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2018 Seoul International Book Fair ‘New Definition’

Expand Your Thinking and World Through Books

 

2018.07.31

 

 

 

The annual Seoul International Book Fair, now in its 24th year, was held for five days from June 20 to 24 at COEX, Seoul with the theme ‘New Definition’. At the fair’s local exhibitions 234 companies participated, while in the international booths 91 companies from 32 countries including France, the United States, Japan and China took part in the festivities. The guest country of honor for this year’s fair was the Czech Republic. In line with the theme ‘New Definition’, there was a variety of seminars, conferences, special programs, events and exhibits. Just inside the fair venue were shelves of books, unique booths, events and lectures by famous participants that caught your eye. There were many different programs to satiate all kinds of book lovers at the Seoul International Book Fair. This piece delves into this year’s book fair that aimed to shed seriousness, centering around ‘the light novel festival’ and a special book fair inside the main book fair called ‘Summer, First Book’ that saw the most popularity over the five days.

 

 

Special book fair ‘Summer, First Book’

 

At this year’s book fair and its special programs, one called ‘Summer, First Book’ was the first of its kind, introducing ten new releases: Rhyu Si-min’sHistory of History (Dolbegae), Kim In-sook’sJust One Eternal Night (Munhakdongne) and Lee Yeong-do’sOver the Choice (Golden Bough). Visitors were able to meet the authors of the releases at their respective publishers’ booths. Among these, a long queue formed at the autograph event for acclaimed fantasy writer Lee Yeong-do and his first book in a decade. Rhyu Si-min, who was unable to hold an autograph event due to time and space restraints, participated in a session where fans snapped photos with the author. Fans lined up to grab numbered tickets for the chance to meet Rhyu and many succeeded in meeting the author.
Kim In-sook, recipient of many literary awards like the Yi Sang literary award, Hyundae literary award, Hwang Sun-won literary award and Dongin literary award, also saw many fans lining up to get their books autographed, seeming to reflect their avid interest in Korean literature. In addition to these authors’ books, Kim Tak-hwan’sThis Aloof Love (Bookspear), Lee Seung-woo’sTears to Hold Back Created Tears (Maumsanchaek), Choi Min-seok’sWith Ponderings and Novels: I Pretended to Write Without Care, but Actually These Are Actually Thorough Answers (Bichae), Choi Ki-hong’sWhen You Are in Pain But Cannot Say So: Facing Your Emotions (Saheopyoungron), Kwak Ah-ram’sI Eventually Did Not Become a New Yorker (Art Books), Jeong You-jeong and Ji Seung-ho’sJeong You-jeong Tells Stories About Stories (Eunhaengnamu) andThe Right to Have Better Debates (Humanist) by Kim Eun-sil and others were available at this special book fair.

 

 

Korean Literature, Meeting With Authors

 

While the Seoul International Book Fair was ongoing, young Korean authors currently leading Korean literature like Kim Geum-hee, Jeong You-jeong, Ku Byung-mo, Cho Nam-joo and Chang Kang-myung held autograph sessions at their publishers’ booths and met their fans. In addition to the autographing events at the special ‘Summer, First Book’ event, the weekend these young Korean novelists held their autographing sessions saw crowds milling into the book fair venue, packing the space with readers anxious to meet their favorite writers.

 

 

Main conference: Books, Humans and Future

 

The main conference of the Seoul International Book Fair called ‘Books, Humans and Future’ related to the fair’s theme ‘new definition’ addressed the question: ‘If artificial intelligence learns and writes in the near future, how will the relationship between books and humans change?’ It was a chance for participants to hear diverse opinions on how books are affected in a day and age where things are changing swiftly. More than 100 people flocked to the conference that had sociologist Lee Jin-kyung, physicist Kim Sang-wook and author and culture critic Jeong Yeo-wool on the panel. Yonsei University professor Lee Sang-gil moderated the event. The following are key points from the panelists for those who were unable to enjoy the conference in person.

 

“The future and past of books, for unreadable books”

Sociologist Lee Jin-kyung offered a philosophical look into books with the theme “the future and past of books, for unreadable books”. There are many outlooks that in the future, the publishing industry will suffer, but Lee countered those opinions saying there will always be people who wish to deliver secrets through books and those who seek to crack them. Lee stressed in the future reading books will carry an important meaning.

 

“Where did books come from and where are they going?”

Physicist Kim Sang-wook gave a historical presentation called, “Where did books come from and where are they going?”, explaining in order to know the future of books, one must know the past of books. One cannot know the exact future of books, but books do not exist as simple records of time. Kim said one must think deeply about what the relationship is between man and books, what humans gain from books and what books sell.

 

“Paper books, electronic books and audio books - for their creative co-existence”

Lastly, writer Jeong Yeo-wool gave a speech called “Paper books, electronic books and audio books - for their creative co-existence”. Physical difficulties presented by paper books can be overcome with electronic books and audio books, Jeong explained, while the advancement of electronic books and audio books does not equal a crisis for paper books. Rather, Jeong added, paper books can co-exist in the digital age because of its analog aspect.

 

 

International conference - Copyright in the Digital Age: the Rights of Authors and Publishers

 

At this year’s book fair and its international programs was a conference called ‘International conference - Copyright in the Digital Age: the Rights of Authors and Publishers’. With the arrival of the digital society, the creations of writers can go in hand with the expansion of media and be applied to a number of different media while also being used in various cultural art genres. This makes it easier for readers to approach while at the same time, protect the rights and profits of the original copyright owners and prevent illegal copying. The system in which payments to use this content has become pluralized and complicated. Regarding this, several copyright professionals working outside of South Korea were invited to the conference regarding copyright in a digital age. Kim Myung-hwan, director of the Policy Research Institute of Korean Publishers Association moderated the event. This conference too, is summarized below for those who missed the event in person.

 

“The good, the bad and the ugly world copyright trends”

Jose Borghino, secretary general of the International Publishers Association, summarized global copyright trends into three categories - the good, the bad and the ugly. Good trends were strong and stable copyright laws, copyright infrastructure with a sturdy base and government intervention, he said. Non-government organizations against copyrights fell into the ‘bad’ category, while attempts to debate copyright for the public that create negative results would go into the ‘ugly’ category. Actions to funnel away public funds by changing copyright laws and other unfair practices also fall into the ‘ugly’ category, according to Borghino.

 

“The publishing industry’s cultural, economic value”

Caroline Morgan, CEO of the International Federation of Reproduction Rights of Organizations, introduced the audience to the cultural and economic value the publishing industry carries and expressed her regret over copyright infringements by some schools, libraries, companies and governments. She went on the stress strong regulations against copyright infringements and legal means to obtain publication rights could only drive a country’s publishing industry further and create new content.

 

“Copyright and policies focusing on copyright management”

Sarah Faulder, CEO of the Publishers Licensing Service in the UK, gave detailed examples from where she is currently based to explain copyright and policies that focus on copyright management. Copyright laws in the United Kingdom, their past, their present, the works that are currently under the protection of those copyright laws, the duration of that protection, exclusive copyright rights, actions that do not fall under copyright law infringement and key roles of bodies responsible for managing copyright for publishers were all addressed by Faulder. She also told the audience of a number of policies that could be used in South Korea for local authors and publishers while offering detailed example cases.

 

Special Exhibition: The Light Novel Festival

 

The ‘Light Novel Festival,’ which marked its third anniversary this year through the Seoul International Book Fair, provided a special experience for visitors to see with their own eyes the expansion of genres brought about by the growth of the light novel market, which previously was thought of as an inferior culture of sorts. Autograph events by famous Japanese light novel authors and illustrators saw many people participating. Limited edition publications that could only be obtained at this year’s books fair and character items, original artwork exhibitions were all on display, making it a delight for light novel fans from all over.

 

 

Aside these, there was the international booth corner where a variety of books and magazines created outside South Korea could be seen as well as an audio booth where books could be read on tablet PCs. A special exhibition on magazines called ‘the age of magazines’ was also available as well as a book goods event, a booth where one-person publishing applications could promote themselves, an inter-Korean booth where passersby could compare words used in North and South Korea, a ‘reading pharmacy’ program where readers would be recommended books were all at the book fair and became hits with visitors. Thanks to the events’ popularity, a record number of visitors came to the book fair and more details on the fair, which is now concluded, can be seen on the fair’s official website.

 

2018 Seoul International Book Fair official website

link www.sibf.or.kr

 

 


Written by Lee Jung-hwa

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Lee Jung-hwa

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