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Korean Publishers


Almond Publishing

We make sturdy books with compassionate content




Almonds have a hard nut with a soft, nutty flavor when you bite into it. Just like almonds, there is a publishing company that approaches readers with a strong but gentle gaze. Almond Publishing is a one-man publishing company specializing in the field of humanities and psychology. Founded in 2021, it has published 16 titles in less than three years. This shows how diligently the company has been running since its foundation. During the short interview with Lee Eun-Jung, the CEO of Almond Publishing, who says that it was fulfilling and joyful to publish psychology books as an editor, we could feel her strong love for the field. CEO Lee Eun-Jung was a dedicated publisher of books addressing the human mind with warmth in her gaze toward both writers and readers. We spoke with Ms. Lee, who has been bringing voices to the world that are often in the shadows but definitely exist somewhere.


Logo of Almond Publishing

Logo of Almond Publishing

Logo of Almond Publishing



It’s a pleasure to have you with us on K-Book Trends. Please introduce Almond Publishing to our international readers along with the meaning of the company’s name.


Almond Publishing is a publisher specializing in humanities and psychology. “Almond” is a nickname for the amygdala, the part of the brain that regulates emotions and feelings. It is said to come from the Greek word “almond” because it looks like an almond. This is why I named the publishing house “Almond.” I hoped its books would encompass the human mind, including emotions and feelings.


Was there a particular reason for choosing “psychology” as the specialty?


When I was founding the company, I looked back at my career and asked myself: what books did I have the most fun making? What books have been the most rewarding? I had to think long and hard about it. The reason I focused on “rewarding” and “fun” was because of sustainability. I thought that if it wasn’t rewarding or fun, it wouldn’t be sustainable. Then I realized that the books that I enjoyed working on as an editor at the previous publisher were mostly about psychology.
Another reason was that I thought it would be better for a small publishing house to select and curate books in a specific field. As a one-man publishing house with a lack of capital and limited maneuverability, I thought it would be less competitive to aim for a general publishing house. I guess you could say that I made a choice between personal preference and market positioning strategy, but I think the honest answer would be that I just happened to make psychology books like this. (laughs)



I find it rewarding and fun to work on psychology books.



Your publishing bio states, “We make books that toughen your heart.” What are some of your signature books that best represent this identity?


This is a very difficult question, because I believe that every book helps strengthen the mind of its readers in its own area. However, if I had to choose one book, I would carefully pick Professor Peter Jongho Na’s A New York Psychiatrist’s Human Library. It is a book by a New York-based psychiatrist who advocates for the breakdown of stigma and hatred towards mental illness, and a move towards understanding and coexistence. Although public perception of mental illness has improved in recent years, there is still a strong prejudice that psychiatric patients are just “crazy people.” This book stresses that mental illness is a thing to be “fought” just like physical illness, while countering the often dismissed topic of suicide, especially in Korean culture (Eastern culture). There are reviews that say that reading this book helped them break down their prejudices against suicide, and I think it is a book that represents Almond Publishing in that it is both heartwarming and firm.


A New York Psychiatrist’s Human Library

A New York Psychiatrist’s Human Library



You went from working for a large publishing house to founding a one-man publishing company, Almond Publishing. Was there a particular impetus for that?


I didn’t have a specific reason; I just wanted to build my own house. It wasn’t like my prior company life was challenging (it was actually very good). The books were doing well, I had a good relationship with the people I was working with, and it would not have been weird to just stay there and work. But as I reflected on my life, I realized that I had always been a “go for it” kind of person when I was unsure what to do. I was in a very stable situation, but the moment I realized that I wanted to build my own house, I thought, “Oh, this is something I should do, even if I regret it.”
As much as I was happy in my previous workplace, there were definitely times in the early days of the business when I (very much) regretted leaving the company. Of course, I still don’t fully believe I made the right decision to go out on my own, but I realized that if I was going to do it someday, I should have done it sooner. If you are going to regret it if you do it, and if you are going to regret it if you don’t do it as well, then you should do it.


Having experienced both a large publishing house and a one-man publishing company, what are the pros and cons of being a one-man publishing company?


I think I was burdened by the downsides of being a one-man publishing house until 2022. The pressure to do everything by myself - I think that was the biggest weakness. In a large publishing company, the editor only needs to focus on planning and producing books because the tasks are well distributed. You can just concentrate on putting the book together and leave the marketing to the marketers, the business management to the administration, and the production to the production department. However, when it comes to a one-man publishing house, you are pretty much on your own. The scope of your work expands infinitely, and I think it was a period of adjusting to that change until the beginning of last year.
Now, I can say that I have gotten used to it a little bit, though not entirely, because I have repeated the process of mastering the tasks that I hadn’t been doing with each book, and also because I chose to take what I needed to take and leave what I need to leave based on the priorities. I mean, you can’t be good at everything, and you can’t do everything. You have to focus on what you have to do and not overlook the things you have to take care of. So, I think it feels incomparably satisfying when I can see even a small achievement. Besides, I think the advantage of being a one-man publishing house is that I can do what I want, where I want, when I want (not 100% of the time, of course).



I want to bring to light voices that are in the shadows, but are definitely out there somewhere.



You have published 16 titles since establishing the company in 2021. How have you been able to keep publishing so many books?


Sixteen titles... I’m surprised, too. I made it sound like I was working alone, but I actually have some very valuable partners. I have a great team of editors, designers, and producers that I have been working with for a long time, and without their hard work, I wouldn’t have been able to keep releasing high-quality books as a one-person publisher.


Your most recent book, Am I A Survivor Of The Disaster, marks the first year of the Itaewon tragedy, which was widely reported by foreign media. It depicts the heartbreaking scars of Korean society. How was this book planned and published? Please give us a brief introduction to the book.


Cholong Kim, writer of Am I A Survivor Of The Disaster, was a survivor of the Itaewon tragedy that took the lives of 159 people on October 29, 2022. I was already familiar with Cholong Kim’s story, as it went viral in online communities after the tragedy. It was viewed more than 500,000 times on anonymous forums, and was serialized in the leading daily newspaper, The Hankyoreh, and online newspaper, Oh My News, for more people to read. At the time of the tragedy, the general attitude toward it was, “What’s the fuss? They went out to play and ended up dead.” However, Cholong Kim’s story said, “They didn’t die because they went out to play, but because they were just going about their daily lives,” and “It wasn’t their fault that they went there, but they should have been protected so that they could return home safely wherever they went,” and I think that changed the perspective and resonated with many people.
What I found particularly noteworthy was that the Korean Psychological Association (KPA) at the time saw the urgency of the situation and quickly provided free disaster trauma counseling. Cholong Kim took advantage of that counseling system and wrote about it in her book. She described how she called the Association when she was experiencing traumatic symptoms and talked with the counselor. While counseling is not a cure-all, I think she demonstrated a wise way for individuals to cope with traumatic situations.
The surprise here is that Almond Publishing didn’t make the offer to publish the book, but Cholong Kim did. Cholong Kim told me that she saw Professor Na, the writer of the aforementioned New York Psychiatrist’s Human Library, on a popular Korean talk program and felt like she was receiving therapy remotely as she listened to his stories. She said that as she found and read our books, she thought that if it was the same place that published Professor Na’s book, it must be the one that could be on the same page as her, and knocked on the door first. As soon as I opened the submission email, the first thing that came to my mind was the realization that this was going to be a very important work, and I felt a sense of gratitude and emotional warmth that Cholong Kim believed in and reached out to me. I think it was a very emotionally-powerful manuscript.


Am I A Survivor Of The Disaster

Am I A Survivor Of The Disaster



As you mentioned, there is a growing awareness of the importance and need for the field of psychology in Korea. Do you have any plans to publish books for teenagers or children to further expand your audience, or what other areas of psychology do you plan to expand into?


I think the young adult and children’s book market runs on a completely different grammar that is not commonly referred to as “psychology.” So, I don’t think I will be able to break into it, but in the very long run, I wish to publish books that solidify the minds of teenagers and children. And while Almond Publishing is in the field of psychology, it makes general books written by experts in the field of psychology and mental health (psychiatry) rather than classical psychology. However, because discussing psychology without mentioning biology (life science, brain science, etc.) was impossible, I am also looking to expand into relevant science books.


Can you tell us about the most impactful sentence from any of your books? Please share an introduction to the book and any message you would like to give readers of Almond Publishing’s books.


“Hide the money, rumor the illness” is a line from My Schizophrenic Uncle. It was also used as the tagline for the book. What I would like to point out is that this quote does not apply to mental illness. I would like to ask why mental illness, especially schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression, are not included in the category of “illnesses that need to be talked about.” The book My Schizophrenic Uncle is a story about an uncle who suffered from schizophrenia for 40 years. The writer, Hanee Lee, is not only a family member of a mentally ill person, but also a journalist. While capturing the intense, challenging aspects of having a family member with a mental illness, she also tried to keep the story balanced by interviewing other family members, psychiatrists, and advocates.
While working on this book, I realized that the topic of mental health is both personal and social. I witnessed up close that people with mental illnesses and disorders, such as depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, have to fight a double battle: fighting their own illnesses, plus the prejudice and stigma of society. That’s why I decided to share not only the stories of experts, but also the stories of people with mental illnesses and disabilities, voices that are often hidden in the shadows but definitely exist somewhere.


My Schizophrenic Uncle

My Schizophrenic Uncle



Is there any Almond Publishing book that you would like to share with international readers?


First, I would like to introduce My Scary And Pathetic Patients. The National Forensic Psychiatry Hospital is Korea’s only national institution that houses mentally ill criminals, and although it has been open for more than 30 years, few people know where it is or what it does. Despite having 1,000 beds, the largest in the country for a single institution, there were only five psychiatrists working full-time, including the writer. That is nearly 170 patients per doctor. My Scary And Pathetic Patients is a book written by Dr. Seungmin Cha, a psychiatrist who has been working at the hospital for four years. It is the first book to tell the full story of what goes on inside the hospital, a story that has never been properly disclosed until now.
The writer, who conducted psychiatric evaluations of criminal suspects in high-profile cases, candidly shares the stories behind them, her thoughts and feelings about them, as well as various criminal psychiatric evaluations and stories of patients she has encountered. In particular, the stories of patients with paraphilias, psychopaths, and drug addicts, who are rarely encountered in general psychiatry, are some of the unfamiliar and unique cases that can only be found in this book. This book does not analyze the psychology of criminals. Instead, it is an open and honest account of a group of people who exist only as “scary people,” as only an insider who lives with them can tell.


My Scary And Pathetic Patients

My Scary And Pathetic Patients



The second is The Connected Suffering, an account of Dr. Kibyung Lee’s three years as an internal physician and anthropological researcher working at a medical center for foreign workers. In an era of dichotomies that divide between health and unhealth, body and mind, life and death, and me and you, this book interprets and reconstructs sick bodies that cannot be put into a single medical category through an anthropological lens. As we confront the faces in this book, questions naturally arise - What is the ability to listen to the body? Are body and mind, life and death, completely separable? Are illness and death solely the responsibility of an individual? What is care, and is good care possible? These are profound questions that cannot be taken lightly, and this book does not provide clear answers. Instead, it invites the audience to imagine and investigate new possibilities.
Alternating between friendly medical knowledge and hard-hitting anthropological interpretation, the book takes us into a new world of stories that have never before been so accessible. As you read, you will feel as if you are sitting in a small clinic room. Sometimes, you will be in the mind of the doctor, feeling frustrated and anxious because you can’t reach your patient, and sometimes, you will be the patient, feeling lonely and upset by the doctor’s indifference to your story. As we read, we are brought face to face with the pain of the characters in the book.


The Connected Suffering

The Connected Suffering



The last book I would like to introduce is The Mind Behind Self-Harm. It is a general liberal arts book that delves into self-harm, a topic that has been consumed by inflammatory articles and is only covered in the academic realm. The writer, Lim Min-Kyung, is a clinical psychologist who studies self-harm and a “former self-harmer.” In the book, she carefully reveals her experiences, thoughts, and feelings from the perspective of a self-harmer, while maintaining a scientific and objectivist perspective as a researcher, meticulously reviewing domestic and international research papers and historical literature. The book also includes interviews with ten people who are currently self-harming or who have self-harmed in the past but have recently stopped, as she wanted to capture the true feelings of more self-harmers beyond her own limited experience. She also interviewed a teacher who works as a counselor in a school. This is why the book is able to maintain a “balanced” view without simply making emotional appeals to understand self-injury, or objectifying the self-injurer as an observer.
The writer says she hesitated about whether she should continue writing and thought about giving up several times. But, she was encouraged by her counselor, who said, “Keep writing for that one person for whom this book will be meaningful.” In the introduction, she writes, “I was too greedy to pick just one person.” Still, I’m confident that readers who finish the book will realize that it is partly an intimate love letter to her past self (and to all self-harmers today), and partly a gentle invitation to all of us to think about what a “life worth living” is.


The Mind Behind Self-Harm

The Mind Behind Self-Harm



We look forward to seeing what the future holds for Almond Publishing as it makes books that strengthen the mind. Do you have any plans for a new book or future goals?


I’m working on a memoir by a person with anorexia and a journalist. I’m also preparing a book that analyzes what emotions ordinary tragedies leave us with, and what emotional ebbs and flows they create, through the eyes of anthropologists. I really appreciate your anticipation of what’s to come, but for now, my goal is to make each and every book this year with all my heart, but with hope, “Please, help Almond Publishing survive.” (laughs)




#Almond#One-man publishing#Psychology#Mental health
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