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Black Forest

Fresh! Fun! Creative! The Growth of South Korea's 'Genre Literature' Sigongsa Media Group's Imprint "Black Forest" Specializing in Genre Literature

 

2017.8.18

 

Genre literature refers to novels that deal with a number of subjects, like horror, science fiction, chivalry, fear, mystery, fantasy and romance. Not only can they be read in physical books but in e-books and online series as well, making it easy for these genres to secure a fan base. In the case of online novels, it has acted as a driving force for genre literature and transformed into a gateway for budding novelists. Perhaps this is the reason why these works show much variety in subject matter and entertain readers with their fresh, creative content that sometimes throws messages at society. This month's 'Korea publisher' corner has sought out two publishers specializing in genre literature and spoke to them about the now and future of Korea's genre literature.

 

Publisher Sigongsa's genre literature-specific imprint "Black Forest" was first created in 2011. As soon as it launched, "Black Forest" published Boy's Life, a novel by Robert McCammon. Following that, the publisher has continued to release diverse books from both inside and outside the country. Notable series the publisher has released include Japanese godfather of mysteries Rampo Edogawa's works, those by John Grisham, Ellery Queen's The King Is Dead and The Finishing Stroke, Yasumi Kobayashi's Killing Alice, Jean M. Auel's The Clan of the Cave Bear, Yu-jeong Jeong's The Nights of Seven Years and Josh Malerman's Bird Box. The following is an interview with Yun-hee Park at Black Forest.

 

Killing Alice

 

 

Tell us of the road you have taken so far

 

Many of our books deal with mystery and sleuthing. It's because readers usually get hooked into these books - once they start they can't stop, which is natural with the territory of this genre. In the case of finding new writers in the mystery genre, we look into publications from mystery writer associations and the short stories there within. Recently there are more diverse ways to find new writers including online novels and that helps.
In the case of foreign works, we usually deal with novels from the U.K., the United States and Japan, but recently we've begun publishing works from northern Europe. We select books with the thought in mind that we are readers too. The readers who love genre literature usually select books after carefully poring over reviews: what the book addresses, what the story is. As a result we always mull over what it is the fans really want. Nowadays there are readers who select books based on how aesthetically pleasing the books look on the cover, and we get many positive comments regarding our covers.

 

 

What are some of the books you'd like to introduce to your offshore readers?

 

I'd like to introduce mystery books based on South Korea's history and culture. It's not natural to take a large interest in other countries' culture, but there are many fresh and fun books dealing with that subject matter. Writers in Korea take one line from history and expand it into an entire story. For example, Myeong-sup Chung's the world star the of cases takes place in Korea in the early 20th century. It features fictional characters as well as non-fictional ones, adding to the realistic nature of the book.

 

The Cases of the Star World

 

Another novel that takes place in that point in history would be Gyeongseong Detective Yi Sang by Jae-hee Kim. It has been deemed a successful work of 'fact-ion' and developed into a successful series. Hyuk-gon Choi's The Night of Two Men, Not Detectives is also another good Korean thriller novel that takes place in Gwanghwamun, a popular tourist site here. Aside these, I'd like to mention the Jingu series by Jin-ki Do, who recently signed a contract with a Chinese publisher. The Racing Researcher by Si-woo Song who addresses human rights in his book is also said by critics to have broadened the horizon for Korean mystery novels.

 

 

Gyeongseong Detective Yi Sang / The Night of Two Men, Not Detectives

 

 

Do you think South Korea's genre literature will ever hit the best seller lists abroad?

  

The direction Black Forest wishes to take is 'fun'. Readers want fun. Fun novels don't necessarily mean they have to be light in content. They can send deep messages while remaining true to their genres. These days you can easily find literature works that straddle traditional literature and non-contemporary genres as the latter tends to arouse interest in readers.
There are many literary genre books now in South Korea, but the diversity is still lacking compared to overseas markets. We have fewer writers in general so there is a smaller chance readers will run into good books of literary genres. This is the reason why we struggle to introduce readers to new books. We feel once we see quantity of these works rise, we will see quality improve in turn. My hopes are high we will see a Korean bestseller overseas one day despite all of this, because of the potential Korean books have. We are keeping a close eye on online novels as we feel they are expanding the market.

 

 

link Publisher Sigongsa : www.sigongsa.com

 

 


Written by Ji-hye Gwon

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Ji-hye Gwon

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