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Korean Publishers



A Publisher that Makes Stories for Spring




Warm sunshine fills the world, and bright green buds are sprouting – it’s spring. Publishing house Namhaebomnal, located in Tongyeong-si, Gyeongssangnam-do, the region where spring comes first in Korea, publishes stories that are warm, like spring days. Producing and discovering unique cultural arts content and valuable stories in Tongyeong, Namhaebomnal is a medium-sized publishing house that went into its 10th year last year. Following is an interview with Namhaebomnal, which has been diligently growing the flower of culture like sprouts in spring through various projects such as running the Bomnal Bookstore, a cultural space in Tongyeong, and cooperating with other publishers, on top of publishing books.


남해의봄날 로고

Logo of Namhaebomnal



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


Many people think that we are living in Namhae because of the company’s name, but Namhaebomnal is a name that we made thinking of the southern coast of Korea (namhae) as a whole. Tongyeong-si, Gyeongsangnam-do, where we are located, is also a small city by the coast. The hope is to publish stories that can be like spring to someone, as the region is where spring arrives first in Korea.
Every person has their own story. As the time and experiences that the person has had throughout life become their history, the space we live in has a unique story as it blends with people and time. Tongyeong, which is famous for being the hometown of cultural artists such as Yoon Isang, Park Kyung-Ni, Yoo Chi-Hwan, Kim Choon-Su, Jeon Hyuk-Rim, and Kim Sang-Ok, is a repository of stories with rich content. Namhaebomnal, located in a small village by the beautiful ocean of Tongyeong, has been making valuable content in the region that should not be forgotten as well as hidden stories across the southern coast into books, and communicating with readers.


Namhaebomnal is located in Tongyeong, while most Korean publishing houses are concentrated in the metropolitan area. Was there a special reason for settling in Tongyeong?


Tongyeong has such beautiful natural resources, but it also has rich cultural and artistic resources. However, no matter how good content can be, if it is not recorded, it vanishes. And it’s like the life and history of the region are being forgotten. So, learning about new content in Tongyeong, we decided to do publishing here as we wanted more people to know about these magnificent stories. From the perspective of content discovery, Tongyeong is like a treasure chest. We have been having fun doing it, as the job is fun and worthwhile. Of course, there are sometimes hardships, but it’s natural considering its importance.



We began publishing with the hope of making more people know about the magnificent stories of Tongyeong.



You said you ran a company specializing in storytelling for 7 years in Seoul. How did that experience help in managing a publishing house?


I used to run a small company in Hongdae, Seoul, with about 10 staff members. Specializing in content planning and brand storytelling, we mainly helped companies with their brand storytelling and various on- and offline media content. The job was tough and exhausting, but we could learn and experience many things. However, we thought that we needed our own story, our own content, not just making stories for others. That’s how we started publishing. We wanted to tell “real” stories to the world. We have gone through numerous trials and errors, but those experiences worked like fertilizer for starting the business in a totally new region with no connections with the local community. Also, they helped us with making stories that interweave “Tongyeong,” “Namhae (southern coast),” and “region,” and communicate through various media.


Series books catch our eyes when we look at your book list. Can you briefly introduce them to us and each series’ characteristics?


Namhaebomnal makes good books necessary to the world, finds new alternatives for work and life, and communicates small but precious values through books. We publish books in three fields – Vision Books, Local Books, and The Artist Bomnal Loves. We have been interacting with readers mainly through books on humanities, society, non-fiction, and art.
First, Vision Books seeks new possibilities in work and life and suggests alternatives. It has books like Why I Work for a Small Company, Interviews with Young Planners, Who Will be on Their Side?, and Young People Who Continue Their Family Business.
Meanwhile, Local Books keeps records of stories of people who have settled in the region with love for the area, as well as various, unique cultural content in the region, regardless of its size. Its publications include The Corner Store is Always Open, the Somewhere, Someone series, My Strange and Fantastic Local Life, and content about Tongyeong, such as Seasonal Delicious Food in Tongyeong and Conversation in Painting: Letters to My Father.


* K-Book Trends Vol. 56 – Go to the article about Somewhere, Someone


Lastly, The Artist Bomnal Loves talks about creators that communicate with the world through their own languages, such as writings, pictures, and music. It mainly discovers writers with beautiful stories that are yet not known to the world or works that the world does not know yet. It has also published books like My Darling, My Love, My Life (letters written by Isang Yun to his wife from 1956 to 1961), the only book written by Yun Isang, one of the best composers in the 20th century, as well as Illuminated Life of Maud Lewis and Maud’s Country, that describe the works and life of Maud Lewis, who is known as the protagonist of the movie “Maudie.”


* Learn more about books published by Namhaebomnal



『나는 작은 회사에 다닌다』

『누가 그들의 편에 설 것인가』

『가업을 잇는 청년들』

Why I Work for a Small Company, Who Will be on Their Side?, and Young People Who Continue Their Family Business


『구멍가게, 오늘도 문 열었습니다』


『여보, 나의 마누라, 나의 애인』

The Corner Store is Always Open, Seasonal Delicious Food in Tongyeong, and My Darling, My Love, My Life



In 2022, you opened a commemorative exhibition marking the 10th anniversary. It must have been more meaningful as it showcased the works of authors that you’ve been working with until then. What was it like to be planning for the exhibition, and how do you feel about running Namhaebomnal for 10 years?


So many people came to participate in the exhibition commemorating the 10th anniversary of the company. It was such a delightful experience as we could see the faces of people we hadn’t met due to the pandemic. The 10-year journey was not easy, of course, but it taught us many things. As we reviewed our past years and unfolded them anew in the exhibition space, all the staff members felt proud and were energized to prepare for the next decade. Thanks to our members who put everything they had into the exhibition with brilliant ideas and visitors that traveled a far distance, the exhibition came to a successful end.
Looking back at the path Namhaebomnal has been walking on, we have cooperated with Bookstay Network, National Local Bookstore Network, and local publishers in various projects. And through various such bonds, we have been making efforts to change the ecosystem surrounding us more favorably. Rather than building power by expanding the company’s size, we gathered wisdom from each individual to overcome hardships. We didn’t want to do it, but someone had to do it. But, thanks to that, we could build new relationships with good people. It was the best thing. Anyway, we successfully completed the 10th-anniversary exhibition, and Namhaebomnal became a corporation last September. We took our first step as the “social creative content firm.” We still have a lot to do and a long way to go, but we will do our best in our every move.


Namhaebomnal has been meeting readers through various events such as book fairs and special lectures on top of the 10th-anniversary exhibition. What are you planning for the new year?


As this is the first year we spend as a corporation, we plan to strengthen our structure and capacity and increase the number of titles we publish to 10. In addition, we will publish good books, have more active meetings with readers through the nationwide local bookstore tour with authors, and upgrade the Chaekbadabom (a book subscription service) to be a special gift for our readers.
Bomnal Bookstore, run by Namhaebomnal, will be opening book talks, which have been sluggish due to the pandemic, once a month this year. We will invite author Oh Kyunga, the best garden designer in March, and we will have interesting events with journalist Kim Joo-Wan, who has shown the best local content through Kim Jang-Ha’s documentary and books, in April.
Also, we are preparing various projects collaborating with cultural artists from Bongsugol Village, where we live. As we will turn the entire village into an art museum, open various classes, and have interesting events, you can look forward to it!



Gathering wisdom from each and one of us for every challenge we face was how we handled problems until today.



Just as you mentioned earlier, Namhaebomnal is running Bomnal Bookstore. What is Bomnal Bookstore?


Bomnal Bookstore opened in October 2014, three years after the establishment of Namhaebomnal. Its theme is “a space that talks about Tongyeong’s life and art,” and it is applied to the shelves and the overall space. We bought an abandoned house then, and my architect husband fixed every part of it for more than 6 months and turned it into a bookstore. At first, a small room approximately 13 square meters was used as the bookstore. The rest of the building was used for book stays. However, as more people than we expected came, we transformed the entire book stay into the bookstore. We added more shelves, and small book talks also occur in the bookstore. While a bookstore is for selling books, it is also where stories gather. As the bookstore has revitalized the old village, inviting cultural artists to the region, the village has become a fun place to live in. So, we have realized the power of a bookstore as a cultural space once again.


You must know the charming points of Tongyeong more than anyone, as Namhaebomnal is located in Tongyeong. Therefore, please introduce “book spots” international readers should visit when they come to Tongyeong in the future.


Living years here, we realized that Tongyeong has more to offer than raw fish and the ocean. Tongyeong is full of artists’ footsteps, from the 12 craftsmen of Tongyeong to Park Kyung-Ni, Kim Choon-Su, Yun Isang, Baek Seok, and Lee Joong-Seop, not to mention interesting and thrilling stories. Suppose you visit Tongyeong in the full spring. In that case, we ask you to come to Bomnal Bookstore first, look around the Park Kyung-Ni Memorial Hall nearby, and participate in the Tongyeong International Music Festival. The festival will be the best romantic moment you can enjoy in Tongyeong, where musicians from around the world gather around the place with a great view of the southern coast.
Suppose you want a more special memorable trip to Tongyeong. In that case, we suggest following the course introduced in Art Trip: The Best Way to Experience Tongyeong, a book published by Namhaebomnal after collecting data for 3 years by visiting every part of the region. As the book offers courses you can walk along in Tongyeong, following the traces of writers, artisans, and musicians, it will be a great travel guide.


『통영을 만나는 가장 멋진 방법: 예술기행』

Art Trip: The Best Way to Experience Tongyeong



We look forward to the next move of Namhaebomnal, a publisher that spreads the beauty of Tongyeong. What are your future plans?


There are so many beautiful regions in Korea. It would be great if we could give people the stimulus to take a break and think about other life and other choices in this busy society, where everyone seems to be racing towards the same end in Seoul. We hope more people can meet a new life in a new region, and take on new challenges. And for that to come true, it would be important that Namhaebomnal stays firm for a long time. (laughs) We will keep on doing our best. Thanks.




#Namhaebomnal#Tongyeong#Bomnal Bookstore#Chaekbadabom
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