and fantasy, but it is also something that can happen right beside us. The book was awarded the 2009 Korean Graphic Novel Award. By Kim Jinwoo
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Reviews Children's Books
Understanding the Roots of Korean Spirituality Jongmyo, Where Gods and Humans Meet Yoon Yeorim; Illustrator: Kim Sehyun Woongjin ThinkBig Co., Ltd, 2009, 36p ISBN 978-89-01-09927-9
Jongmyo shrine in Seoul is one of Koreaâ€™s most well-known tourist attractions; 290,000 foreign tourists visited in 2009 alone. The Joseon dynasty, which ruled the Korean peninsula for about 500 years starting from the 14th century, adopted Confucianism. According to Confucian tradition, after death ancestors become gods and are worshipped as such. Jongmyo was built as a royal shrine for that purpose. The main hall of Jongmyo, known as Jeongjeon, is composed of 19 rooms in a row and is the longest wooden building in the world that was built during that era. Jongmyo was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1995 for its unique architectural style which is not found anywhere else in the world. During the Joseon era, people believed that after one dies, the spirit left the body and rose to the heavens and the body eventually returned to soil. The bodies of kings and queens were buried in royal tombs that were located throughout Korea and their spirits were believed to
be contained in the memorial tablets in front of each tomb. Three years following a royal death, descendants would move the memorial tablets to Jongmyo from their tombs. People believed that the royal spirits then became patron saints protecting the country. Jongmyo, Where Gods and Humans Meet was written, with accompanying illustrations, to help children better understand the meaning of Jongmyo. Both large and small-scale memorial services have been held there for hundreds of years. People today still believe that if we, the descendants, perform heartfelt memorial services, the spirits of our ancestors will be pleased and give us blessings. Therefore, most families hold traditional memorial services in their homes. The memorial services at Jongmyo were performed by a king and were very solemn and splendid events. W hile many court musicians played music, a king marched to the shrine followed by many courtiers clad in colorful costumes, creating a magnificent sight. On sangwoldae (a stone staircase to the left that leads to the palace), the upper courtyard, musicians played music for the heavens, and on hawoldae (lower stone staircase that leads to the palace), the lower courtyard, musicians performed music for those on earth. In between the upper and the lower courtyard, dancers performed the Ilmu (a dance where performers stand in line), which symbolized humans. This ritual performance illustrates the spiritual
world of the Joseon people in which they believed that they would live in peace when the will of the heavens, the power of the earth, and the efforts of humans mixed in harmony. The book follows a memorial service at Jon g myo for a n ent i re d ay f rom beginning to end. The point of view of the humans and that of the gods are revealed simultaneously. While Christian rituals put God above people, in Confucian rituals both humans and gods meet on an equal level in harmony. When a king alights from his palanquin and walks to the front courtyard of the main hall, the gods come near him. When humans wish for peace for their country, the gods listen to their wishes. The scene where humans and gods dance together is one of the best scenes of the book. The simply drawn line figures seem to come alive. The pages unfold so readers are able to experience a panoramic view of the long, beautiful Jeongjeon. While a building is a physical space t hat hu ma ns ma ke to accommodate their needs, it is also a psychological and cultural space that leaves traces of past thoughts and ideas. If one can understand the meaning of Jongmyo, then they can come one step closer to the roots of the Korean spiritual world. This book was selected as the Best Illustrated Book in 2009 by weekly magazine SisaIN. By Kim Ji-eun
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Reviews Children's Books
Countryside Adventures with Granny Where Are You Off To, Granny? I Am Off To Dig Up Some Mugworts! Cho Hae-ran, Bori Publishing Co., Ltd., 2009, 57p ISBN 978-89-8428-581-1
Many city people think old people in the country live in a backward way. However, that is not the case in this book. The countryside described in this book has no traffic noise or exhaust, and its streets are not paved with asphalt. There are green trees and grass is everywhere. Children playing outside feel safe and discover endlessly interesting things in nature. Houses with low walls do not block the sky. Small birds build their nests close to people’s houses without fear. Old people enjoy themselves while doing farm work that they have always done without being daunted by new technologies, unlike people in the city. Ogi, the heroine, and her grandmother
Cry It Out! Sea of Tears Seo Hyun, Sakyejul Publishing Ltd., 2009, 39p ISBN 978-89-5828-405-5
“A sea of tears” is a phrase found in the Korean language. The lexical definition of the phrase means “a lot of people in the same place crying at the same time.” Seo Hyun, the author, seems to have derived
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live together in a farming village near the sea. In spring, they gather wild greens for their meals and sell the rest at a market. The market is full of small shops and disorderly street stalls, which easily attract Ogi’s attention. Her grandmother buys her toys with the money she earns and saves the rest in an empty bottle for Ogi’s future. Though it seems that her grandmother is too old and weak to maintain their livelihood, she is able to live a healthy life in her small hometown. In children’s books, grandmothers are usually the best heroines: they are diligent and generous; they take the children’s sides, pretend not to see their mistakes, and teach family traditions in interesting ways. Ogi’s grandmother is one such grandmother. She cuts Ogi’s hair, blows soap bubbles, and shoos away a dog that Ogi is afraid of. “You are the best!” Ogi proudly says to her grandmother. This first book in the series is com-
the motif for her book from the phrase. In the book, however, she does not depict the “sea of tears” as a group of people crying together, but as a real sea, overf lowing with tears shed by the child protagonist. As with all picture books, readers should pay keen attention to the illustrations. Each scene contains just one or two lines of text; nearly the entire story is told through the illustrations. The story grows richer as the reader pays greater attention to the pictures, as though solving a picture puzzle. The book starts out with a child f row ning in a cla ssroom, his ha nd s wrapped around his head. He looks dejected, with no test answers coming to his mind. He looks dejected in the second scene as well when he doesn’t want to swallow the vegetables in his mouth. The cook is watching him with a menacing look. It is in the fourth scene that the child finally bursts out crying. “It’s not my fault! She started it!” he shouts, but the teacher pulls his ear. He steps out of school, feeling as gloomy as a dark cloud when raindrops begin to fall. Unlike his friends, no one comes to pick him up, so he runs home, shielding himself with a box. A greater
posed of three stories with illustrations that were once published in a children’s magazine. While many other authors are interested in expressing nostalgia about farming villages through old-fashioned scenes, this author describes modern farming villages in a bright and pleasant way. By Yeo Eul-hwan
disaster, however, is waiting at home. His parents are in a blazing fight, baring their teeth like dinosaurs. To add to the injury, his mother scolds him for not finishing his dinner. When he lies down in his bed in the dark room, feeling sad and lonely, he can’t stop the tears from flowing. When he wakes up the next morning, he is surrounded, to his surprise, by a sea of tears. His monster parents, the teacher who had pulled his ear, and the cook who had glared at him and forced him to eat his vegetables, are all flailing in the sea. He, however, has a grand old time navigating the sea on his bed. But he must reconcile himself with the grownups that made him cry. But how? The answer is simple. Plenty of picture books show children crying. However, no picture book has ever shown a literal sea of tears, af loat with people who give children a hard time. And not many books have succeeded in overcoming pain and loneliness with such a witty and clever ending. The subtle catharsis brings a smile, across the reader’s face after finishing A Sea of Tears. By Oh Yunhyun
Reviews Children's Books
DMZ, A Land of Beautiful Tragedy The Lost Land Choi Byungkwan, Borim Press, 2009, 96p ISBN 978-89-433-0772-1
On t he Kore a n pen i nsu la e x ist s a n extraordinary place: the DMZ, a four km wide, 249.4 km long line that divides the North from the South. In July 1953, the soldiers on the two sides waged a fierce war that lasted for over three years. It didn’t seem that the war would ever end, despite the growing casualties. Finally, the UN stepped in to arbitrate, proposing a ceasefire. As a result, the soldiers on the two sides called a truce on the battlefield, and raised 1,292 signs between Paju, Gyeonggi-do (province), and Goseong, Ga ng won-do, i nd ic at ing a m i l it a r y demarcation line. The DMZ, a “land of tragedy,” came to exist. How has the place changed in 50 years? Choi Byungkwan, the photographer,
I Can Do It! The Importance of Thinking Kim Minhwa; Illustrator: Park Yoonji, Sun & Tree 2009, 127p, ISBN 978-89-6268-036-2
asked the same question. For two years, he traveled through every nook and cranny of the place with a camera, and found out firsthand that the Korean peninsula is still engaged in a war. The DMZ was still not a place one could visit freely, and the soldiers on both sides still had their rifles pointed at each other. Gun shells and punctured steel helmets from years ago were scattered around the fortress-like barbed wires. Despite the possibility of military conflict, however, there was more than just sorrow and tension there. With no humans coming and going for half a century, the place had become a paradise of flora and fauna, with a beautiful forest, f lowers, and birds and goats that travel freely. The author presents the beauty of the place through photographs, and states that it should be preserved as a scene of history, even if reunif ication takes place. He suggests that the vestiges of the war, such as the rusted bullets, steel helmets, barbed
Some children feel nervous and their confidence, if any, disappears when they try to talk to others. They think that no matter what they try to do, they cannot do it well. Feeling defeated, they worry even before they start something and sometimes end up being misunderstood because they cannot express their thoughts or desires. Many times, they feel very angry but, on top of that, they continue to feel anxious because they are unable to express those feelings. What do these children need to do to regain a positive self-image and become confident again? The Importance of Thinking is a selfhelp book for children who suffer from a lack of self-confidence. Through each story, the author gives a step-by-step guide on how to deal with psychological hardships whether big or small, and how to logically organize and express one’s thoughts. The author advises readers to discipline their will, in other words practice self-control. Rather than silently enduring, with the help of this book, children will find their potential and learn to love themselves. The book’s biggest merit is that the guidelines are concrete and systematic. The author, a psychologist who has vast
wires, and the ruined trenches, should remain untouched so that our posterity may learn of the tragedy of war. Each photograph holds a powerful message. The barbed wires that stand between the South and the North create a feeling of tension, as well as sorrow, and the wild chrysanthemums blossoming up from under the iron fence are resplendent in their beauty. By Oh Yunhyun
experience in child development clinical studies, says that this book is written for children in limbo in between ‘young children’ and ‘juveniles.’ The stories are so true to life that those children will see them as their own. It is not ju st adu lt s who feel t he dif f icu lties of smoot h, persona l relationships; children a lso feel that dealing with others can be very difficult. It is not always easy to take advice to help solve daily conflicts. However, this book will surely inspire a healthy self-respect in children growing up in this competitive society. By Kim Ji-eun
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Reviews Children's Books
Kid Detectives Delve into History Detective, Save the UNESCO Memory of the World Illustrator: Gwak Seongwha Changbi Publishers, Inc, 2009, 184p ISBN 978-89-364-4595-9
Early on, Koreans realized the importance of records and therefore developed printing techniques. As they looked for ways to hand down wisdom to their descendents, they built organizations and systems to leave historic records; they also invented the first movable metal type so that they could print those records. Jikji (Jikji Simche Yojeol), an ancient K ore a n Budd h i s t b o ok , w h ic h w a s confirmed as the world’s oldest metal print book by UNESCO in 2001, was printed in 1377 at Heungdeok-sa (temple). It was 78 years before the Gutenberg Bible, which had been believed as the world’s oldest metalloid type, was published. Also, the Tripitaka Koreana, or Palman Da eja ng g ye ong , wh ic h i s a K ore a n collection of Buddhist scriptures carved onto approx imately 80,0 0 0 wooden
Turning a Tiresome Task into Play Gichan the Brilliant Kim Euneuy, Prooni Books, Inc., 2009, 104p ISBN 978-89-5798-198-6
For children, the world is always a fun and exciting place, with endless new possibilities. Everything from sleeping, reading, eating, and studying, to putting on clothes, brings them pleasure and fun. The fun disappears, however, when adults and school come into the picture, and the world turns into a deflated balloon. Not only that, the adults give children an even harder time by nagging them to “go study,” “wake up early,” and “stop making a racket.” Gichan, the main character of Gichan the Brilliant, is a boy who loves to have fun. He, too, however, is bombarded with school life and his parents’ nagging. Then one morning, he realizes all of a sudden that he doesn’t like his life, which consists of going to school, studying, eating lunch, coming home, playing, studying, eating 66 list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010
dinner, and going to bed. From that day on, he begins to turn difficult, tiresome tasks into fun and exciting play. First, he turns himself into Jammanbo the Sleep Monster (a cartoon character), because he doesn’t like getting up in the morning. Jammanbo is a monster that gathers strength through sleep and transforms itself into a powerful object. Gichan’s mother, unaware of the change, wakes Gichan out of sleep. Not wanting to listen to her nagging at him, Gichan wraps himself up in the blanket, turning himself into a pillow this time. After a game of pillows with his family, he turns himself into a jet plane; then he washes his face, puts on his clothes, and eats his breakfast at the speed of a jet. He even runs to school, zooming like a jet, and when he gets there, school has become a place of fun and games. When he comes back home, he doesn’t want to hear his mom telling him to do his homework and go to bed on time. So this time, he starts a “backwards game.”
printing blocks, is the world ’s oldest version of Buddhist sutras in Chinese script. This book, Detective, Save the UNESCO Memory of the World, deals with seven Korean cultural artifacts, including Jikji and Tripitaka Koreana, which are recognized by the UNESCO Memory of the World program. This book is not merely a heritage guidebook but a wellstructured detective stor y, making it fun for readers. Two curious children, Detective and Wise, follow the traces of lost history while fighting against dark forces that try to interrupt the construction of the Written Cultural Heritage Museum. Through these children’s activities, readers learn about the importance of records and the importance of preserving hu ma n bei ng s’ c u lt u ra l herit a ge to preserve the spirit contained therein. This book received the 13th Grand Prize in Excellence in Children’s Books by the Changbi Publishers, Inc. in 2010. By Kim Ji-eun
The clock begins to go “Tock-tick, tocktick,” and when he does a headstand and looks at the bookshelf, the book titles read differently. He calls his mother “rehtom,” and his father “rehtaf,” and they, too, enjoy the game. Schools and cram schools will always push children to study harder, and all the parents in the world will a lways nag at them to wake up early and wash thoroughly. Gichan the Brilliant advises schools and parents to let children be free to run around and have fun. A child who can turn stifling reality into a game, like Gichan, is a happy child. Wouldn’t it be great if all the children in the world could be as happy as he? By Oh Yunhyun
Traditional Culture Books Showcased Solgeonara Series Lee Jongchul, et al.; Illustrator: Lee Chungil et al., Borim Press ISBN 978-89-433-0523-9
In nonfiction books for children, the most popular subject after animals and nature is traditional culture. Solgeonara, a book series on traditional culture, has been popular since it was first published in 1995. Among the 30 books that have been published under this series, some are currently out of print and nine titles have been printed more than 20 times and have been revised, leaving a total of 14 titles available. This series is composed of folk literature and nonfiction. Illustrations that accompany the text display the illustrators’ talent. Mr. Hanji, one of the most popular books of this series, shows how to make paper. Korean paper, hanji, has been used not only to make books and art crafts, but also to make furniture and containers since the paper absorbs water well but is
still durable and the colors do not change ea sily. Four lit t le c a r toon cha racter heroes—a roll of paper, a brush, an ink stick, and an ink stone–present how each tool is used. In another story, Breathing Jar, the main character is a little jar who shows how jars are made and used. Like the way humans breathe, air comes in and out of the jar through tiny gaps in clay and sand to help with fermentation and the storage of food. Here are two books about myths. According to an oral legend, there lived a giant called Grandmother Mago. Long ago the sky and the earth were stuck together and it was dark all the time. One day Grandmother Mago woke up and pushed the sky up and off above her head. After she ate soil, rocks, and trees, she threw
up and went poo; the heaps became high mountains. The illustrator of Grandmother Mago created some pages fold-out, a three and four times longer so that the readers could better enjoy the images, like the giant creating the universe, at a glance. Dangun Mythology explains why Koreans say they are all from the same blood. It is said that the first ancestor Dangun is the son born between the son of a sky god and a woman who was once a bear. In this story, a bear and a tiger go through a set of tests to become human. The color of buildings is the subject of Painting Bird. Korean Buddhist temples and palaces built with wood are impressive with splendid colors inside and outside of the buildings. The coloring prevents the wood from cracking and rotting. It also helps express humans’ religious awe and dignity. This story is created around the legend of a stranger who beautifully painted the temple buildings that turned into a Buddhist bird with colorful feathers. This book, complete with a mysterious heroine and colorful illustrations is simply amazing. Koreans use animals to symbolize the year they are born. 2009 was the year of the Ox and 2010 is the year of the Tiger. Stories of the Twelve Zodiac Signs is about the stories of the rat, cow, tiger, rabbit, and others that control the world each year. Representing the concept of direction and time with the 12 animals started in China in the 7th or 8th century. Travelling to Goguryeo dea ls with ancient daily lifestyles and the beliefs of Goguryeo. The hero and heroine go inside a tomb to meet people who lived 1,500 years ago; they go hunting with them and meet gods in the heavens. Using traditional techniques, the illustrator reproduced the beauty of the tomb murals. The Goddess of a Kitchen is about a goddess who controls fire in the fireplace and guards the family’s happiness. The way in which, in traditional societ y, women who run the kitchen constantly wished for the help and blessings of this goddess, is well described in this book. We Will Make Kimchi Today is about kimchi, the famous fermented Korean food. Mice try to make kimchi after they see how people make it. Rice Cakes is also about food culture. Koreans imagine that rabbits live on the moon and pound rice in a mortar. The colorful rice cakes that the white rabbits make are related to events each month. By Yeo Eul-hwan
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Meet the Publishers
The Cradle of Modern Korean Literature Since its establishment in 1954, Hyundae Munhak has brought forth major novelists and poets representing the Korean literary world. In 2010, Hyundae Munhak, the oldest monthly literary journal in Korea, celebrates its 55th year with an anthology of modern and contemporary Korean literature slated for publication at the end of the year.
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Hyundae Munhak, the publishing house, has served as a living witness of modern Korean literature, walking in step with modern Korean history. Established in 1954, a year in which the vestiges of the Korean War still remained, it launched Hyundae Munhak, a monthly literary journal, a year later in 1955. The first issue was published in the ruins of the Korean War, during which all existing literary journals had seen their demise. Kim Gi-o, the journal’s publisher, lamented, “What a deplorable shame, and an attestation to cultural insensitivity that not a single literary journal exists in an independent nation!” Since then, it has carried on its tradition as the oldest existing literary monthly in Korea. As befits its long history, Hyundae Munhak has brought forth major novelists, poets, and critics representing the Korean literary world. World-renowned novelists such as Pak Kyongni and Jo Jung-rae, and poets such as Ko Un and Hwang Tong-gyu, made their literary debut through Hyundae Munhak. A total of
selected poems by Kim Chun-soo and his last poetry collection, Dayflower, the most recent work by poet Hwang Tonggyu, titled A Winter Night at 00:05 Hours, and the history and the landscape of lives during the Korean War depicted in the essays of Yu Jong-ho in That Winter and Fall have also been published by Hyundae Munhak. Not only that, the publisher continues to bring outstanding works by overseas writers into Korea. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, the Afghani writer who defected to the United States, wa s tra nslated into Korea n a nd wa s received with great response with sales of 100,000 copies. The Devotion of Suspect X (Yogisha X no Kenshin), a novel by Keigo Higashino, a popular mystery writer in Japan, sold 200,000 copies in Korea, and other major works by the author continue to be published in Korea by Hyundae Munhak. The publisher is especially devoted to introducing great works from France to Korea, including those by Michel Tournier, Shan Sa, Joel Egloff, and 588 writers, including novelists Choi Ilnam, Lee Mun-ku, Choi In-ho, poets Mah Chonggi, Jeong Hyeon-jong, Oh Kyu-won, and critics Kim Yoonshik, made their debut through Hyundae Munhak as well. Land by Pak Kyongni, a saga that left a great legacy to Korean literature, was serialized in Hyundae Munhak from 1969, and Taebaek Mountain Range, another saga by Jo Jungrae, was serialized from 1983. Both works, major sagas dealing with the modern history of Korea, have been translated into different languages and published around the world. Hy un d a e Munhak, c elebr at i ng it s 55th anniversary this year without having missed a single issue, launched its 661th issue in January 2010 with a special feature of autobiographical short stories dealing with the lives of major novelists in Korea, including Park Wan-suh, Yang Gui-ja, Youn Humyong, and Jo Kyung-ran. In add ition, Hy u ndae Mu n ha k established the “Hyundae Munhak Award” in 1956, and has since awarded outstanding writers in the categories of fiction, poetry, and criticism every year, publishing their works in annual anthologies. Since 1993, anthologies such as Fiction of the Year Selected by Critics and Poetry of the Year Selected by Critics, both containing work demonstrating an aesthetically experimental spirit, have been published every year. Wherever That Place Is, a novel by Lee Seung-woo, nominated twice as a candidate for the Prix Fémina of France, and His House, by Park Wan-suh, a collection of
Jean-Phillippe Toussaint. Hyundae Munhak has been the cradle of great writers for a long time, but in recent years, it has been somewhat slow in publishing works by Korean writers. With the publication of Just Say Sorry, a novel by the young writer Lee Kiho, serialized on the Internet in 2009, the publisher seeks to focus its efforts on continuing the publication of Korean novels. In addition, an anthology of modern and contemporary Korean literature is slated for publication around the end of the year. Hyundae Munhak publishes not only literature, but books in various other genres as well, including humanities a nd t he a r t s. Wit h t he lau nc h of a subsidiary brand, Polabooks, in 2007, Hyundae Munhak is establishing itself as a comprehensive publishing house with publications in various genres, such as genre literature, social sciences, the economy, and management. By Lee Yeong-gyeong (reporter for The Kyunghyang Shinmun)
1. 50 Years Hyundae Munhak 2. Looking Back As the Sun Sets Park Wan-suh et al., 2010, 286p ISBN 978-89-7275-457-2
3. The Stain Park Seong-won, 2009, 382p ISBN 978-89-7275-451-0 4. Just Say Sorry Lee Kiho, 2009, 243p ISBN 978-89-7275-450-3 5. Where That Place Is Lee Seung-woo, 2007, 305p ISBN 978-89-7275-398-8
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Meet the Publishers
Baram Books A Publisher Overflowing with Creativity and Energy
Baram Books (Wind Child) has discovered new authors and new works and has created a boom of books for young adults. They have experimented by gathering new author’s works and publishing a collection under the title Baram Short Stories. They helped foster exchanges between domestic and foreign authors by inviting French author, Susie Morgenstern, to Korea. Recently, Baram Books started working on exporting copyrights to overseas book markets. “Baram’s books give a cool and pleasant breeze; they roll off the tongue with a clear voice,” says Park Yejin, a first year middle schooler and regular reader of Baram Books. In Seoul, if you go past hanok, traditional Korean houses, and climb up the stone steps of one of them, you will find a twostory house at the end of a blind alley. That is where the publisher is located. The day I visited was a couple of days after Seoul recorded the most snowfall in 100 years. Past the front gate, mischievous looking snowmen greeted me. While other publishers, walking on the safe side, have published famous authors’ works, Baram has been different. In the process of wondering why children’s literature and young adult’s literature had not grown in comparison with translated books in the Korean children book market, Baram found the answer: they needed to find new authors and new works. Rather than depending on the literary world’s existing process, they trusted their readers’ critical eyes and editors’ judgment. Since the early stages of the company’s foundation, they have focused on finding budding authors. The first book Baram published was new author Park Yong-gi’s scientific mystery The Secret Behind the Number 64. Upon release, the book was selected for its excellence as a science book, named
the staircase leading up to Baram Books
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one of Korea’s top 100 books, and sold copyrights to the U.S. and Germany. That was only the beginning of what Baram changed. W hen they decided that young adult literature was not as developed as children’s literature, they became pioneers by publishing Banol, a young adult literature series, in 2002. The first book of the series, I Died One Day became a steady seller and was critically acclaimed for opening a new era of young adult literature. As a testimony to its popularity, a record number of school libraries carried I Died One Day. While the industry trend was to find new authors based on their full-length novels, Baram experimented by collecting and publishing new authors’ short stories, which otherwise could have easily been ignored. Up until now, a total of five books have been published under the title Baram Collections. This has broken the entrance barrier and cleared the stage for new authors to be introduced. These anthologies also became fresh stimuli for established authors and offered readers the opportunity to enjoy short stories. The authors who debuted through Baram Collections have since published full-length novels through various other public literary contests and have come to play active roles in the literary world. A small publishing company has become a success by pursuing and discovering potential writers without depending on existing trends. Baram will continue to work on Baram Collections with their determination to discover new authors. The new wave that Baram is creating reaches beyond the borders of Korea. In 2008, in cooperation with the French
Embassy in Korea, Baram invited French author Susie Morgenstern to Korea to partake in various e vent s suc h a s meet i ng s w it h readers, librarians, and authors. B a r a m B o o k s’ b o o k s e r i e s are Almi Picture Books aimed at toddlers, Dol for six-to-nine-yearolds, Nops for 10-to-13-year-olds, and Banol for teenagers. They are active in selling copyrights to overseas markets. English translations are available for many books: A Busy Family, which became even more popular after it was made into a musical; I Died One Day, which will soon be made into a movie; The Secret Behind the Number 64, of which the copyrights have already been sold to a number of countries; and Sleeping Beauty? Hardly!, which is a parody of the classic story Sleeping Beauty. The publisher is planning to expand overseas communications using their networks in China, Turkey, France, a nd ot her countries so t hat a nyone interested in their books can conveniently review them. Bara m Book s drea ms about a world where freedom, differences, and relationships are respected. They work hard to come up with fresh, energizing stories so that children, their main readers, can live in such a world. Many people are looking forward to seeing which direction Baram Books will uniquely lead the children’s literature industry.
By Kim Ji-eun (editorial board member)
1. You at the Moment Kim Yijeong et al., 2009, 276p ISBN 978-89-90878-87-8 2. Easy to Break, Unbreakable Kim Hyejin et al., 2007, 218p ISBN 978-89-90878-48-9 3. The Princess's Downy Jacket Jun Seunghee et al., 2007, 216p ISBN 978-89-90878-50-2 4. Run, Wheel! Choi Junggeum et al., 2006, 276p ISBN 978-89-90878-32-8 5. A House to Make Ghosts Weep HanPark Soonwoo et al., 2007, 108p ISBN 978-89-90878-42-7 6. Is Shimchung Really that Great? Lee Kyunghye, 2008, 176p ISBN 978-89-90878-54-0 7. The Smart Zoo Joelle Jolivet, 2009, 40p ISBN 978-89-90878-77-9
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Recommended by Publishers Korean editors have handpicked their favorite titles among the collections from their own publishing houses. The following list contains hidden gems in Korea’s publishing industry. For further information, please contact the agents directly.
The Frog Who Loves Mufflers Lee Jiyoung, The Worx, 2009 26p, ISBN 978-89-962993-0-1
A fairy tale for both children and adults, this is a story about a frog called ‘Fru.’ Artist Lee Jiyoung’s felt artwork nicely supports a heartwarming story. Lee, who majored in arts and crafts and then worked as a display specialist, is now staging various exhibitions and working on space design as an artist. Copyright Agent: Choi Hyunsook email@example.com 82-2-544-6768
72 list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010
A Letter from Dok-do Yoon Moonyoung Gesunamu Publishing House, 2007, 48p ISBN 978-89-89654-36-0
A boy gets to know the significance of Dok-do by exchanging letters with his uncle, who has been dispatched as a coast guard to the easternmost islets on the East Sea. Pictures and sketches reveal the beautiful nature of Dok-do as well as the life of the coast guards. Copyright Agent: Park Hyeyoung firstname.lastname@example.org 82-2-566-6504 www.gesunamu.co.kr
The Way Park Ttu-oem Plays Kim Kijung, Gesunamu Publishing House 2008, 140p, ISBN 978-89-89654-41-4
A 100-year-old grandfather has led a happy life. He notices his grandson, who is addicted to computer games at home. Outside, the kid is equally intractable since his hobby is playing wicked tricks on his friends. The grandfather’s amusing and entertaining stories to his grandson are depicted in lively illustrations. Copyright Agent: Park Hyeyoung email@example.com 82-2-566-6504 www.gesunamu.co.kr
Princess Mirror Kim Kyungok; Illustrator: Han Soojin First Junior, 2009, 114p ISBN 89-6155-189-2
A children’s story that highlights a journey toward the true self. Princess Mirror, who is in love with her own appearance, goes through a transformative experience at home and in school. The book portrays how she comes to face her true self and appreciate it in an entertaining fashion. Copyright Agent: Rosa Han Rosa.firstname.lastname@example.org 82-2-3144-3700
When I Was Young by Park Wan-suh Park Wan-suh; Illustrator: Kim Jaehong First Junior, 2009, 112p ISBN 89-6155-188-4
Park Wan-suh, a leading Korean novelist who is known both at home and abroad, presents children’s stories, a collection that reflects her own childhood. Like a loving grandmother telling her grandson bedtime stories, Park injects happiness into her tales set in the old days when poverty was everywhere. Copyright Agent: Rosa Han email@example.com 82-2-3144-3700
My Son’s Upset Ko Jungwook, Lee Minhye Seoul Education Co., Ltd., 2009, 124p ISBN 978-89-8378-246-5
Korean parents are sending their children to private cram schools, because they do not trust the public education system. This book offers a chance for parents and children to share their views on the issue, exploring what is the best for children. Copyright Agent: Joe Myungsuk firstname.lastname@example.org 82-2-791-0783 www.wiseibooks.com
Whose Shoes Are These? Jung Haeyoung, Nonjang Publishing Co. 2009, 48p, ISBN 978-89-8414-115-5
An informative picture book about shoes, one of the top items favored by children. The book is presented in delightful pictures and captivating text in a format easy for youngsters to approach. A plethora of onomatopoeic and mimetic words help readers feel as if they are wearing those shoes and walking in step to their distinctive rhythm. Copyright Agent: Lee Nayoung email@example.com 82-2-335-0506
Hard Worker Song Gwang-hyeon Yoon Suchun, Park Jungsub Seoul Education Co., Ltd. 2009, 144p ISBN 978-89-8378-255-7
Hard Worker Song Gwang-hyeon is concerned about a boy who belongs to an elementary school soccer team. He is not on the starting list, but he never stops training. By portraying a boy in pursuit of his dream, the book delivers a positive message to readers that hard work will eventually bear fruit. Copyright Agent: Joe Myungsuk firstname.lastname@example.org 82-2-791-0783 www.wiseibooks.com
Maps Are Always Talking to Me Kim Heekyoung, Krystyna Lipka-Sztarballo Nonjang Publishing Co. 2009, 48p ISBN 978-89-8414-107-0
An information-knowledge picture book about the various maps in history and what they mean to humankind. In an easy-tounderstand style, the book explains world history and culture through maps. Copyright Agent: Lee Nayoung email@example.com 82-2-335-0506
Snowman Song Changil, Lee Seungenn, Heo Hunseon Bluebird Publishing Co., 2008, 30p ISBN 978-89-6155-119-9
When heavy snow falls, children waste no time rushing to the window to watch the nightly wonder on a cold winter day. When the house and front yard are covered in snow, they have a field day, leaving their traces everywhere. Snowman is a picture book that illustrates the pure joy of children. Copyright Agent: Rosa Han firstname.lastname@example.org 82-2-3144-3700 www.bbchild.co.kr
Jo Won-hee, Nurimbo, 2009, 40p ISBN 978-89-5876-087-0
Ha Soo-jung, Nurimbo, 2010, 40p ISBN 978-89-5876-102-0
Global warming makes it virtually impossible for the Snow Boy to live in a city where there is no snow even in the middle of the winter. The Snow Boy attempts to hop on a plane for the Arctic, but he finds himself melting away due to the heat coming from the plane. We know that the ice on the Arctic is melting away. Snow Boy sends a wake-up call to the human greed that is destroying nature.
Grandmother’s Baby concerns three women— the narrator, her mother, and grandmother. The narrator’s mother gets to appreciate maternal love, something that her grandmother felt a generation ago, only after giving birth to her own baby. This feminist picture book explores traditional experiences handed over through the motherdaughter relationship.
Copyright Agent: Lee Hyun-ju email@example.com 82-31-955-7383 www.nurimbo.co.kr
Copyright Agent: Lee Hyun-ju firstname.lastname@example.org 82-31-955-7383 www.nurimbo.co.kr
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Little Yeoni’s New Year’s Greetings
The Secrets Behind the Number 64
Woo Jiyoung; Illustrator: Yoon Jungjoo Bear Books, 2007, 40p ISBN 978-89-960170-1-1
Park Yong-gi, Yang Kyunghee Baram Books 2004, 268p ISBN 978-89-90878-01-4
Heart-warming writings and pictures depict the excitement of Yeoni ahead of the Lunar New Year’s holiday. Based on historical documents, photographs, and pictures, Korea’s traditional new year’s holiday customs are brought back to life.
One day, an elementary school student stumbles into a series of mysterious incidents. In the course of unlocking the puzzles concerning the number 64, the main character gets drawn to the science of genetics.
Copyright Agent: Choi Hyunkyoung email@example.com 82-2-332-2672 www.bearbooks.co.kr
Copyright Agent: Nam Kyung-mee firstname.lastname@example.org 82-2-3142-0495 http://cafe.daum.net/barampub
A Busy Family
Kang Jeongyeon; Illustrator: Jeon Sangyong, Baram Books (Wind Child) 2006, 140p, ISBN 978-89-90878-31-1
Bae Yu-an, Thinking & Feeling Publishing 2009, 200p, ISBN 978-89-92263-08-5
The busy family is really busy. Their poor shadows get tired of chasing after their masters, so mixed up with each other. As a result, the busy family members have to slow down. But this change helps them understand each other, and get to know other member’s habits and worries. Copyright Agent: Nam Kyung-mee email@example.com 82-2-3142-0495 cafe.daum.net/barampub
The School of Thumb: Saving the Underground School of Life in Crisis
Son Hyejoo, Jeon Mikyoung Sanzini Books, 2009, 224p ISBN 978-89-92235-72-3
The Finch puts together traditional Korean myths and legends involving tree worship, goblins, and the goddess of smallpox. Author Kim Kunwoo provides intriguing interpretations about various legends.
The School of Thumb is a hub of underground life such as earthworms, snakes, and roly poly bugs, but the time-honored institution faces a crisis due to pollution. A school teacher enters the underground fantasy land with the help of glass beads in a bid to save the living creatures in crisis. Copyright Agent: Kim Eun-gyeong firstname.lastname@example.org 82-51-504-7070 www.sanzinibook.com
74 list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010
Kim Kunwoo, Rok Media, 2008 ISBN 978-89-257-0736-5 (set)
Copyright Agent: Sohn Suzie email@example.com 82-2-3273-5135 www.rokmedia.com
It’s Really Tough To Live As A Warrior, Vols. 1-6 Han Sangwoon, Rok Media, 2007 ISBN 978-89-257-0201-8
The protagonist is a heavy drinker and gambler. He’s also a member of a martial arts group. His practice grinds to a halt when he gets expelled from the group due to his bad habits. All the major elements of a martial arts story are put together neatly in this actionpacked adventure story. Copyright Agent: Sohn Suzie firstname.lastname@example.org 82-2-3273-5135 www.rokmedia.com
A story about the friendship between Jung Hu-gyeom and King Jung-jo of the Joseon dynasty. The book details how the Joseon politics played out along the factional conflicts against the backdrop of the tragic death of Prince Sado, whose younger brother’s adopted son was Jung Hu-gyeom. Faced with the accelerating political conflicts, Jung ditched friendship, leading to his defeat and a harsh judgment from historians. Copyright Agent: Hwang Hodong email@example.com 82-2-335-7345
Wednesday Coffeehouse Go Somyee, Dolpoong, 2008, 236p ISBN 978-89-9-583498-5
The novel is dedicated to the importance of a simple, natureoriented life for modern people who are accustomed to the fast and furious competition of capitalism. Light-hearted episodes and humorous characters help deliver the otherwise heavy theme. Copyright Agent: Kim Juyoung firstname.lastname@example.org 82-31-912-7448 blog.naver.com/dolpoongs
My Black Mini-dress
The Moon of Tehachapi
Kim Minseo, Human & Books 2009, ISBN 978-89-6078-065-1 (set)
Shin Myung-hwa, Lee Kyum-bie EunhaengNaMu, 2009, 372p ISBN 978-89-5660-320-9
Jo Gap-sang, Sanzini Books, 2009, 260p ISBN 978-89-92235-74-7
Cho Shinyoung, Vision & Leadership 2008, 268p, ISBN 978-89-90984-45-6
These are eight short stories targeted at those in their golden years. The title story, “The Moon of Tehachapi,” is set in a period when the Mohave Desert in the United States was being created. The author explores the lives of fictional characters cornered in a make-orbreak situation.
Cushion is a business fable comparing humans choices to a geltype cushion. The book provides a solid storyline designed to help find and nurture a mental cushion.
A feature-length novel about 20something Korean women with ambivalent attitudes toward life and career. In this candid and entertaining novel, a 24-year-old protagonist wanders in search of her dream, illustrating what Korean women in their 20s are up to. Copyright Agent: Ha Eungbaek email@example.com 82-2-6327-3535
The main character in this story, a shoe designer, puts on a variety of shoes when she meets men. Her choice of shoes, interestingly, reflects what kind of man she meets, and readers are invited to guess and observe which shoes she picks up and how that decision affects the man she comes across. Copyright Agent: Youn Ji-hyun firstname.lastname@example.org 82-2-3143-0651~3 www.ehbook.co.kr
Copyright Agent: Kim Eun-gyeong email@example.com 82-51-504-7070 www.sanzinibook.com
I Love You, Vols. 1-3
Robot Taekwon V, Vols. 1-5
Divine Mask, Vols. 1-8
Kang Full, Munhak Segyesa, 2007 ISBN 978-89-7075-412-3
Yang Wooseok, Kim Taegun Munhak Segyesa, 2008 ISBN 978-89-7075-426-0
Jeon Inho, Jeon Sehoon, Joongang Books 2008, ISBN 978-89-6188-409-9
Kang Full is one of the most famous webtoon artists in Korea. His third installment of the romance comics series is concerned about a heartwarming relationship of elderly people, a marginalized group in Korean society. Copyright Agent: Kim Yoan firstname.lastname@example.org 82-2-702-1800 www.msp21.co.kr
Robot Taekwon V, armed with Korea’s traditional martial arts taekwondo, was created in the 1970s. Its edgy appearance is often compared to the military helmet of the much-esteemed national hero General Yi Sun-shin. This book describes what became of Robot Taekwon V in the past three decades. Copyright Agent: Kim Yoan email@example.com 82-2-702-1800 www.msp21.co.kr
Copyright Agent: Song Kyoung-sun firstname.lastname@example.org 82-2-2078-3404 www.visionnleadership.com
Phrenology is based on accumulated data and statistics about the human face, dating back to ancient times. Divine Mask is Korea’s first comic book tackling phrenology. The main character, uses phrenology that he learned from his father to deal with a series of crises and challenges. Copyright Agent: Jeong Hayeong email@example.com 82-10-7724-7166 www.joongangbooks.co.kr
Mommy Trademark Home Schooling to Strengthen Your Child’s Genius Kyunghye Yano, Joongang Books, 2009 184p, ISBN 978-89-6188-971-1
Kyunghye Yano, who raised “little Einstein’s brother and sister,” reveals how her home schooling techniques have helped her children develop their talents and initiative. What turns a child into a genius is a careful half-step-ahead approach that offers a gentle, effective guide for moving a child forward. Copyright Agent: Jeong Hayeong firstname.lastname@example.org 82-10-7724-7166 www.joongangbooks.co.kr
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Korea Urban Design Research
Yol-Ha Journal: A TopNotch Travelogue
Kim Min-soo, Greenbee Publishing Co. 2009, 560p, ISBN 978-89-7682-600-8
Park Ji-won, Ko Mi-sook, Gil Jin-sook Kim Pung-gi, Greenbee Publishing Co. 2008, ISBN 978-89-7682-101-0 (set)
Korea’s renowned design critic Kim Min-soo has analyzed the past, present, and future of six major cities. His analysis shows that the true identity of cities is fading away due to the sweeping development projects coupled with the public design boom. Copyright Agent: Park Tae-ha email@example.com 82-2-702-2717 www.greenbee.co.kr
Lunch Break Story Go Somyee, Kang Morim, Dolpoong 2006, 228p, ISBN 8995834900
A food essay collection that is very likely to stimulate both the curiosity and culinary instinct of readers. The essays piece together history, philosophy, and literature related to food. Lunch Break Story is, if anything, a recipe for a subtle combination of distinctive philosophy and creative imagination. Copyright Agent: Kim Juyoung firstname.lastname@example.org 82-31-912-7448 blog.naver.com/dolpoongs
76 list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010
Park Ji-won, a maverick scholar of the late Joseon dynasty, wrote a magnificent travelogue on China detailing his six-month adventures and observations. This renowned travelogue is considered a classic due to the author’s talent in incorporating a sense of humor, and a liberal imagination.
I Was on That Island
Single, Obladi Oblada
Kim Younggap, Human & Books, 2004 256p, ISBN 978-89-6078-012-5
Park, Jin-jin, EunhaengNaMu, 2009, 274p ISBN 978-89-5660-311-7
This the late Kim Younggap’s photo essay collection. Kim spent about 20 years capturing the beauty of Jeju Island with his camera, and this collection features not only beautiful photographs of the island but also Kim’s passion toward life on Jeju Island.
A guide book for single women who may not own luxury shoes or bags but instinctively know that they have to love their lives nonetheless. The author analyzes the vanity of Korean women, and pulls no punches in unraveling the complicated yet fascinating life of single women in Korea.
Copyright Agent: Ha Eungbaek email@example.com 82-2-6327-3535
Copyright Agent: Park Tae-ha firstname.lastname@example.org 82-2-702-2717 www.greenbee.co.kr
A Wife with a Dream Never Gets Old
Becoming a Person Everyone Wants to Talk To
Kim Mi-gyeong, Myung Jin Publications Inc. 2007, 312p, ISBN 978-89-7677-258-9
Jeon Mi-ok, Myung Jin Publications Inc. 2007, 246p, ISBN 978-89-7677-420-0
A celebrated life coach’s self-help book explains how she has nurtured her dreams in the past 10 years after marriage. Drawing on her own experiences, the author provides steps to Korean women who want to be a good wife, mother, and a good human being.
To get recognition at the workplace, the author argues that they should develop effective communication skills, and offers detailed tips and techniques.
Copyright Agent: Ryu Sora email@example.com 82-2-326-0026/82-2-10-5602-8203 www.myungjinbooks.com
Copyright Agent: Ryu Sora firstname.lastname@example.org 82-2-326-0026/82-2-10-5602-8203 www.myungjinbooks.com
Copyright Agent: Youn Ji-hyun email@example.com 82-2-3143-0651~3 www.ehbook.co.kr
First Vacation in 30 Years Lee Moo-suk, Vision & Leadership, 2006 288p, ISBN 978-89-90984-02-5
He is successful but not happy. He is obsessed with success. First Vacation in 30 Years features how the author in his 30s finally secures true internal comfort and peace. He encourages readers to slow down a little bit to enjoy inner freedom. Copyright Agent: Song Kyoung-sun firstname.lastname@example.org 82-2-2078-3404 www.visionnleadership.com
Thanks for All the Cats
Lee Yong-han, Bookfolio, 2009, 352p ISBN 978-89-378-3258-1
Kim Jung-chul, Bookfolio, 2009, 236p ISBN 978-89-378-3247-5
Lee Yong-han came across several street cats right in front of his house. Following this encounter, Lee began to feed some 20 cats. Over a period of one year, he maintained a special relation with those cats. Detailing the life of street cats, Lee delivers a simple yet often ignored fact that cats are, after all, our companions.
Digital technology is everywhere in Korea, a nation which has been quick to adopt new digital solutions and gadgets. But digital technology is still an elusive concept for many people. What is digital technology? How does it reshape our life? Hello, D contains all the essential information that can help readers enjoy digital life.
Copyright Agent: Kang Se-mi email@example.com 82-2-3475-4084 www.bookfolio.co.kr
Copyright Agent: Kang Se-mi firstname.lastname@example.org 82-2-3475-4084 www.bookfolio.co.kr
Roof-end Tiles of East Asia
Icon and Code
Yoo Chang-jong, Misul Munhwa, 2009 232p, ISBN 978-89-91847-68-2
Lim Tae-seung, Misul Munhwa, 2006 232p, ISBN 89-91847-13-7
Roof-end tiles of Korea, China, and Japan are analyzed and illustrated in a way that sheds light on how the tiles contain the history and culture of the three East Asian countries. The author has classified the longignored roof-end tiles, while tracing cultural exchange among the three nations through the designs and patterns of the tiles.
Korea, China, and Japan share similar aesthetics when it comes to traditional paintings. Icons represent individual elements in canvas, such as mountains, water, and rocks. Codes refer to the meaning or message each icon signifies. This combination of icons and codes is used to identify and investigate the characteristics of East Asian art.
Copyright Agent: Park Eun-young email@example.com 82-2-335-2964 www.misulmun.co.kr
Copyright Agent: Park Eun-young firstname.lastname@example.org 82-2-335-2964 www.misulmun.co.kr
A Cultural Sociological Reading of Comics
The Origin of East Asian Women
Choi Saet-byel, Choi Heub Ewha Womans University Press, 2009 288p, ISBN 978-89-7300-808-7
Jeong Jae-seo, Ewha Womans University Press 2009, 464p, ISBN 978-89-7300-828-5
A book aimed at offering comic book lovers a fresh perspective, while introducing a new research subject to those engaged in cultural sociology. The author also uncovers the differences between Korean and Japanese society through comic books, focusing on their status and content. Copyright Agent: Kim Hye-ryen email@example.com 82-2-3277-3162 www.ewhapress.com
An interpretation of East Asian women described in Yeolnyeojeon, an ancient text that preaches Confucian principles required for women. The book examines how ideologies that shaped the ideal image of women in East Asia are related to today’s women’s issues in Korea and China. Copyright Agent: Kim Hye-ryen firstname.lastname@example.org 82-2-3277-3162 www.ewhapress.com
You Have Already Begun to Write a Novel
Park Chan-wook’s Montage
Lee Seung-u, Maumsanchaek, 2006 176p, ISBN 89-89351-86-3
Park Chan-wook, Maumsanchaek, 2005 300p, ISBN 89-89351-81-2
Author Lee Seung-u offers various tips to future writers or those who want to express their ideas and imagination in the form of writing. Drawing on his own experiences, Lee details essential writing techniques such as the importance of the narrator, structures designed to amplify dramatic tension, and elements for a good sentence.
This is a collection of filmmaker Park Chan-wook’s essays. The book contains articles and essays that reveal Park’s overall perspective toward life, interviews and production notes for his films. Articles illustrating his ideas about the role of filmmakers and thoughtprovoking film reviews are also included.
Copyright Agent: Kwon Halla email@example.com 82-2-362-1452 www.maumsan.com
Copyright Agent: Kwon Halla firstname.lastname@example.org 82-2-362-1452 www.maumsan.com
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INDEX Title Original Title Publishers Copyright Agent E-mail Phone Homepage
12p Mother Peasant Eomma Kkaturi Little Mountain Publishing Co. Shin Soo-jin email@example.com 82-2-335-7365 13p Echo Meari Gilbut Children Publishing Co., Ltd. Kim Youjung firstname.lastname@example.org 82-31-955-3262 www.gilbutkid.co.kr 13p Grandma’s Folk Dance Nalmada Ppokkeuttaengseu Moonji Publishing Co., Ltd. Moon Ji-hyun email@example.com 82-2-338-7224 (Ext.113) www.moonji.com 13p Brother for Sale Nae Dongsaeng Ssage Parayo I-seum (mirae n culture group) Moon Young firstname.lastname@example.org 82-2-3475-3921 www.i-seum.com 13p Dear Mrs. Astrid Lindgren Naui Rindeugeuren Seonsaengnim Changbi Publishers, Inc. Lee Soonhwa email@example.com 82-31-955-3369 www.changbi.com/english 13p New Clothes for New Year's Day Seolbim Sakyejul Publishing Ltd. Kang Hyunjoo firstname.lastname@example.org 82-31-955-8600 www.sakyejul.co.kr 13p There’s a Sea Horse Living in My Heart Nae Gaseume Haemaga Sanda Munhakdongne Publishing Corp. Kim Mijeong email@example.com 82-31-955-2662 www.munhak.com 14p My Teacher’s Chips Seonsaengnim Gwaja Changbi Publishers, Inc. Lee Soonhwa firstname.lastname@example.org 82-31-955-3369 www.changbi.com/english 15p A Twisted Hair Band Gopseulgopseul Meoritti Sakyejul Publishing Ltd. Kang Hyunjoo email@example.com 82-31-955-8600 www.sakyejul.co.kr 15p A Special Gift from Mommy Eommaui Teukbyeolhan Seonmul Woongjin Think Big Co., Ltd. Claire Yang firstname.lastname@example.org 82-2-3670-1168 www.wjbooks.co.kr 15p Mickey, the Painter Jwidorineun Hwaga BIR Publishing Co., Ltd. Song Jung-ha email@example.com 82-2-515-2000 (Ext.207) www.bir.co.kr
78 list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010
15p School of Liars Geojinmal Hakgyo Munhakdongne Publishing Corp. Kim Mijeong firstname.lastname@example.org 82-31-955-2662 www.munhak.com
19p Jjin-Jjingun and Dubbangdu Jjinjjingunwa Duppangdu Moonji Publishing Co., Ltd. Moon Ji-hyun email@example.com 82-2-338-7224 (Ext.113) www.moonji.com
15p Mr. Umbrella’s Adventures Watdagatda Usan Ajeossi Chungnyunsa Publishing Co., Ltd. Lee Younglim firstname.lastname@example.org 82-31-955-4855
19p Secret of the Neighborhood Photo Shop Dongne Sajingwanui Bimil Nurimbo Publishing Co. Jane Yoon email@example.com 82-31-955-7390 www.nurimbo.co.kr
15p King or Beggar Jjajang Jjamppong Tangsuyuk Jaimimage Publishing Co. Song Su-yeon firstname.lastname@example.org 82-31-955-0880 www.jaimimage.com
19p Encyclopedia of Adolescence Cheongsonyeo Baekgwasajeon Little Mountain Publishing Co. Shin Soo-jin email@example.com 82-2-335-7365
15p Magic Poo-Man Mabeopsa Ttongmaen Changbi Publishers, Inc. Lee Soonhwa firstname.lastname@example.org 82-31-955-3369 www.changbi.com/english
25p Goodbye, Mr. Yi Sang and others Kkutppai Isang Munhakdongne Publishing Corp. Kim Mijeong email@example.com 82-31-955-2662 www.munhak.com
16p Pumpkin Porridge Seller and others Dokkaebiwa Beombeok Jangsu Kookminbooks Co., Ltd. Lee Young-ae firstname.lastname@example.org 82-31-955-7842 cafe.naver.com/kmbooks
25p Song of the Night Bameun Noraehanda Moonji Publishing Co., Ltd. Kim Phil-gyun email@example.com 82-2-338-7224 (Ext.122) www.moonji.com
16p In Search of the Ten Symbols of Longevity Sipjangsaengeul Chajaseo Changbi Publishers, Inc. Lee Soonhwa firstname.lastname@example.org 82-31-955-3369 www.changbi.com/english
25p I Am a Ghostwriter Naneun Yuryeongjakgaimnida Changbi Publishers, Inc. Lee Soonhwa email@example.com 82-31-955-3369 www.changbi.com/english
17p Red Bean Granny and the Tiger and others Patjukhalmeoniwa Horangi Borim Press Eom Heejeong firstname.lastname@example.org 82-31-955-3456 www.borimpress.com
26p World’s End Girlfriend Segyeui Kkeut Yeojachingu Munhakdongne Publishing Corp. Kim Mijeong email@example.com 82-31-955-2662 www.munhak.com
17p Come Play in My Yard Uri Madangeuro Nolleowa Urikyoyuk Co., Ltd. Jang Seulki firstname.lastname@example.org 82-2-3142-6770 (Ext.323) www.uriedu.co.kr
39p A Special Land, the Secret of the DMZ Aju Teukbyeolhan Ttang DMZ YeaRimDang Publishing Co., Ltd. Derrick Kim email@example.com 82-2-3404-9247 www.yearim.co.kr
18p Sounds from Alleyways Golmogeseo Soriga Nanda Sakyejul Publishing Ltd. Kang Hyunjoo firstname.lastname@example.org 82-31-955-8600 www.sakyejul.co.kr
40p DMZ, the Boundary of Wilderness DMZneun Saraitda Woongjin ThinkBig Co., Ltd. Claire Yang email@example.com 82-2-3670-1168 www.wjbooks.co.kr
19p You, Me, and Everyone Neo Na Uri Samtoh Co., Ltd. Yoon Hee-joung firstname.lastname@example.org 82-2-763-8963 www.isamtoh.com
40p DMZ: A Place of Painful History and National Division Bimujangjidae Minjokbundanui Apeun Yeoksaga Seoryeoinneun Got Gimm-Young Publishers, Inc. Hwang Inbin email@example.com 82-2-3668-3203 www.gimmyoung.com/english
19p Relationship Gwangye Gesunamu Publishing House Kim Jiai firstname.lastname@example.org 82-2-566-6504 www.gesunamu.co.kr
40p Hello, DMZ! Annyeong DMZ Blue Sky Publishing Co. Cha Jae-hyun email@example.com 82-2-701-0443
40p DMZ, Awaiting a Train to Europe DMZ Yureophaeng Yeolchareul Gidarimyeo Planet Media Publishing Co. Kim Eunju firstname.lastname@example.org 82-2-3143-3366 40p DMZ Story DMZ Iyagi Noonbit Sung Yoonmi email@example.com 82-2-336-2167 www.noonbit.co.kr 40p Discovering DMZ Hanguk DMZ Geu Jayeonsajeok Tambang Jipmoondang Hahm Kwangbok firstname.lastname@example.org 82-2-743-3192 42p Alcohol: Korea’s Drinking Culture Hangugui Sul Munhwa Sun Publishers Kim Yoontae email@example.com 82-2-762-3335 t 43p Im-wonsib-yugji - Chapter on Food & Drink, Jeongjoji Kyomunsa Publishing Ltd. Yun Jeongseon firstname.lastname@example.org 82-31-955-6111 www.kyomunsa.co.kr 45p Poongryu, A Poetic Elegance Pungnyu-Yet Saramgwa Nanuneun Sul Han Jan Hans Media email@example.com 82-2-333-0062 www.hansmedia.com 46p Hur Shimyung’s 1000 Miles of Drink Hur Shimyungeui Judangcheolli Wisdomhouse Publishing Co., Ltd. Kwon Minkyung firstname.lastname@example.org 82-31-936-4199 www.wisdomhouse.co.kr 47p Just Say Sorry Sagwaneun Jalhaeyo Hyundae Munhak Co., Ltd. Choi Saemina email@example.com 82-2-516-3770 (Ext. 225) www.hdmh.co.kr 48p Lou-lan Nuran Changbi Publishers, Inc. Lee Soonhwa firstname.lastname@example.org 82-31-955-3369 www.changbi.com/english 48p The Double Life of Cat Goyangiui Ijungsaenghwal Moonji Publishing Co., Ltd. Kim Phil-gyun email@example.com 82-2-338-7224 (Ext.122) www.moonji.com 49p Alice’s Way of Life Aelliseuui Saenghwalbangsik Minumsa Michelle Nam firstname.lastname@example.org 82-515-2000 (Ext.206) www.minumsa.com
49p What Makes Up a City? Dosineun Mueoseuro Irueojineunga Munhakdongne Publishing Corp. Kim Mijeong email@example.com 82-31-955-2662 www.munhak.com
56p Imaginary Hammer Kang Woo-hyoneui Sangsangmangchi Nami Books Kim Ji-yeon firstname.lastname@example.org 82-2-318-6260 blog.naver.com/womenpub
65p The Lost Land Uljima, Kkotdeura Borim Press Eom Heejeong email@example.com 82-31-955-3456 www.borimpress.com
50p River No Return Gongmudoha Munhakdongne Publishing Corp. Kim Mijeong firstname.lastname@example.org 82-31-955-2662 www.munhak.com
56p A Record of a Thousand Days, Suh Nampyo Suh Nampyo Cheonirui Girok The Dong-A Media Group Ryu Insuk email@example.com 82-2-361-1031 www.donga.com
65p The Importance of Thinking Saenggagi Jungyohae Sun & Tree Kim Sora firstname.lastname@example.org 82-2-362-0938 cafe.daum.net/sunntree
p50 North Living Room Bukjjok Geosil Moonji Publishing Co., Ltd. Kim Phil-gyun email@example.com 82-2-338-7224 (Ext.122) www.moonji.com
57p Madness is Genius Michyeoya Michinda Prunyoksa Baek Seung-jong firstname.lastname@example.org 82-2-720-8921
51p This Paradise of Yours Dangsindeurui Cheonguk Moonji Publishing Co., Ltd. Kim Phil-gyun email@example.com 82-2-338-7224 (Ext.122) www.moonji.com
58p Bon Voyage Joeun Yeohaeng Sigongsa Amélie Choi firstname.lastname@example.org 82-2-2046-2856 www.sigongsa.com
52p Books for Youth Cheongchunui Dokseo Woongjin Think Big Co., Ltd. Claire Yang email@example.com 82-2-3670-1168 www.wjbooks.co.kr
58p The Private Life of My Child Aiui Sasaenghwal Sigongsa Amélie Choi firstname.lastname@example.org 82-2-2046-2856 www.sigongsa.com
53p Good Farewell Joeun Ibyeol Prunsoop Publishing Co., Ltd. Kim Mijung email@example.com 82-31-955-1410 (Ext.128) www.prunsoop.co.kr
59p 100 Laws that Drive the World Sesangeul Umjigineun 100Gaji Beopchik Smart Business Park Sun-jung firstname.lastname@example.org 82-2-336-1254
53p To Go Farther, Walk Together Meolli Garyeomyeon Hamkke Gara Woongjin Think Big Co., Ltd. Claire Yang email@example.com 82-2-3670-1168 www.wjbooks.co.kr 54p Curious Museums of Europe Yureobui Goejja Bangmulgwan Munhakdongne Publishing Corp. Kim Mijeong firstname.lastname@example.org 82-31-955-2662 www.munhak.com 54p Small Villages of Japan Ilbonui Jageun Maeul Sallim Life Park Jong-hun 82-31-955-4671 www.sallimbooks.com 55p Greenland: Walking the Center of the World Geurillandeu Jiguui Jungsimeul Geotda Munhakdongne Publishing Corp. Kim Mijeong email@example.com 82-31-955-2662 www.munhak.com 55p 365 Days of Pop History 365Il Pap Eumaksa DoddleSaeghim Publishing Co. Noh Sun-hye firstname.lastname@example.org 82-2-745-1854 blog.naver.com/doduls
59p Papepopo Rainbow Wisdomhouse Publishing Co., Ltd. Kwon Minkyung email@example.com 82-31-936-4199 www.wisdomhouse.co.kr
66p Detective, Save the UNESCO Memory of the World Myeongtamjeong Segye Girok Yusaneul Guhara Changbi Publishers, Inc. Lee Soonhwa firstname.lastname@example.org 82-31-955-3369 www.changbi.com/english 67p Solgeonara Series Borim Press Eom Heejeong email@example.com 82-31-955-3456 www.borimpress.com 68p Looking Back As the Sun Sets and others Seogyangeul Deunge Jigo Geurimjareul Bapda Hyundae Munhak Co., Ltd. Choi Saemina firstname.lastname@example.org 82-2-516-3770 (Ext. 225) www.hdmh.co.kr 70p You at the Moment and others Geu jeonSungan Neoneun Barambooks Nam Kyung-mee email@example.com 82-02-3142-0495 cafe.daum.net/barampub
60p Namhansanseong Gobooky Books Kim Jae-hyun firstname.lastname@example.org 82-32-623-8585 www.gobook2.com 60p If Thou Must Love Me Dangsini Nareul Saranghaeya Handamyeon Munhak Segyesa Publishing Co. Kim Yo-an email@example.com 82-2-702-1800 www.msp21.co.kr 63p Jongmyo, Where Gods and Humans Meet Jongmyo Singwa Ingani Mannaneun Got Woongjin ThinkBig Co., Ltd. Lee Wonju firstname.lastname@example.org 82-2-539-8142 www.wjthinkbig.com 64p Where Are You Off To, Granny? I Am Off To Dig Up Some Mugworts! Halmeoni Eodigayo? Ssuk Tteudeureo Ganda! Bori Publishing Co., Ltd. Jeon Beom-jun email@example.com 82-31-955-3535 (Ext.215) www.boribook.com
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The News Is Asia The reason why we decided to start the new Italian publishing house Metropoli d'Asia in the middle of a major economic slowdown that has highly impacted sales in the sector, is that we think crises are times of change. And in times of change, readers start looking for something new. The news, these days, is Asia. In all areas, Asia is emerging as a giant, not only in every economic sector, but also in geopolitical relations. Italian magazines are now publishing plenty of articles related not only to the economies and politics of Asia, but also to the lifestyles, stories, and fashion along with a wide range of other topics. It is easy to open an Italian magazine and find news about restaurants in Shanghai or the fashion industry in Bombay. Asian arts is now at its peak, with exhibitions in many European capitals, and the movie industries from China, Korea, Taiwan, and India, starting to colonize our screens. That is why Metropoli d'Asia decided to direct readers towards contemporary Asian literature and even pop fiction that are able to depict Asiaâ€™s mega-cities, show the people who live there, and depict their daily lives and their perceptions about living in such a fast developing world. After decades of Italian readers associating Asian literatures with rural countries and environments, and underdeveloped societies, Metropoli d'Asia intends to act so that Italian readers realize that the characters of contemporary Korean novels are so similar to our characters, that the kind of life they live is so similar to ours, and that we have a lot to share. Although not a giant like China or India, South Korea is a major centre that has produced Kim Ki Duk movies, Hyundai cars, and a strong ship constructing industry. The curiosity created by this country needs to be met by publishers. We are looking to younger writers and new writing, and are planning the Italian translation of at least six to seven novels in the near future. It is, we may say, a bet, or an investment in the future, on Metropoli d'Asiaâ€™s side. In that we are happy to know that KLTI is on our side, helping us in this effort that, we trust, will help to strenghthen relations between our two countries and peoples. By Andrea Berrini (Metropoli d'Asia, CEO)
Copyright ÂŠ Lee Jong-mi (The Sun and the Moon)
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Sleeping Beauty? Hardly! By Lee Kyunghye Translated by Hwang Sun-ae
Sleeping Beauty? Hardly! There once was a palace surrounded by a thicket of horrible thorns. In that palace sat a beautiful princess bereft of human company and fated to turn a spinning wheel ceaselessly, year in, year out. Legend said that she would be freed from that tedious, painful work only at the end of a hundred years, when a noble prince would appear and kiss her hand. The story of this beautiful but piteous princess spread and touched the heart of many a prince. None knew when the rumored hundred years would end, but equipped in helmet and armor and bearing a lance, each would ride forth astride a splendid horse and charge against the thicket. No sooner did a prince reach those thorny woods, but the trees would stretch forth their countless branches like long fingers and coil about his body. Countless princes pricked by thorns poured forth their lifeblood and perished. This pattern continued year after year. How came that princess fated to be turning a spinning wheel for nearly a hundred years? Let me first explain what happened before. Once upon a time, there lived a king with his queen in a certain country. As is the case with many such old stories, the couple was childless, so the queen had been praying for a child. One day as the queen was washing herself at a pond in the forest surrounding the palace, a toad jumped out and pronounced, “My queen, you will soon give birth to a princess!” The queen, however, abhorred the toad and cried out, “Go away!” Its dignity offended, the toad became angry and hopped off fuming. After the encounter, the queen’s belly really grew bigger and bigger, and she gave birth to a lovely baby princess after nine months. The king had desired a child for so long, and was so very pleased, that he gave a big party and invited list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010
many persons, including seven rainbow fairies. At the celebration, each fairy came forward in her color and blessed the princess. “My gift for her is the love of red. She shall have a heart of love.” “My gift for her is the power of orange. She shall ascend the throne as a powerful queen.” “My gift for her is the beauty of yellow. She shall become stunningly beautiful.” “My gift for her is the health of green. She shall live healthy and long.” “My gift for her is the wisdom of blue. She shall grow great in wisdom. “My gift for her is the self-possession of indigo. She will become a woman of extraordinary self-possession.” “My gift for her is . . .” The violet fairy was just about to pronounce her blessing when an eerie wail like some distant, but rapidly approaching wind was to be heard. Then resounded within the celebration hall a loud “Boom!”—as of some fearsome explosion! Within a cloud of smoke appeared the toad fairy, its face riddled with inflamed craters. At the sight of this fairy, the people were all filled with dread. The toad fairy laughed a vengeful laugh and said, “My
queen, you insulted me when I foretold that you would bear a princess. For that reason, I come to offer a special gift. When the princess turns fifteen, she will prick her thumb on the needle of a spinning wheel and be cursed to turn that wheel unceasingly while all others in the palace lie deep in sleep until a prince should come after a hundred years to kiss her hand and free her from her toil.” The toad fairy then disappeared without a trace. All were horrified and didn’t know what to do, except for the violet fairy, who came forward and said, “I haven’t given my blessing yet. My gift is the solitude of the violet. Our princess shall be able to enjoy being alone. She will need this essential gift if she is to turn the spinning wheel in solitude for a hundred years.” Hoping to circumvent the curse, the king ordered all the spinning wheels banished from his kingdom. Even the expression “spinning wheel” was forbidden. Without their spinning wheels, people could neither spin yarn nor weave cloth. The price of clothes soared. In the palace, leather clothes were available, at least, but the common people had to wear rags, and they took their anger out on toads, spitting on them at every opportunity. The princess grew up to become a beautiful, healthy, wise, and self-possessed woman with heart of love, apparently destined to be a perfect queen, precisely as blessed by the rainbow fairies. On the day that she turned fifteen, she happened to ascend the long winding stairs leading to the tower room at the very top of the castle, curious about a place she had never been. At the last, highest step, she found a battered wooden door. As she touched it, the doorknob turned of itself, and the door came ajar. Inside the room was the toad fairy sitting and turning
a spinning wheel, but the princess did not know her. “A fat old woman with a face full of pimples!” she thought, and asked aloud, “Old woman, what is that?” “Oh, this is called a spinning wheel. It makes yarn. Would you like to try?” “Wow, it looks fun! How does it work?” The princess sat down at the wheel. As soon as the toad fairy took her hand and placed it on the wheel, the needle pricked her thumb, which instantly dripped blood. Shocked, the princess tried to draw her hand back, but found it stuck. She screamed. Her cry of fear and the high-pitched laughter of the toad fairy echoed together throughout the castle’s many halls. At that very moment, all else in the palace fell into spellbound sleep. A cat chasing a mouse, a piece of meat sizzling in its pan, and even the gentle breeze of spring all fell asleep. But the hand of the princess kept turning the spinning wheel automatically, as if that hand no longer belonged to her. Before going away, the toad fairy told her the whole story, and that’s exactly how things happened. From that moment on, the princess was turning the spinning wheel for almost hundred years. Is it not terrible even to imagine? How much better off the princess would have been had she just known about spinning wheels! She would then have been able to take more care and avoid one, wouldn’t she?
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Instead, all spinning wheels had been foolishly removed from the country, leaving her ignorant of what one was, and with no sense of caution, she touched the first spinning wheel that she saw. But what else could have happened? That’s the way old stories go. Anyway, back to the princess. She could at first not quietly endure being stuck to the spinning wheel. Endlessly turning it was such torture. For the first ten years, she screamed, and the next ten years, she cried. The next ten years, she sighed, and the next ten years, she remained impassive, without a thought. The next ten years, she sat with eyes closed. At least, she didn’t suffer loneliness, thanks to the blessing from the violet fairy. She suffered only from being stuck to the spinning wheel, but after fifty years had passed, she slowly relaxed and even came to forget what she was doing. Since her hand moved automatically, she could let her imagination spin free. Although confined to the castle’s highest room and stuck to the spinning wheel, she could travel the world in her thoughts and imagination. At some point, she even became friends with a white crow that had once been a boy upon whom the toad fairy had cast a spell because he had been naughty to her and thrown rocks. The crow would bring news from the outside world, including stories of the princes who had been list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010
pricked and killed by the thorns. Even if only little by little, a hundred years must one day pass. Finally, the last day of the hundredth year came. That morning, the white crow cried out in excitement and joy. “Princess, princess, the day has finally arrived! Who might be the prince coming to free you from this spell? He will surely be a wonder, won’t he? I can’t wait to see him, caw-caw!” The day passed so slowly, as if a second were several years. After her solitude of a hundred years, she waited impatiently for release from the spell. At one point, the white crow flew out and immediately back. “A prince has finally arrived. Already from the distance, I could see him, a wonderful man! The thorn bushes, so fearsome even yesterday, are now so soft and gentle, like downy hair, making way for him. He will be here soon!” “Oh goodness, what should I do? I want to wash my face and comb my hair, but I can’t move . . . . White crow, do I look terrible?” The crow shook its head. “No, not at all. You are stunningly beautiful! You haven’t changed at all for a hundred years.” Resounding footsteps coming up the stairs were soon to be heard, and the door opened. The princess was so excited that she could not lift her head to look and kept her gaze only upon the spinning wheel. The prince approached and took up her hand to kiss. Amazing! The hand that she couldn’t remove from the wheel even with her greatest effort, as if it were nailed
there, lifted away so easily when the prince took it up to kiss. At last, after a hundred years, she was freed from the spinning wheel! “Princess, would you be my bride?” The princess was still gazing in shock at her liberated hand, but the impatient prince pressed her for her hand in marriage. He looked at her with eyes darting desire, and her own quick glance persuaded her that he was a real man.
The white crow sitting on the windowsill and watching was overjoyed and sang, “Caw-caw!” The princess liked him and, without hesitation, was about to answer yes like all the princesses in all the old stories. But she suddenly felt her heart suffocating, and started coughing. The prince, surprised at first, recovered enough to lift her in his arms and carry her down the long stairs. When he arrived below, people came running to them, shouting for joy. As soon as the princess was freed from the spell, all the other people in the palace had awakened. “Wow!” the prince exclaimed. He was utterly astonished because the whole palace surrounded by thorny branches had been as silent as a graveyard when he had arrived but was now so full of life. The king and queen as well as the servants all came out. They all danced for joy. The king was so happy that tears spilled from his eyes. He said to the prince, “Your courage freed my daughter
from the spell, so I wish to offer you her hand.” The prince was pleased and looked at the princess. At that moment, she started coughing again. “Ah,” said the king, “turning that spinning wheel for a hundred years has surely sickened her and made her cough. Take her quickly to her bed!” After giving this order, he threw a big party to celebrate. In her room, as the fit of coughing stopped, the princess became absorbed in her thoughts. “What’s wrong with me? The prince seems to be a nice man, and I like him. It’s clear that I should be his wife as he has freed me from the spell. But my life has been forced on me so far. I haven’t lived as I wanted. I had to sit for a hundred years turning the spinning wheel under that curse by the toad fairy. Do I now have to live as the wife of the prince because Father has decided for me? No, no, not yet. I want to live my life on my own, at least for a few months!” Upon this resolve, the princess again went outside to where the party was taking place. As the king and the queen saw her coming, they were greatly pleased, and welcomed her with a big smile. Seeing them, the princess grew weak at heart, but she braced herself and said to the prince, “My prince, I like you. But I don’t want to get married just yet. I might marry you later, but I won’t get married for the time being.” At that, the music stopped. All the people were aghast. Nothing like that had ever happened in the old stories. Every princess freed from a spell always married the prince who freed her. No princess had ever refused. Marriage under such circumstances was as expected as the sun’s rising in the morning and setting in the evening. People stood aghast for a while, unable to accept what they had heard. Finally, the prince cried out loudly, for he was upset. “What? How is this possible? How can you treat me like this, the prince who freed you from that spell? I won’t accept this. The king as your father had already promised me that I can have you as my wife. The word of a king is law. Your opinion is irrelevant.” The princess was astounded by his changed attitude. She suddenly didn’t like him any more and realized that she list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010
could never marry him. She responded firmly, “I will never marry you!” The prince sneered at her. “The king of this country has already promised me your hand, and as I’ve already said, your opinion doesn’t count!” “Never! I’ll never marry you!” The queen intervened, trying to calm her daughter. “My darling, what’s the matter? He’s the prince who has saved you. You must have grown confused from the long years of work turning the spinning wheel.” “Mother, I had all kinds of thoughts while I sat alone for a hundred years. Maybe I have had the most thoughts of anyone in the world. Thinking was almost the only thing that I could do of my own accord. Believe me, I’m not confused. I had to live a hundred years in a manner I didn’t choose. I cannot now simply follow the will of you and Father and go against my heart.” The prince exploded in wrath and stood abruptly up. “I’ll take you with me anyway. If you can never marry me, not even on threat of death, you must at least work as my servant!” The king and the queen were shocked. But the milk was already spilt. A king cannot break his promise to the prince of another country. The princess bit her tongue, then said, “Alright. I’ll live as your servant!” Before leaving, she handed out to the people all the yarn that she had spun in those hundred years. Everyone cheered and immediately wove the yarn into cloth for new clothes. The princess meanwhile left for the kingdom of the prince. There, she became the prince’s servant. From early morning to late night, she had to serve him. The task of serving such a wicked prince was arduous, but compared to the labor of turning that cursed spinning wheel for a hundred years without being able to move, this work was list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010
nothing but a dream job. Moreover, she could sleep alone each night undisturbed, although her room was very tiny. She loved being alone. She wrote in her journal and sketched pictures. Or lying quietly on the bed, she would let all sorts of thoughts flow through her mind. Imagining things, she enjoyed her time in solitude. Whatever hard work she might have to do by day and however annoyed she might be by something, she could cheer herself by anticipating the night alone. Above all, being a servant and doing hard work was not because of a spell like that cast by the toad fairy, was it? She had chosen this life and was satisfied with it. Time passed, and the prince became a king. As king, he sought out and married the most beautiful woman of the kingdom. This new queen, however, didn’t like the princess. Her dislike is easy to understand, for so long as the princess was there, the queen could not truthfully be called “the most beautiful woman of the kingdom.” She therefore pressed the king to send the princess back home. Finally, he agreed, and the princess was able to return to her home country and again see her parents, whom she had missed so much. As her parents grew old, she became queen. With the people’s good wishes for her reign, she ascended the throne. But she had no wish to marry, though her parents tried everything to persuade her. She loved her nights of solitude and liberated thoughts and had no desire to become anyone’s wife. Only the white crow still remained with her as a good friend. It liked to sit on her shoulder. When it did, she looked so strong and confident that no king or prince of any other country dared ask for her hand in marriage. Even less dared any such ruler try to invade thinking that a country r u led on ly
by a queen was an easy target. The queen never forgot how hard had been the forced labor of working for a hundred years bent over a spinning wheel. She therefore made a law to allow every servant rest in the evening. After work, people took care of themselves, or cared for the old and the sick. She herself had no wish to keep an evening servant anyway, so there was no inconvenience for her. She also sometimes spent leisure time turning the spinning wheel. It was easier for her to be absorbed in her thoughts while doing so. One day, her finger was again pricked by the needle. “Oh, my God!” she feared. But nothing bad happened, unlike the previous time. Blood, however, did drip onto her dress. The blood stain vaguely resembled a toad, its eyes crying bloody tears. Her own eyes fixed on the stain, she remembered the toad fairy. “How much pain must the toad have felt when insulted by my mother! It may have wept tears of blood deep within its heart.” The queen spoke to herself aloud, “Toad, I’m so sorry!” “Boom!” resounded a distantly familiar sound, and the white crow that had been perched beside her suddenly vanished. On the very spot stood a handsome boy.
He had been freed from the spell by the toad fairy! The queen’s heartfelt apology had melted that fairy’s frozen heart. In that moment, all others trapped in spells were likewise freed. The queen made the boy her adopted son and lived with him happily ever after. Incidentally, she also made a law prohibiting harassment of toads. Anyone who spat on a toad was punished with a coerced shower in toad’s pee. Ha-ha!
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No Need to be a Prince! Long, long ago, there was a deserted grey castle somewhere near a desolate beach. The castle was utterly covered with seaweed, so messy and unsightly. Inside lived a beast as ugly as the castle. He was covered with long dark fur. His fearsome sharp canines made people’s hair stand on end. Whoever met the beast turned and ran as fast as possible. But the beast was actually very cheerful and gentle. Moreover, he didn’t mind his beastly appearance. He liked how he looked. He combed his long dark fur daily before a mirror and diligently brushed his canines. Upon finishing, he would gaze at his image with satisfaction and talk to himself, “I look like a real beast! People should appreciate that instead of being so scared.” One day, the beast awoke from his afternoon nap and was stretching himself out along his full length when, suddenly, a woman lovely as a lily flower appeared to his astonished eyes through the window curtain blowing in the breeze. “Eh,” he thought, “isn’t she the famous Belle?” He was surprised. Belle was the most beautiful woman around. So many artists had taken her portrait, and even the beast possessed an image of her. She was as beautiful as her name implied.
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Belle had come to the beach to play and had then unwittingly entered his garden, drawn by the fragrance of his garden’s lilies. The month was July, and the garden was full of blooming lilies. The beast’s heart started pounding. “Belle is at my castle! What an honor! I should treat her well.” He stood before the mirror, quickly combing his long dark fur and brushing his sharp canines before going out into the garden. Belle was bent down for a whiff of the flowers’ scent and didn’t notice the beast coming. He approached her and spoke in a gentle voice. “You are Belle, right? Welcome to my castle.” Turning toward the gentle voice, Belle saw the beast and screamed. She then fainted. The beast was initially surprised, but quickly recalled that people had always reacted with dread at his appearance, running away in terror. He should have thought of that, but he had been so happy to see her and had shown himself without warning. It was now too late. He therefore carried her gently to a bed and waited for
her to awaken. But thinking that she might faint again if she woke up and saw him, he stepped into the next room. In that room was a large mirror. The beast gazed at his reflection. “How nice is my glossy dark fur,” he mused, “and my sharp canines are just right for a wild beast! Don’t I look the very image of a real beast? Why, then, did Belle faint at the sight of me?” He carefully began to comb the fur covering his body, and then became so joyful that he started to sing. “I’m a handsome beast with nice dark fur and charming canine teeth. But greatest of all is my heart. La-la-la-la-la! I’m a handsome beast with a warm, warm heart!” As he was singing, Belle woke up, followed the sound of joyful singing from the next room, and carefully opened the door a crack to peep into the room. And what did she find there? The scary beast was singing like a naughty little boy! Even singing that he was handsome! Looking at him, she had to giggle. At her tittering laugh, the beast turned and blushed to see her. Nobody would have noticed, of course, because his face was covered by the dark fur. Face to face with him again, Belle was startled and stopped giggling. But she didn’t faint like before. After all, if a beast can sing like that, he can’t be so scary, can he? “Belle, you woke up. I was very worried. I was so happy to see you in my flower garden that I just ran out to greet you without thinking that you might be terrified of me.” Belle couldn’t utter a word. She was not so frightened as before, but she was still nervous. She stepped back automatically. The beast was disappointed and said, “I won’t hurt you. I’m just happy to meet such a beautiful woman as you. But if you are still scared of me, you can go home. I’ll stand here without moving until you’ve gone away.” At this, she turned and ran away without even once looking back. The beast stood without moving until she had vanished. He grew sad but soon braced himself. In Belle’s eyes, he might look like a scary monster, but he knew exactly how kindhearted and beastly handsome he was. He started singing to cheer himself up.
“I’m a handsome beast with nice dark fur and charming canine teeth. But greatest of all is my heart. La-la-la-la-la! I’m a handsome beast with a warm, warm heart!” Bell had run away as fast as possible from the castle, but she couldn’t stop thinking of the beast for the next several days. His image frightened her first, but as she remembered him standing before the mirror and singing of how wonderful he was, she had to giggle. Actually, Belle was depressed whenever she herself stood before a mirror although people all praised her beauty. Carefully looking at her face, she found herself dissatisfied with her eyes, her nose, her mouth . . . . She sometimes wondered why people praised her beauty. “Ah, how nice if only my eyes were bigger and dark blue!” “Mary next door has a prettier nose than mine.” “Why do my lips look so pale today? I’ll have to add
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some color.” That’s how she was. Worrying that a more beautiful woman might some day appear, she would rush to see whenever a new woman happened to appear in the area. Or if an ordinary-looking friend suddenly seemed beautiful one day, she was surprised and worried a lot.
“What happened to her? Is she really so beautiful? What if people notice her beauty? She hasn’t truly changed much. Why does she suddenly look so beautiful?” It can happen, can’t it? A woman can become beautiful if she falls in love or becomes more confident about herself. Belle worried a lot, though nobody would expect it from such a pretty woman. She simply had no confidence in herself. For example, she would not step outside her house even to cross the street for some bread without first dressing herself up from head to toe. Belle’s lonely heart was like some dark cave filled only with the fear that she would not be loved if she were not beautiful. That’s why she wanted to always show up dressed to look pretty. She thought that people would be disappointed and dislike her if she were plainly dressed. That kept her always worried and depressed, though no one would ever have imagined this of her. But the more she worried, the more she put on selfconfidence, appearing almost arrogant. Fearful of being caught out in her worries, she tried to hide them. What a surprise her encounter with the joyful, self-confident beast must have been! list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010
“If I were the beast, I would have drowned myself. I’d be ashamed of my looks. How can he ignore such hideousness?” Belle was absorbed in these thoughts as she sat by a window and looked out at the beast’s castle in the far distance. But while she was thinking of him, she felt herself gradually drawing closer to him and finding him charming, the scary beast! Moreover, a beast singing such a funny song! As the days passed, she had more and more desire to see him again. “What’s wrong with me? Am I crazy? How can I possibly miss the beast?” She tried to shake the notion from her head but continued to miss him anyway. She wanted to see him and ask how he could be so happy despite having such a face. She wanted to learn that joyful song for herself. She also believed that she would be able to talk to him freely and honestly, not like with other people, with whom she thought she had to speak and behave elegantly to live up to her beauty. Finally, a week after the encounter, she went to visit him one day wearing a scarf to hide her face. The lilies of his garden were blooming more beautifully than the time before, and their fragrance so filled the garden that she felt almost dizzy. Belle walked around looking at the flowers, but the beast was nowhere to be seen, so she stole into the castle. From deeper within the palace came the familiar voice, singing, “I’m a handsome beast with nice dark fur and
charming canine teeth. But greatest of all is my heart. Lala-la-la-la! I’m a handsome beast with a warm, warm heart!” Hearing his song already made her feel cheerful. She undid her scarf and knocked at the door of the room from where the singing came. The singing stopped, and the beast opened the door. “Oh! It’s you, Belle! I didn’t expect you to return. Come in!” Belle no longer feared him at all. “I wanted to apologize for last time.” She hesitated, then added, “and I also came to learn your song.” “My song? Oh, you mean the one about the handsome beast? How embarrassing! It’s just something I made up.” “Could you teach me that happy song?” “Of course, it’s easy. Let’s go out into the garden. I’ll make some tea and bring it out. I felt sorry last time because I missed the chance to treat you well as my guest.” Outside in the garden, sitting on a chair among the lilies, Belle waited. The beast was very excited and quickly went to his mirror to comb his long dark fur and brush his canines. Then he made a nice tea and took it out with some cookies. Belle noticed that the beast had combed his hair and brushed his canines, but pretended as if she had noticed nothing. How strange that the very beast whom she had abhorred was growing more and more attractive. Also, how nice the tea was, and how sweet the cookies were! When they had finished their tea, the beast announced, “Alright, I will now teach you the song. Only . . . Belle, you’re so perfect that making a song for you isn’t easy. How about this? ‘I’m the happy lady Belle, lovely as a lily and perfect as a mouse. But greatest of all is my heart. La-la-lala-la! I’m beautiful Belle with a warm, warm heart!’” “Perfect . . . as a mouse?” Repeating his words, she burst into laughter. Perfect as a mouse, oh goodness, it was so ridiculous. Yet . . . she felt a bit of light shine into the darkness of her heart. “Ah, that . . .” replied the beast, and explained in a friendly manner. “The mouse’s face, though small, has everything it needs. That’s why.” “I see. Yes, I like it very much. Sing it again. I’ll follow.”
“Okay,” agreed the beast, and sang, “‘I’m the happy lady Belle, lovely as a lily and perfect as a mouse. But greatest of all is my heart. La-la-la-la-la! I’m beautiful Belle with a warm, warm heart!’” Belle sang loudly after him. “I’m the happy lady Belle, lovely as a lily and perfect as a mouse. But greatest of all is my heart. La-la-la-la-la! I’m beautiful Belle with a warm, warm heart!” The more she sang, the more brightly glowed her heart. Being perfect as a mouse was easy for her. She relaxed, and even felt herself liking herself. Happier now, Belle grew more courageous and asked the beast, “Did you know that people are afraid of you, that they think badly of you?” Shyly, the beast replied, “I know what people think of me. Last time, when you ran away, I was also very sad. But I think that I’m a great beast. Don’t I look like a real beast? This glossy dark fur and these sharp canines are just right for a wild beast, wouldn’t you agree? Moreover, I’m
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friendly and soft-hearted. . . . I really like myself as I am. But people seem to have a different opinion of me.” Belle burst into laughter at this response and said, “Yes, they do. Honestly, I also found you scary when I first saw you. But now, how strange, you look just as handsome as you claim in your song.” “Oh, I’m so happy that you finally see me as I am!” Looking at the smiling beast, Belle thought, “The beast really believes he is great. He must be completely happy with himself just as he is. If a beast can be that happy about his looks, then why can’t I?” From that day on, every morning, Belle stood before her mirror and sang the song that the beast had composed for her. “I’m the happy lady Belle, lovely as a lily and perfect as a mouse. But greatest of all is my heart. La-la-la-la-la! I’m beautiful Belle with a warm, warm heart!” Whenever she sang the song, she felt warmed to her heart, and so lovely, too. More and more, she came to like herself just as she was. She no longer needed to always dress up to see people. She was happy for a friend who looked beautiful. She didn’t need to pretend self-confidence or present herself as arrogant. People stopped calling her “the most beautiful woman around.” No more artists came to make her portraits. Belle was happy, however. Happily, she sang her song, and her friends who overheard asked her to make songs for them. Belle turned to the beast for help, and he made exactly the right song for each person. Over time, all the villagers had their own songs, each one composed by the beast. They would sing these before their mirrors. For example, the chubby butcher sang like this: “I’m a butcher with a chunky strong waist, and I’m able to use the knife. But greatest of all is my heart. La-la-la-la-la! I’m the nicest man with a warm, warm heart!” Or the woman at the bakery with a flat nose, who sang list_ Books from Korea Vol.7 Spring 2010
like this: “I’m a pretty woman, cute with a little flat nose, who can bake tasty bread. But greatest of all is my heart. La-la-la-la-la! I’m the nicest woman with a warm, warm heart!” When they sang their songs, they all became happy. People no longer recalled that they had once been scared of the beast. Whenever they now saw the beast, they didn’t run away but sang their songs joyfully. “Why on earth were we so afraid of the beast earlier?” they would wonder. Oh, but you want to know what happened to Belle and the beast? The beast was not freed from a spell to become a prince, unlike in the old stories. He was already great like a prince, so there was no need for him to change, was there? Belle and the beast were good friends for a long time, and eventually got married. They became the best couple in the world! It didn’t matter whether others thought this about them or not, they simply believed it themselves! Moreover, they are still happy together, and still singing a song together. “We’re a great, great couple, a husband with nice dark fur and a wife perfect as a mouse. But greatest of all are our hearts. La-la-la-la-la! We’re a happy couple loving each other well!”
Sleeping Beauty? Hardly! Lee Kyunghye, Baram Books 2008, 139p ISBN 978-89-9087-869-4
Vol.6 Winter 2009 A Quarterly Magazine for Publishers Vol.6 Winter 2009 A Quarterly Magazine for Publishers
Top Five Questions for Vol.6 Winter 2009 A Quarterly Magazine for Publishers
Vol.6 Winter 2009 A Quarterly Magazine for Publishers
Vol.6 Winter 2009
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Vol.6 Winter 2009 A Quarterly Magazine for Publishers
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Vol.7 Spring 2010
Vol.7 Spring 2010
Books That Children Live By Interview Novelist Kim
DMZ A Place of Peace Protected by Non-peace
Special Section Books That Children Live By Interview Novelist Kim Yeon-su