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2019 Seoul International Book Fair - Arrival

The country's biggest book festival, a celebration of people who make, write and read books

 

2019.07.08

 

From June 19 to 23, the 2019 Seoul International Book Fair (SIBF) was held at Seoul's COEX. Themes for 2017 and 2018 had been 'transformation' and 'expansion' respectively, and this year's book fair had the theme 'arrival'. The theme 'arrival' for SIBF was given in reference to prospects for books to come, and those for the world beyond books. Visitors to the 2019 SIBF were invited to learn about the 'arrival' of South Korea's publishing industry and the country's society beyond their 'transformation' and 'expansion'.

 

Official posters for the 2019 Seoul International Book Fair

 

South Korea's biggest book festival; South Korea and the world meet through books

 

 

At the 2019 Seoul International Book Fair,
there were many attempts to connect books
with non-book items in line with the theme 'arrival'

 

 

The Seoul International Book Fair is likely the only venue where publishers and authors who love books and readers of books can all convene in one location. In the biggest event for the festival to date, this year's SIBF had more than 60,000 visitors register before opening day, reflecting the popularity of the festival and books in South Korea. This year's guest country of honor was Hungary, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary of diplomatic ties with South Korea this year. A booth introducing Hungarian books as well as the country's culture was installed at the festival this year. In addition to Hungary, 41 countries including the United States, France, the United Kingdom and Japan, and 431 publishers (313 South Korean, 118 non-Korean) participated in the book fair.
The 2019 SIBF had had a variety of interesting programs for book lovers to enjoy, and in line with the theme 'arrival', there were many attempts to connect books with other non-book items. Inside the book fair venue were all sorts of different booths and books that drew people's attention. Also, throughout the entire book fair were diverse programs for visitors to experience, as well as seminars and conferences where authors and other famous people came and discussed issues related to books.

 

Scenes from the 2019 SIBF

 

Diverse speakers at the Seoul International Book Fair

 

Of all the programs the book fair had to offer this year, lectures that were based on the keyword 'arrival' drew the most attention. Talks were given by Man Booker Prize winner Han Kang, South Korean actor Jung Woo-sung, physicist Kim Sang-wook, philosopher and this year's SIBF honorary spokesperson Kim Hyung-suk and television producer Lee Wook-jung who is known for several food documentaries.
Among the five speakers, Lee opened a cooking studio at the book fair called 'Open Kitchen' where visitors were able to admire cookbooks featuring ingredients and recipes from around the world. A cooking demonstration was also held, with the audience invited to try samples. Lee later gave a lecture on cooking and books. Actor Jung Woo-sung introduced his latest book called, If You Could See the Things I Saw (WonderBox) at a program called "Summer, First Book". The program was new to the fair, introducing new releases to the world. Visitors to the program were able to meet ten authors including Jung and authors Jang Gang-myung, Kim Sang-geun and Lee Jin-woo, who were there to discuss their latest books.

 

Actor Jung Woo-sung signing autographs (left), Lee Wook-jung holding an open kitchen lecture (right)

 

At the 2019 Seoul International Book Fair were also many authors who wished to meet readers. At a program called "Meeting Authors", authors like Kim I-hwan, Ahn Hee-yeon and Lim Kyung-sun were invited to speak with readers about various stories and topics under themes like "SF novels", "new gender sensitivity", "the arrival of a new reading culture", "why we love picture books" and "an author's author". Visitors to the book fair were also able to experience writers' stories through special editions of books. The "Limited Edition" program launched in 2017 publishes special books with new themes every year to commemorate the book fair. This year, stories with the theme 'taste' from authors like Lee Hae-rim, Lee Yong-jae and Oh Eun were all collected and tied into one special edition book called The Memory of Taste featured at the book fair.

 

Conferences Share Diverse Publishing Issues

 

Books are like mirrors that reflect our society and thus give us numerous themes to discuss. At the 2019 SIBF, there were many conferences to discuss books and publishing issues. Among these conferences was one called "E-publishing Seminar and Conference" that identified e-publishing as the latest publishing business foray. Discussions were held with the themes "ways for publishers, libraries to co-exist in a future e-book eco-system", "the arrival of a new e-publishing business", "the attack of Netflix, fixed book price policies challenged", and "how to create audio content as fun as Netflix". The landscape of electronic publishing is constantly changing, and different forms of e-publishing are frequently emerging as technology develops. For those who had an existing interest in e-publishing, the conferences and seminars offered a rare opportunity for them to listen to the latest on the industry and what issues it currently faces.

 

 

Books are like mirrors that reflect our society
and thus give us numerous themes to discuss.

 

 

Scenes from 'Global Issue Conference' (left) and 'Global Market Day' (right)
ⓒ 2019 Seoul International Book Fair

 

Speakers from various countries outside South Korea also took part in conferences at the book fair. One called the "Global Issue Conference" addressed many international issues having to do with books. At the "Global Market Day" program, participants discussed various book festivals in countries around the world and the current status of publishing markets there. Fourteen directors for various book festivals in Asia, Africa, Central and South America and Europe convened at the SIBF to introduce their respective international book fairs and talk about regional publishing industries. Also, at the "Connected Cooperation Program", conferences were held to share the latest stories on the cultural publishing industry. Many discussions took place at the book fair this year among professionals in the global publishing industry, addressing everything from future industry models for publishing to translating Korean literature.

 

More books, more booths

 

As this year's Seoul International Book Fair was the biggest of its kind ever, there were many book culture programs held here and there at booths throughout the festival. Roughly 170 programs were available for visitors including lectures, meet and greets with authors, hands-on programs, autograph events and book concerts. Below are some of the more intriguing programs that were on display at this year's SIBF.
One of these was a booth for regional South Korean bookstores only called "Book # (Sharp)" created by the Korea Federation of Bookstores Association. The "Book #" booth had a section introducing regional bookstores in South Korea called "Knowing Bookstores" and another corner featuring performances called "Enjoying Bookstores". A third section called "Playing Bookstores" depended heavily on the participation of visitors. At "Enjoying Bookstores", one-person performances were held by those like picture book writers to the delight of passersby.

 

Booths created by the Korea Federation of Bookstores Association (left)and the Publication Industry Promotion Agency of Korea (right)

 

There were also booths that aimed to deliver useful information for publishing industry professionals and to recommend Korean books based on their excellence. The Publication Industry Promotion Agency of Korea (KPIPA) hosted several different programs at its booth like "Publishing Links Exports", "Strategic Preliminary Course to Train Global Publishing Professionals", "Survival Tactics for Neighborhood Bookstores", and "The Struggles of Independent Publishers". Particularly on the opening day of the SIBF, the booth held the sixth annual awards event for South Korea's e-publishing industry. Actor Bong Tae-gyu's Our Family is Quite Serious (Gilbut) took home the top prize.
Aside from these, many other participants of the book fair showed off their uniqueness and individual colors through their booths. Publisher BookGoodCome had a pop-up card-making program that was popular among children while at the booth for Gozknock ENT, known for thriller novels, K-thriller authors could be seen signing autographs, making it a must-visit location for scary book lovers. Book21, a publishing company that aspires to become a leader in content that breaks down barriers, made a VR/AR station available at its booth with Chinese character content for the duration of the book fair, creating a space for visitors to enjoy books through means beyond reading.

 

A booth for Asian independent publishers

 

Sungsimdang (left) and a promotion booth for Jikji, a Buddhist document (right)

 

In addition to these, many other programs were open to the public, like an experience tour for children and young adults, and the "Freedom of Publishing" seminar, which shed light on the current meaning of securing publishing freedom after looking back on the history of global publishing oppression. A booth for independent publishers from six Asian countries like South Korea, Japan and China was also at the book fair and renowned bakery chain Sungsimdang even had a booth for both books and pastries, touting themselves as a baked goods company that also creates books. Book-related goods could be purchased several of events while a unique promotion booth for Jikji, the oldest book printed using movable metal type in the world also drew many visitors. The 2019 SIBF ended on a high note after receiving much attention from book lovers. Hopes are rising for next year's SIBF, what stories it will tell, and what events it will have for readers.

 

Click to access the Seoul International Book Fair's website: http://sibf.or.kr/

 

 


Written by Choi Ha-Yeong

kbbok

Choi Ha-Yeong

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