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Engraving the meaning of historical record upon the mind




Yuksabipyoungsa is an unrivaled publisher specialized in history in Korea. Established in 1987 with a “bookazine” Critical Review of History, it has been devoted to publishing content on Korean history for more than 30 years. From the glorious days to heart-numbing moments, the publisher has been producing rough but calmly written history works. Following is the interview with Yuksabipyoungsa, who honestly talks about our yesterday, today, and tomorrow.


Logo of Yuksabipyoungsa

Logo of Yuksabipyoungsa


Please introduce us about Yuksabipyoungsa.


“Yuksabipyoungsa pursues building a live history in harmony with the changing society.”
History is the result of the accumulated life of diverse human beings. Making today better than the past and opening an even better future begins from looking back to our history. Studying history is not just aboutlooking back though; it is to take a critical perspective towards the world and make interpretations.
Taking the first step with its integrated quarterly journal Critical Review of History in September 1987, Yuksabipyoungsa has published about 400 titles that feature critical awareness towards social and historical issues, and will continue to be this way for the better development of history. We are making books about pre-modern and modern history and also liberal arts books that cover various contents in diverse formats. The founding purpose of Yuksabipyoungsa was to serve as a medium for sharing history with the civil society which was deemed to be reserved for researchers in the late 1980s when the Korean society had just overcome military dictatorship, was rapidly developing and was pursuing democratization. We believe that it is our duty to invite citizens to the discussion table they have set up.



Yuksabipyoungsa pursues the publishing of books for better historical development.



Please introduce our readers of K-Book Trends the representative works of Yuksabipyoungsa.


We would like to recommend the Korean History in the 20th Century series composed of 10 volumes. It is a popular liberal arts series that talks about the period beginning from when Korea first opened its port to foreign countries, to the democratic movement in 1987 by topics and generations. Based on the opinions of the most authoritative experts and materials in each field, the series about modern and contemporary history takes the most objective standpoint with no political bias at all.
Also, Take a walk in ancient Korean history deserves to be read as well. While the medieval times have several historical records, the ancient history lacks historical documents to an extent that it is almost like “making up” when carrying out research; this inevitably leads to distortions and arbitrary interpretations, which have even provoked debates on nationalism. The Take a walk in ancient Korean history is a series for beginners that correct such questions and distorted facts about the ancient history in a QnA format.
There’s another book we would like to recommend, which is Reading Korean History by Argument. It is composed of two volumes: “pre-modern history” and “modern and contemporary history.” Just as you can infer from the title, the series takes a look at milestone discussions or major topics that academia could not reach consensus on in Korean history, and touches upon what kind of historic views and ideas have been changing the horizon of historical perception for the past century as they clashed and supported one another. As such, the series shows readers that history is never fixed for good but is a dynamic organism where parts are sometimes removed with colliding perceptions through the historic timeline of discussions.


<Korean History in the 20th Century>

<Take a walk in ancient Korean history>

<Reading Korean History by Argument>

Korean History in the 20th Century, Take a walk in ancient Korean history, Reading Korean History by Argument


Are works of Yuksabipyoungsa popular in other countries too?


Yuksabipyoungsa is specialized in Korean history. From the viewpoint of world history, Korean history takes a small part in the overall Eastern history, which therefore lacks attention or in-depth research across the world. Also, as history is generally interpreted and described country-centered, if each country’s history does not work in mesh with that of neighboring countries, then it loses universality. Therefore, unlike creative works like literature, the historic content of a certain country has no means but has limits in exporting copyright. However, the number of people majoring in Korean is increasing in East Asian countries like Japan and China, and also in the US, and more Korean residents abroad are finding their identity, and people are paying more attention to Korean history.


Which books did Yuksabipyoungsa export?


The first example would be The Origins Of The Korean War by prominent scholar and expert on the Korean peninsula, Bruce Cumings. It is surely a masterpiece book covering the Korean War. While it is a 1,600-page-long book first printed by Princeton University, its publication was banned in Korea for ideological reasons regardless of being appraised as the most accurate and authoritative research book, which made people sell a pirated translation of the book. Currently, the copyright for the English version is owned by Yuksabipyoungsa, and the English edition sold across the world including on Amazon is also published by the company. In China, the translated edition of How Did We Live the Past Century (百年韓囯-生活与文化) covering the 100-year modern and contemporary history of Korea is published, while Raiding the Cholera Joseon (コレラ、朝鮮を襲う-身体と医学の朝鮮史), Liberation Movement and Towards Unification (朝鮮民族解放運動の歴史-平和的統一への模索), and Leaving Joseon (朝鮮引揚げと日本人-加害と被害の記憶を超えて) are translated and published in Japan.


<Leaving Joseon>, <The Origins Of The Korean War>

<Leaving Joseon>, <The Origins Of The Korean War>

Leaving Joseon, The Origins Of The Korean War




Trustworthy contents are like life for a history-specialized publisher.



What is the standard and value of Yuksabipyoungsa when it comes to choosing an author or a work?


The first thing we take into consideration when selecting an author or work is the “specialty” of the author and “freshness” of the topic. We don’t call people writing history books an “author.” It is because history description is not a realm of creativity that relies on imagination. Imagination, in this field, is an element with the minimum influence that supplements the missing gap between historic materials with reasonable inference. So we are not looking for someone with a diploma, but someone that has done a sufficient amount of research and study based on our own standard. How well the writer describes this professional field comes next. Then we would be able to maintain readers’ trust for our contents as trust is like life for a history-specialized publisher like us.


Quarterly <Critical Review of History> 129

Quarterly <Critical Review of History> 127

Quarterly Critical Review of History


This year is the 30th anniversary of the quarterly journal Critical Review of History. How do you feel, looking back the past 30 years?


The quarterly journal Critical Review of History is a journal published by the Institute for Korean Historical Studies first published in 1987 by various critical intellectuals who agreed for the necessity of history education as Korea was undergoing democratization. If we count from the prep volume published in 1988, this is the 32nd year. The journal contributed to expanding the influence of historical studies into the public through active exchange with the public. Today, professional researchers across fields of Korean history, Western history, and Eastern history are carrying out editing meetings each month as an editing committee together with our publishers; not only profound thesis papers on history but also essays and critics are added to the journal as well.
In the course of the reforming process of Korean society, multiple new magazines and academic journals were born and faded away. Literally, no-one would hardly expect that Critical Review of History will continue publishing until today without a single month missing, as it is a non-commercial journal run by voluntary donation of scholars and support from the civil society. The young intellectuals that were the founding members of the journal are playing a central role in society and the country. By the nature of history, their descendants have taken the baton, overcoming their predecessors’ limitations and working for the betterment of our history that breathes with the public.


Could you please tell us the future plans of Yuksabipyoungsa?


History is never fixed. It changes, develops, and deepens with ceaseless research and discussions. Even though Yuksabipyoungsa was established a century ago, we will present outcomes of new historical studies with such nature of history in mind. We may lack a bit of color compared to big publishers or newly established modern and sensitive publishers, but we pursue making sincere history books that do not distort the flavor of their materials. Our principle to make books that readers can have trust in and undoubtedly digest the content, albeit criticizing will stay firm with time and changing generations.


Website www.yukbi.com
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Organized by Lee Ji-Hyeon


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