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Hyeonamsa

Laying Out the Foundation for Korean Law

 

2021.04.05

 

Publisher Hyeonamsa was founded under the name of “Konguk Gongron” in 1945 when Korea was liberated from the Japanese occupation. Then, the name was changed to today’s Hyeonamsa with the pen name of founder Jo Sang-Won. It has become the bona fide publisher for Korean law, starting with the first statute book Law Book. Today, the publisher publishes general, liberal arts, and children’s books along with law books. Under the motto of “Coexisting life, coexisting books,” Hyeonamsa chooses its staff, writers, and readers as the secret supporters that helped the publisher devote itself to publishing for 76 years. Following is the interview with Hyeonamsa, a company that wants to become a “mature,” adult-like publisher.

 

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What is the meaning of the name Hyeonamsa?

 

Hyeonam (玄巖) is actually the pen name of founder Jo Sang-Won. He founded “Konguk Gongron” in 1945 as a comprehensive magazine publisher. The company then changed the name to “Hyeonamsa,” following the pen name of the founder. Poet Park Mok-Wol gave the name Hyeonam to Sir Jo Sang-Won, which means “a rock covered with moss.”

 

What are the “good” books and writing publisher Hyeonamsa wants to make?

 

We think that good books and writing are those that encourage their readers to take a step forward themselves through books, no matter where they are in their life.

 

What standard does Hyeonamsa prioritize when it comes to choosing authors or works?

 

First of all, we choose books that talk about fresh topics in line with the rapidly changing generation that are necessary for new readers. Second, we try to discover authors that write in a way that today’s readers demand. Lastly, we look for works that deliver invariable values to readers that do not change over time.

 

Publisher Hyeonamsa is a leading publisher in law. Please introduce the first law book made in Korea, Law Book.

 

The Law Book was first published in April 1959. Nowadays, we call collections of legislation a “law book,” but around the time back then, it was like a brand name that referred to the “Law Book of Hyeonamsa.” Before that, such books were called “a compendium of laws,” a term brought in from Japan. So, to change this name, Sir Hyeonam created the “Law Book” with reference from Gyeonggukdaejeon and Taejonhoetong. And as his Law Book began to gain popularity, people started to call books of the same type as “law books,” and it eventually became a proper noun that refers to “a book of legislation enacted by the country” and was included in the Standard Korean Language Dictionary.

 

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Law Book

 

 

 

We have been publishing various law books
to help the public have an easier understanding of the law and get familiar with it.

 

 

Please introduce us to some of the various law books published by Hyeonamsa.

 

As the publisher that made the “law book” for the first time in Korea, Hyeonamsa has been carrying out various activities to help the public have an easier understanding of the law. In 1964, we published Monthly Report of Law, which was the first law magazine. Since then, its name changed to Monthly Law Book, Law Times, Today’s Law, and Law & Biz, issuing more than 100 editions. In the 1980s, Hyeonamsa published Dictionary of Purified Legal Terms, which was an innovative attempt to change Japanese-style legal terms into Korean. Such contribution was recognized by the government, after which Hyeonamsa participated in the Easy-to-Understand Legislation Project in 2006 as an external specialist. Currently, Hyeonamsa produces many fun and easy law-related books for people to get more familiar with the law, apart from law books for professionals.
To pick three representative books among them, the first one is Twenty of the Greatest Constitutional Court Decisions in History of Korea which talks about the history of Korea’s Supreme Court through 20 cases. From marriage restrictions of couples with the same surname and place of family origin to the presidential impeachment, the book is meaningful in that it provides us a chance to look back on how our society has evolved. The second book is A Lawyer Who Reads Paintings, which is a lawyer’s legal interpretation of stories embedded in globally famous pictures. The last one is Thirty-One of the Greatest Trials in World History, which is a vivid representation of various trials from the one held in Athens for Socrates in 399 BC to the one in Japan where a venture company was filed in a lawsuit in 2011.

 

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Twenty of the Greatest Constitutional Court Decisions in History of Korea, A Lawyer Who Reads Paintings, Thirty-One of the Greatest Trials in World History

 

 

What motivated Hyeonamsa to publish diverse law books?

 

In April 1959, Hyeonamsa published a statute book with the title “Law Book” for the first time in Korea. Using the unique editing skill (referring to relevant provisions) developed by Sir Hyeonam Jo Sang-Won, where it had been difficult for people to look up legislations without expertise, the book received an explosive response from readers as it allowed anyone to make use of legislations. Not surprisingly, the book recorded sell-outs every moment its copies were made available to the public.
Starting with this statute book, Hyeonamsa began to publish more various law books to help the public feel more familiar with the law. Yet, with the advancement of the Internet today, not many people are looking up in paper law books as they can easily search provisions on the official website of the Ministry of Government Legislation.
However, Hyeonamsa has pride that it was the first to publish the “Law Book” in Korea, which is a pillar that sustains national strength, and that it has never stopped publishing over 60 years.

 

What books would you like to recommend to our readers?

 

Well, as it is hard to choose a few books as we’ve been publishing so many fine books, we would like to pick some of the recently published books that were impressive to us. The first one is Seoul Solutions, written by professor Kim Sung-Hong of the Department of Architecture at the University of Seoul. This is the last volume of the “City Architecture” series consisting of three volumes. It talks about the definition of “good architecture” and the urban planning and architectural issues Seoul has while suggesting a solution to resolve them in a proper way.
The second book is Classic Music of the Day by Cho Hyun-Young. Hyeonamsa has been steadily publishing books about classical music. This book is particularly for readers who have just begun having an interest in the classics. As we listen to music that suits our momentary mood, weather, and situation, this book is a kind guide to choosing a piece of music that goes well with your daily mood.
Third is An Actor Under the Stage, which is a comic we have been trying out from time to time recently. Just as the title implies, it is about the energetic stories of writer Yoon Soo-Hoon, who never stops going forward with his dream of becoming an actor. As we look at the episodes he experienced in the course of preparing for performances, we get to realize that even though we may not have achieved a dream, the time, efforts, and passion we put into that dream would remain as a shining memory.

 

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Seoul Solutions, Classic Music of the Day, An Actor Under the Stage

 

 

 

Keeping the core as we publish books to communicatewith the new generation takes much more effort and consideration.

 

 

Please share with us how you feel about the path Hyeonamsa has been walking on for more than 70 years.

 

Well, the current staff members of Hyeonamsa are not from around 1945 when the publisher was established, but are like the juniors walking in the footsteps of those who led Hyeonamsa before us. So, it would be nearly impossible for us to dare talk about how we feel about the past 70 years of history, as we have not, nor can we, fully experience those times. Instead, as we work in a company more than 70 years old, we get to think that it is never an easy thing to stay devoted to one area for such a long period of time. Also, while being a relatively old company, keeping its core while publishing books to communicate with the new generation in this rapidly changing era seems to take more effort and struggles.
So, we feel more responsible for the future.

 

What are the future plans of Hyeonamsa?

 

Hyeonamsa marks its 76th anniversary in 2021. We hope to continue walking on this path for the next 100 years and beyond. Rather than “getting old” over time without putting in extra efforts, we would like to be a publisher that communicates with the new generation and keeps to the core as a “true grownup.”

 

 

Website http://www.hyeonamsa.com
Naver Blog https://blog.naver.com/hyeonamsa
Post https://post.naver.com/hyeonamsa
Instagram, Facebook, Twitter @hyeonamsa

 

 


Organized by Lee Ji-Hyeon

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