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Hyang Publishing House

Picture Books with Colorful Scents

 

2021.01.04

 

 

 

Hyang Publishing House is a one-person publisher that opened in October last year. It has published 11 picture books up to date, and their achievements are jaw-dropping coming from a new-born publisher. The creative workshop for picture books “Picture Book Hyang” run by the publisher’s leader has given birth to numerous outstanding talents who have gone on to win the Bologna Ragazzi Award each year. Hyang Publishing House takes a new perspective towards the world and chooses authors and works by discovering new writers with unique artistic talents. Following is an interview with Kim Hyang-Soo, the head of Hyang, which boasts high-quality picture books published with rather picky standards.

 

Please introduce Hyang to our readers.

 

As a former head of Picture Book Hyang, I have been publishing picture books ever since I set up Hyang Publishing House in October 2019. We have a total of 11 picture books published today. Hyang was established to set forth as a publisher capable of verifying the numerous experiments Picture Book Hyang had been making. This is why many of the titles of Picture Book Hyang are quite unfamiliar to readers. As such, I am experimenting with new and creative picture books. Also, I am focusing on fostering new authors. Experienced and professional authors are reluctant to pursue an experimental spirit, but new authors are different. They are ready to take on challenges. Among the 11 picture books we have published, 7 of them were financially supported by the government’s publication support organization after being chosen as excellent publishing content. I believe that all these accomplishments were possible as they brought out our challenging spirit. Now, I would like to introduce 11 picture books that we have published during the past year.

 

From top left: What is happening?, Rice, Rice, Rice, My own guitar, Alice In The Land Of Tricks
From center left: A guy with long arms, Come out, Blue!, I can dry anything!,
A Caterpillar Who Experiences Rain for the First Time and a Ladybug Who Has Experienced Rain Once
From bottom left: Gum, The secret of the silk factory, Going to the Dental Clinic

 

Pleases introduce us to Picture Book Hyang, a company that has won multiple awards up to date.

 

Picture Book Hyang is a creative workshop of authors. Since 2013, about 80 new picture book writers and more than 100 picture books from the workshop have been produced through various publishers. In particular, from 2013 to 2019, I, the head of Picture Book Hyang and editor, and Publisher Kinderland (Bandal) have published 50 new and unfamiliar picture books through close cooperation.

Picture Book Hyang is like a “picture book school” to creative picture book writers. The biggest characteristic of its course is that it makes picture books by “writing” pictures. So, it’s not that you write the story first and then add pictures to it – you draw the pictures first and choose to add texts to them or not. This might be quite a new concept to you. The reason why I began to study “writing” pictures is that many writers were obsessed with the stereotype that picture books are storybooks, making it more difficult for them to hold their pens. So, by adopting the “writing pictures” strategy, authors can approach picture books looking at them as a formative language, and therefore texts become an option or a supplementary means. Text can be totally omitted from the book.
This allows picture book writers to break free from the box and expand the realm for picture books and readers. Also, it helped Picture Book Hyang to publish more than 100 new picture books and win in four major contests in Korea; its four books won the Bologna Ragazzi Award, and fifteen illustrators were chosen as the illustrator of the year in the Bologna Illustrators Exhibition.

 

What is the standard or values that you take into consideration when choosing writers or works?

 

Hyang Publishing House mainly publishes picture books made by new authors cultivated in Picture Book Hyang. Among the member artists, we especially choose works of those who have a fresh perspective towards the world or show a unique art world of their own. It is because we want picture books to be enjoyed by all generations no matter kids or adults, as they mainly consist of pictures and images, and we want them to be full of exclusive artistic values.

 

 

Hyang Publishing House is seeking to walk another new path.

 

 

Hyang Publishing House became one year old two months ago. How do you feel about the past year?

 

I have published a total of 11 books during the past year. They are all new authors’ books. As I have been working as a picture book editor and director, I realized that there are too few picture book writers in Korea compared to Europe, the US, or Japan. So, I thought a lot about how to foster new picture book writers and make cool but yet unfamiliar picture books to be commonly found in bookstores. Fifteen years have passed, and now the picture book market in Korea has grown exponentially, publishing picture books with quality as good as people around the world would envy. The number of writers has increased, not to mention the publishers. At this moment, Hyang Publishing House is mulling over the next new path to walk on.
It might be a bumpy road, but based on my experience, I will definitely find a breakthrough. So, please look forward to it.

 

Please recommend us three representative books of Hyang Publishing House.

 

1) Rice Rice Rice, written by Bamko
This book consists of easy puns, but it provides an in-depth impression that lingers after you finish it. This impression comes from the book’s format, where typography was used to simplify images. Then, the second wave of impression comes from how differently the author has described the beginning and end of farming.
2) I can dry anything!, written by Namsum
This book is about a commonly found drying rack. It has turned a small and trivial source found in daily life into a very entertaining but simple to read story. It does not take long for a drying rack, which is made to dry laundry, to transform into a rack that dries emotions.
3) The secret of the silk factory, written by Kim Yoo-Jin
This book is filled with power that makes you have a whole different view of the world. You won’t be able to think that roses bloom in summer just because the season has come around again after reading the book. Akin to a graphic novel, this book offers imaginative pictures of nature’s magic along with poems full of metaphors and symbols.

 

Rice, Rice, Rice

I can dry anything!

The secret of the silk factory

Rice, Rice, Rice, I can dry anything!, The secret of the silk factory

 

 

No matter how many times you read the same picture book,
you’ll experience different worlds each time.

 

 

Is there a reason for choosing “picture books” among other genres, and what do you think is the power of picture books?

 

I think that it is the picture books that chose me, not that I chose to write them. I couldn’t read a picture book when I was young. I read children’s books. I got to learn about their existence when I became an editor. When I opened a picture book then, a mysterious, amazing world that I have never seen unfolded before my eyes. And I got swirled into it. I really didn’t want to fall in love with them. It must be a little prank that picture books are playing on me. (Laughs)
I think the power of picture books is that they are “easy.” They are easy to read and easy to look at. You can read it repeatedly, like tens or hundreds of times, but you’ll never get bored. They would just open you a whole new world every time you flip over the first page. Picture books can become a theater stage, a film, a poem collection, and a novel. Also, it is perfect for photo collections. So, what should I say? There is no way out.

 

What kind of publisher does Hyang Publishing House want to become, and what are your future plans?

 

Hyang Publishing House will continue to make “delicious” picture books with new authors. No matter how many of them you enjoy, we will be steadily serving you with “new-flavored” picture books.
And from 2021, we are planning to expand our field to liberal arts, art, and childcare.

 

 


Organized by Lee Ji-Hyeon

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