Current status of each field in the Korean publishing market
④ Social Science Publications
The 1980s were the golden age for social science publications in the Korean publishing industry. Under the ruling of the new military dictatorship, it was social science books and their readers that took the lead in the overall social transformation through intense democratic and labor movements. The books were the texts of social movement and transformation. Bookstores specialized in social science books, though most of them cannot be found today, thrived next to colleges across the nation. With the “announcement of democratization” in 1987, Seoul Olympics in 1988, and the establishment of a civilian government in 1993, Korea has been pursuing cultural diversity amidst the paradigm shifts of political democratization, globalization, and becoming an information society, positioning itself as a responsible member of the international community. Social science publication is one of the publication fields that best show the present days of Korea and the awareness of Korean people.
Social Science Publication Status
Social science publications are broadly divided into “politics/society” and “economics/business administration.” The former category is subdivided into statistics, sociology, social welfare studies, politics, diplomacy, public administration, law, pedagogy, folklore, and military science. The latter category includes economics and business administration theory, distribution, marketing, and trade. The characteristics of the books can be divided into college textbooks, scientific books, and liberal arts books.
Hot “politics/society” books
A Good Discriminator, Strange Normal Family, Generation of Inequality
The keywords in the Korean social science publishing market in 2019 were “discrimination and hatred”, “inequality”, “generation”, and “wealth.” In terms of the “politics/society” category, A Good Discriminator (Changbi Publishers) by Kim Ji-Hye who called for an improvement of awareness to discrimination and hatred in our daily life and When Speech becomes a Sword (Across) by Hong Sung-Soo who organized social phenomenons related to hate expressions drew the greatest attention. Meanwhile, Strange Normal Family (Dongasia Books) by Kim Hee-Kyung that has been steadily popular since its publication in 2017 criticizes the outdated family ideology that only regards a specific family structure to be normal.
Anti-Japan Tribalism, Japanese Imperialist Tribalism, Neo Pro-Japanese: Uncovering the Truth of “Anti-Japan Tribalism”
A change in the landscape of the Korean publishing industry is that publishers producing conservative books increased and those books are actually becoming bestsellers. Examples are: Anti-Japan Tribalism (Miraesa) by Lee Young-Hoon and others, Impeachment Inside Out (Guiparang) by Chae Myung-Sung which is a record of impeachment trials of former president Park Geun-Hye, The Road to Serfdom (Center for Free Enterprise) by Friedrich Hayek, Korea, Dominated by the Left (Hover Lab Co.) by Kim Se-Ui which is a commemorative edition for the 50th anniversary, Why are People Enthusiastic about Leftist Thinking (Gong Institute) by Gong Byeong-Ho, Password of the Third Floor Secretary Room (Guiparang), a testimony on North Korea by Tae Young-Ho, a defector diplomat (former North Korean minister to the UK), and What am I Fighting For (Think Smart) by Lee Un-Ju, a member of the assembly that called for the “innovation of the conservatives.”
Hot “economics/business administration” books
My Salary Independence Project, Super Gap, State of the Future
The biggest hit during the past two years in “economics/business administration” was People Born in the 90s are Coming (Whale Books) by Lim Hong-Taek. Being a guide book for understanding the millennials born in the 1990s, it drew greater attention after president Moon Jae-In presented the book to all the members in Cheongwadae (Blue House). The book resulted in the “Learning the New Generation” boom along with various statistics, case studies, and interviews.
Most of the readers of “economics/business administration” books likely desire to be “rich.” It is perhaps the biggest common denominator of the human species. Examples can be found in the bestsellers’ list in 2019 as follows: the 20th-anniversary special edition (first printed in 2000, revised edition published in 2018) of Rich Dad Poor Dad (Minumsa) by Robert T. Kiyosaki which 3.5 million copies were sold in Korea as the new classic for investment techniques, The Millionaire Fastlane (Thoth) by MJ DeMarco, Dollars and Sense (Chungrim Publishing Co.) that features decision-making process on money from the viewpoint of a behavioral economist, Start Now, Get Perfect Later (Dasan Books) by Rob Moore, Principles (Hanbit Biz. Inc.) by Ray Dalio, the godfather of hedge funds, This is Marketing (Sam & Parkers) by Seth Gordin, the marketing guru, and Extreme Ownership (Maven) by Jocko Willink on how US Navy Seals, the strongest special force in the world, win the war.
Phono Sapiens, Shrinking Society, Perspective Insights: Inequality, Pathology, Finance, Finance, and Regions
For liberal arts books, Phono Sapiens (Sam & Parkers) by Choi Jae-Boong who analyzed the opportunities we can seize in the civilization created by smartphones as an engineer and a model designer, Shrinking Society (Medici Media) by analyst Hong Sung-Guk on survival in the low-growth era, Perspective Insights: Inequality, Pathology, Finance, and Regions (Influential) by the Perspective Insights crew of KBS are worth paying attention to. Perspective Insights was made into a book with the same title of a TV program which was appraised for its quality since it was first broadcast in 2015 to examine the flow of changes Korea and the global community are facing and to suggest visions for the future. This TV program is run in a unique style by linking documentaries that analyzed cases from in and out of Korea and lectures of renowned speakers; the whole content was adapted into 4 series of books. The notable point was the suggested value of coexistence and symbiosis of humanity for the future.
Many Korean publishers produce social science books. Amongst them, influential publishers in the field of “politics/society” are Pakyoungsa, Bobmunsa, Hanul M+, Hakjisa, Nanam, and Communication Books that publish scientific books and college textbooks. Also, among general liberal arts book publishers that recently showed good performance are Bookie and Kim & Kim Books which are especially strong in translated books, progressive publishers Changbi and Dolbegae, and conservative publishers Guiparang and Miraesa. Publishers that are focusing on “economics/business administration” are Business Books, Dasan Books, Book 21, Sam & Parkers, Hankyung BP, MK Book, Chungrim Publishing Co., Miraebook, Influential, Hanbit Biz. Inc., and Gilbut.
Written by Baek Won-Keun (President of Books & Society Research Institute)
Baek Won-Keun (President of Books & Society Research Institute)