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Publishing Educational Materials for 40 Years “Darakwon”

Bringing foreign languages to South Koreaand taking Korean to the world

 

2017.9.11

 

"Let's develop educational materials necessary for foreign language skill improvement!" Following its establishment in 1977, Darakwon has conducted its business with this motto in mind. Quickly rising among the country's foreign language learning material publishers, Darakwon also exports educational materials for learning Korean abroad. A closer look at the publisher follows, with details on how it is expanding its influence globally.

 

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Darakwon is a medium-sized publisher that has put together and published roughly 2,000 books on learning languages. The materials it offers is diverse and languages offered include English, Japanese, Chinese, German, Arabic and Vietnamese. Also in step with the changing times, Darakwon has also development educational programs using multimedia and currently has around 200 web-based educational programs. In South Korea, it is not difficult to meet someone who has experienced Darakwon's textbooks and learning materials for foreign languages.
The publisher has also been focusing on expanding its business outside South Korea. Armed with its experience in creating educational books, Darakwon has continued its efforts in exporting materials on learning Korean. The number of foreigners who wish to learn Korean has been on the rise, thanks to a surge in the popularity of Korean culture around the globe. Some universities now require a Korean efficiency test score for entry.
Suk-hee Lee, who heads the Korean publishing department at the company has seen Darakwon's Korean educational program from the beginning since she joined the company in June 2005. Lee is currently responsible for hands-on work involving planning, editing and exporting Korean learning materials. Until now, the company has published roughly 150 such books. The following is a Q&A with Lee.

 

 

Q

 

The offshore market for educational goods is also quite large. Can you tell us about Darakwon's story so far on taking your learning materials out of the country?

 

Since I started working here, we succeeded in winning 120 export contracts for Korean books. Of course among these, we've seen renewed contracts and had books sell to a number of different countries. Ten years ago we even saw Chinese publishers lining up to buy our books to learn Korean, and our sales also saw a boost from demand in Japan.
We've also been actively participating in book fairs worldwide, including the one in Frankfurt, Germany to introduce our learning materials to foreign readers. The response has been very positive so far; we even have fans of our books who come visit us whenever we set up booths. It was the same at the book fair in Tokyo last year and at the Indonesia book fair we had a booth at in 2015. Thanks to the 2015 book fair, we were able to establish a relationship with publishing group Gramedia Pustaka Utama and exported several publications through them. When looking at our export achievements, there has been firm demand from Taiwan, Indonesia and Vietnam. Also, we have been actively selling educational materials in Germany and France by translating the materials in their respective languages.

 

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Of our books, our Korean Made Easy and Korean Grammar in Use series have received much acclaim from Korean learners around the world after being exported abroad. A part of the series has even been translated into Spanish and German and sold overseas. Korean Made Easy, which is a series for Korean students who wish to self-study, provides different levels for students at varying levels of proficiency and it has been printed 18 times.

 

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Q

 

We feel exports of Korean learning materials is likely closely linked to the Hallyu wave. Is that correct?

 

The popularity of Hallyu, or Korean culture, isn't always in one place. I personally believe the most sensitive sectors to international political changes are linguistics education and language-related publications. As relationships change between countries, or as countries build their abilities to create their own Korean language materials, we are forced to find new markets and we've done exactly so. Recently, there have been more students of the Korean language in France, other parts of Europe and South America thanks to the popularity of Korean culture there. 

 

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Q

 

When we look at the catalog for Korean books, we can feel how much effort you've put into diversifying your offerings.

 

While operating our booths in international book fairs, we've realized there are incredibly many foreigners who show interest in Korean learning materials. They are usually people who have much interest in Korean culture and want to learn the language as a hobby. I feel there should be diverse content for those who want to learn Korean because the people who want to learn show diversity too. We should try to match their needs and goals. We have a book called K-Pop Korean which teaches students Korean by singing along to 20 songs in the book. It was not easy creating the book because of copyright issues, but we thought it would be a great book to offer fans of K-pop. And in the case ofKorean Made Easy, we select even the pose taken by the models on the cover after surveying our clients -- that's how much we take effort into planning and developing these materials.

 

Q

 

We recall it was your first time participating in the traveling book fair to Thailand in June. What was your takeaway from that event?

 

The interest in our books for learning Korean was pretty hot in Thailand as well. In addition to publishers, Kinokuniya bookstore, Thai professors also visited our booth to select textbooks for their Korean classes. I do believe some of this was spurred by the decision to include Korean as an official test subject for Thailand's university entrance exams from 2017.

 

Q

 

We should not leave out the subject of e-books. We are wondering whether you have plans to publish those in the future.

 

Our e-books are already on sale at major bookstores. We also create e-books for public libraries as well . Our Korean Picture Dictionary is currently being sold on app stores in English, Chinese and Japanese under the name ‘Multilingual Picture Dictionary’. We plan to keep expanding our business related to e-books and applications.

 

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link Darakwon website: http://www.darakwon.co.kr/

link Darakwon list of Korean language materials: www.darakwon.co.kr/koreanbooks (English/Japanese)

 

 


Written by Myung-im Nam 

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