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Korean Publishers


Woongjin ThinkBig

Publishing Spectrum Expanding with High-Quality Content




In every social aspect, we talk about role theory. Faithfully fulfilling a role appropriate for each position positively impacts society as a whole or the entire field, and will inevitably be exerted as a power to seek opportunities to grow together. Woongjin ThinkBig's Book Business Headquarters, which plays a leading role as a genuine general publishing house, has published books of various kinds throughout a long history. Furthermore, in the rapidly changing publishing market, new businesses that can chart a plan for the future are expanding. Following is an interview with Woongjin ThinkBig's Book Business Headquarters, which is actively responding to the development of new markets in the publishing industry by publishing books that meet the needs of the times and expanding the scope of the publishing market.



Logo of Woongjin ThinkBig



Please introduce Woongjin Thinkbig to people in the overseas publishing market.


The Woongjin ThinkBig Book Business Headquarters in charge of publishing books is a brand of Woongjin ThinkBig, an education leader in Korea. Woongjin ThinkBig is an education company established in 1980, which since then has been publishing numerous books and bestsellers in all fields, including humanities, business, self-help, science, non-fiction, literature, practical books, and junior books.


Woongjin ThinkBig has published books of various genres ranging from those for children to adults. So, it is presumed that there is a certain direction or set of values that Woongjin ThinkBig pursues from the planning stage. Can you tell us more about this?


As Woongjin ThinkBig’s Book Business Headquarters belongs to Woongjin ThinkBig, an education company, we prioritize whether the book includes rightful values. Also, as “publishing” is a business that spreads ideas valuable enough to be engraved in history through books, we pursue to publish valuable books that the readers can take as a medium to look into our lives and the world. Woongjin ThinkBig aims to spread ideas that right-minded people can share, rather than static knowledge stuck in thesis papers or laboratories.



Woongjin ThinkBig’s Book Business Headquarters will never stop attempting
to capture the new desires of readers by always seeking new authors and new media.



Woongjin ThinkBig has been communicating with readers through various publications for a long time, enough to call itself “the publisher that meets the most readers.” So, what was the potential and competitiveness that enabled Woongjin ThinkBig to maintain its position as a leading publishing company in Korea for such a long time?


It’s “breathing with the times” and “perseverance towards content.” One of our early bestsellers – Children’s Village – received a quite positive response in the children's book market, which was then dominated by foreign translations, with its high-quality content depicting the children as they are. Woongjin ThinkBig’s Book Business Headquarters also tries not to miss the needs of readers living in this era and strives to meet those needs with the best content.





Representative brands of Woongjin ThinkBig – Woongjin Junior (left), Woongjin Jisik House (center), and Leader’s Book (right)



Woongjin ThinkBig has a variety of brands specialized for each genre in the publishing industry. What is the reason for this branding strategy, and what are the characteristics of each brand?


Woongjin ThinkBig introduced the “imprint system” in 2005 for the first time in Korea. This was to ensure various projects for editors, while integrating systematic management and advanced marketing strategies. In the process, over 30 imprints were born. Representative brands are Woongjin Junior, which publishes children’s books; Woongjin Jisik House which mainly publishes books on humanities, society, and science, and Leader’s Book, which mainly publishes business books; and Penguin Classics Korea that is a sole publisher of the Penguin Classics.


As one of the largest publishing houses in Korea, Woongjin ThinkBig publishes various kinds of books, and there are many books to be proud of. So, what are the three most popular books?


To pick three, they would be Seven Tech (Kim Mi-Kyung and 7 others) which kindly introduces 7 cutting-edge technologies from A.I. to the metaverse, Youth’s Reading (Rhyu Si-Min) which is composed of stories about classics that were like a beacon in the early wandering days in life such as Crime and Punishment and What is History?, and Greek and Roman Mythology (all 5 volumes) which we can proudly say surpasses the works of Thomas Bulfinch.





Seven Tech, Youth’s Reading, and Korean History in Reverse



Greek and Roman Mythology



What books would you recommend to our overseas readers?


We would like to recommend Korean History in Reversal, written by Ahn Jung-Jun, which came out recently. The world these days is in a complex conflict structure, as can be seen in the Russia-Ukraine war and the US-China conflict, to name a couple. The Korean History in Reversal is a cultural history book that collects and unravels very interesting and ironic events in the history of ancient China and the ancient Korean Peninsula. It's a series of humorous and bizarre events, making it hard to believe that a university professor wrote it. By reading this book, you will understand that there are no permanent enemies or permanent friends in diplomacy between nations, and the butterfly effect caused by a leader's wrong decisions can lead to catastrophe. We think this book is a must-read for all leaders around the world. (laughs)


It is known that Woongjin ThinkBig is also active in developing overseas markets. What books have been particularly successful in terms of overseas response and evaluations?


I Almost Lived Diligently by Hawann, which was the best of bestsellers in Korea in 2018, was exported to Japan with a high down payment, which later became the hottest ticket in Japan, selling over 100 thousand copies. It was particularly meaningful for us as, at that time, Japanese people had just begun taking an interest in Korea.


* K-Book Trends Vol. 36 – Successful export case of I Almost Lived Diligently by a Japanese publisher


Another surprising thing was that My Salary Independent Project (Nomad), which was published in 2019 and ranked first in the domestic stock category, was exported to Taiwan and became a bestseller in the financial sector. It was a rare case for a Korean book to succeed in Taiwan, as the stock market environment is quite different in the two countries.




I Almost Lived Diligently and My Salary Independent Project



As Woongjin ThinkBig has a variety of platforms for publishing, it is presumed that it will be able to make more diverse attempts in overseas markets in the future. If there is a strategy or competitive edge that differentiates you from other publishers, what would it be?


There is a separate team called the Content Business Team that publishes web-novels and webtoons within our book business headquarters. It currently consists of 12 people and is growing rapidly. It is rare for a Korean book publisher to engage in both web-novel and webtoon businesses at the same time other than just focusing on the e-book business. We are also exporting web-novel and webtoon content overseas through this team. Currently, Woongjin ThinkBig’s Book Business Headquarters has strengths in children's books and adult non-fiction, but it is weak in literature, to be honest. In the future, we plan to overcome weaknesses in the literature field and actively advance into overseas markets through our web-novel and webtoon business.


Even if it is a trend that publishers take different forms and styles, there must be a path and a role for large publishers so that others can follow. So, we look forward to Woongjin ThinkBig's future, which has built a long history in books of various genres. Please tell us about the publisher’s future plans and vision as a large publisher.


As mentioned earlier, our short-term goal is to solidify our position as a leading general publishing company in name and reality by succeeding in the web-novel and webtoon business that can be called today's popular literature. Woongjin ThinkBig is currently the overwhelming leader in Korea's attempt to combine IT with education. Striving to mirror the mother company’s innovation, our book business division will not stop trying to capture the new desires of readers by always finding new authors and new media. We believe that it is the duty and joy of a large publisher to try bold media experiments that are difficult for small publishers to make.




#Woongjin ThinkBig#imprint system#Platform#Content
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