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Korean Publishers


Hugo Publishing

Where Various Voices are Heard




Each of our lives has different stories. As we grow up in society, there are moments of happiness and sadness, and encounters with things that are beneficial to us and things that are not. There’s a publisher that cherishes and highlights things that we drop or lose while we race on the track of life. Hugo Publishing focuses on capturing the voices of each and everything that is easy to be forgotten. Following is an interview with Hugo Publishing, which values the connection between individuals and the numerous entities surrounding them.



Logo of Hugo Publishing



It’s an honor to have you on K-Book Trends. Please introduce yourself to our international readers.


Two editors began publishing in 2013, releasing the first book, The Purpose of Boys. Since then, we’ve been publishing liberal arts books, starting with books about psychology and mental analysis. In 2017, we cooperated with two other publishing houses – Jecheolso and Conan Books, and published the Anyway series, a non-fiction series about preferences, and got much attention. More recently, we launched a social science series titled “Dot, Line, and Plane” that highlights the connection between individuals and society. When we first set up the company, our motto was “We support adolescents that never go down in their minds.” The society we’re living in calls for growth. However, we lose a lot in that process. And we think that the lost things have important elements in life.


* K-Book Trends Vol. 45 – Go to the interview of Jecheolso


Hugo Publishing has been making books in various fields, spanning non-fiction, liberal arts, and social sciences. What are the screening standards, or what do you prioritize when choosing a book?


We believe that the identity of a publishing house comes from the “voice.” The voice starts from one reader and resonates with the overall society. We tend to choose books that have the capacity to make such a voice. “Is the story worth emphasizing?” “Can the story bring changes in life (or society)?” And, another important thing we consider is “connection.” While our lives are interconnected with various beings in the world, such as other people, animals, and nature, we tend to forget about it. So, Hugo Publishing is interested in the forgotten connection and the topics that revive it.


You began as an editor before setting up Hugo Publishing. Starting a business on your own must have been a big decision. What was the key trigger that made you do it?


Hugo Publishing began with two editors. We both had about 10 years of experience in publishing. The job of an editor has some kind of a weird tendency. They don’t just want to “make” books, but they want to “give body to something” through the book. And, it is hard to do so in big companies, as that “something” is likely to be the “voice” ordered by the upper decision makers. So, we decided to start our own business to have our own “voice.”



We began Hugo Publishing to have our unique identity and “voice.”



You must have had hardships as a small-sized publishing house. What was the driver that made you race to this moment?


First, is my fellow co-worker. I think we could come to this level as we have had each other since the beginning. When you are producing books, every moment demands you to make a decision. I thought we could manage to run Hugo Publishing without any significant failures because we shared opinions and thought about them together every time. The second is the series. Hugo Publishing has been publishing the Anyway and Dot, Line, and Plane series, and we think they helped us continue adding new volumes without losing track.


If you could recommend books that best reflect the values of Hugo Publishing to international readers, what would they be?


The first book we want to introduce is Anyway, Vegan, which can be regarded as the representative volume of the Anyway series. It is about how graphic novel writer Kim Han-Min, also a member of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, began living as a vegetarian. The book explains how the writer, who once used to enjoy eating meat became a vegetarian, how he is keeping up with the dietary change, and how he changed his perspective towards animals. Also, suggesting how to practice “veganism” little by little, the book helps readers slowly shift to living a vegan life, without being obsessed with perfectness. In the last part, he introduces frequently asked questions about vegans and gives answers to them, which hints at the logic and philosophy of vegans.
Next book is On the Path to Becoming Me Again, the first volume of the Dot, Line, and Plane series. Writer Choi Hyeon-Hee, an elementary school teacher, has been steadily raising her voice for the need for feminist education in schools, being called “the priming water teacher.” In the summer of 2017, her interview with an online news outlet where she said that schools need to educate feminism went viral on the Internet, making her the target of outrageous attacks from others across websites. The interview was even distorted, creating a false rumor that she “hates male students” and “supports homosexual love.” As a result, her school and the office of education received so many negative civil complaints. Just because the news outlet released the article without any fact checks, she was even sued for “child abuse” by extreme organizations. The book On the Path to Becoming Me Again is a recovery journal of feminist teacher Choi Hyeon-Hee, which has 4 years’ worth of records about how she strived to recover from the torn-apart life due to social violence.
Happy Words in the Sad World is the story of people the writer, a radio PD, met. From a fisherman who carries the promise he made himself like a lifelong partner, to an old woman who became wholeheartedly open-eared to others in the later part of life, a fisherman who knows the pleasure of seeing how the fish takes the bait and drags it underwater, a young woman that sells vegetables who is also a mentor of an old lady at the rice cake shop, a father who lost his son in the Sewol Tragedy, a man who lost his older brother in the 9/11 attacks, and a Columbine shooting survivor, their lives are very much different from one another. Their trajectory of life, current life, and the trials they face today are different. However, they are all living in the same world. They know what words are important to them, and some feel the pleasure of saying exactly what they want to say. So, then, what are their stories trying to tell us? The writer succinctly says at the end of the book, “No matter what future comes, the future is in the hands of human beings. I know nothing else, but I know how graceful a human being can be when they are living as a human being. So, I wanted to say that humans can exist differently than they do now. I wanted to say that it is possible not to waste our time being born as a human being.”





Anyway, Vegan, On the Path to Becoming Me Again, and Happy Words in the Sad World



The Anyway series, jointly produced with Jecheolso and Conan Books, is about “preferences.” How does Hugo Publishing choose topics for the series? How is Hugo Publishing’s Anyway series different from the other two publishers?


The colors of the three publishers are not distinctively different, but we do think that they have different characteristics. There were quite a lot of people that only read volumes published by a certain publishing house. It’s not that they deliberately choose that particular publisher. It means that each publisher is consistently exerting a unique mood. Conan Books seems interested in the narrative of women in their 20s and 30s. Jecheolso takes a more careful approach to preferences. Hugo Publishing is interested in delivering messages extended from “preferences.” We want to cover topics we want people to like as a member of our community, even though they might not be the subject of preference today. Woodpeckers, vegans, memos... well, those kinds of topics.


While Hugo Publishing has been making books about little stories in daily life, like the Anyway series, you have also published books about death and sorrow, such as Happy Words in the Sad World and I Don’t Know How to Take This Death. What message did you intend to deliver through these books?


We didn’t particularly focus on death and sorrow. We are interested in individuals’ narratives. There’s a phrase that explains the Dot, Line, and Plane series, “A plane is a dot consisting of lines. As a dot with unique stories, we imagine other lives, refer to them, and understand our life and the world. The Dot, Line, and Plane series focuses on vividly delivering individuals’ stories.” As we focused on the “vividly deliver” part, we think that topics like death and sorrow naturally blended into the story. There are indispensable topics when talking about life.



I Don’t Know How to Take This Death



Hugo Publishing has been steadily opening offline events such as the Anyway series exhibition held last December and book concerts with writers. So what kind of events do you want to plan in the new year?


We haven’t set up special plans yet. Offline events are a big burden to a small publishing house. As we lack much time even for making books, we don’t have the capacity to work on events. But, of course, we know that we should be working on this. The Anyway series exhibition was first suggested by the local bookstore Thanks Books, which gave us the courage to open it. It got a good response as well. At the moment, we are thinking of publishing books steadily, and collaborating with a full heart if we receive good suggestions.


We look forward to your next move, as you have such diverse values. What are Hugo Publishing’s goals and plans for the future?


It’s been 10 years since we published our first book. The 10-year journey left us with things we should keep and things we should discard. Some topics are not timely anymore, some topics need more development, and some new issues should be covered. We think it is time to trim our voice as a publisher, even though it might not be a total makeover. And while focusing on these parts, we will continuously publish books, just like last year.




#Hugo Publishing#Anyway#Dot, Line, and Plane#Preference
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