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Nami Island International Children's Book Festival 2019

Fall into A Fairytale Land Deep Within Nature

 

2019.06.10

 

From May 4 to 26, the Nami Island International Children's Book Festival 2019 was held on Nami Island in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province. The Nami Island International Children's Book Festival was first launched in 2005 to mark the 200th anniversary of fairy tale author Hans Christian Andersen. This year marked the ninth year for the festival and visitors to the island during the festival period were delighted to see illustration works by artists from around the world, exhibitions about Andersen, performances, experience booths in addition to several other things to see and enjoy. The following takes a look at the various features of the festival, where the slogan was 'Eat, drink, place one's head on, lie on, fly and roll around in books'.


 

 

 

It was easy to see how Nami Island had truly turned into a destination island
for not only Koreans but foreign tourists as well and had transformed into
a must-visit location with myriad cultural content from a simple nature reserve.

 

 

The island of books, the island of dreams

 

This year's Nami Island International Children's Book Festival 2019 had a sub-theme called 'Life is a fairy tale', one of Andersen's famous quotes. This year marked the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties between South Korea and Denmark, so Denmark was invited as the guest country of honor to the festival. In light of this fact, there were many performances, exhibits and programs for visitors to experience themed on Denmark's famous fairy tale author Andersen and the country itself.
The island was crowded with Koreans and non-Koreans alike during the festival. It was easy to see how Nami Island had truly turned into a destination island for not only Koreans but foreign tourists as well and had transformed into a must-visit location with myriad cultural content from a simple nature reserve. As soon as one stepped on the island, a giant book sculpture greeted guests, letting them know the festival was in full gear and that the island itself is one dedicated to books. In addition to the giant book sculpture, there were as many sculptures that had to do with picture books as the trees that crowded the island.
A stroll through the meta sequoia tree trail made it easy for one to view various works from artists around the world who received awards from the Nami Competition, which is an international picture book illustration contest. Their illustrations were exhibited on book sculptures lining the trail (2019 Nami Competition Forest Exhibition). This exhibition will be on display until next year's contest, so those visiting the island after the festival can also enjoy the illustrations.
The forest trails all led to exhibition showcases, and one of them had pop-up experience booths for children where they could make face masks, get their faces painted, take polaroid photos and even create their own picture books. One could easily notice the care for children and their parents alike that had gone into the festival, which took place in May - the month for families in South Korea.

 

Visual enjoyment

 

The various exhibits on the island were a must-see during the festival. Because Andersen was a key theme for the festival, there was an exclusive display on the author himself, called Andersen's Fairy Land. This particular exhibition featured illustrations from different artists that drew on Andersen's fairy tales. Some of the early work by Andersen's exclusive illustrators Vilhelm Pedersen and Lorenz Frølich, artwork by Margrethe II and other work by Danish and Korean illustrators were all on display at the exhibition, drawing Andersen's fairy tale world a bit closer to visitors' hearts.


 

 

 

Margrethe II is famously known as Denmark's most beloved queen, and she was also an artist who worked in various media, creating paintings, collages and decoupages. She also expressed great affection for Andersen's work, voicing her wish to visually recreate his wonderful fairy tale landscapes through visual works. At the festival's exhibition, some of her work based on Andersen's fairy tales were on display like The Snow Queen and The Swan Prince.
At the Nami Competition Gallery was also a special exhibition for the award winners of the 2017 Nami Competition. Of the 149 pieces from the 18 selected pieces of artwork, only a handful were chosen for the exhibition, where visitors were allowed to touch and feel the physical artwork in addition to viewing it. The photo zone set up in the gallery has also proven to be a steady hit with visitors.
A stop by the Andersen Picture Book Center also showed another exhibition for the prize-winning work from the 2018 Hans Christian Andersen Awards. This space showcased books from around the world that took part in the competition, and during the festival, visitors were welcome to browse through the books and enjoy the exhibit all at one.
The Hans Christian Andersen Awards is an international competition hosted by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) that selects one winning author and one illustrator every two years. In 2018, the winning author was Eiko Kadono, while Igor Oleinikov was given the top illustrator award. Work from both prize winners was available for viewing at the Andersen Picture Book Center.

 

 

 

 

Enjoying with hands

 

May is Family Month in South Korea, and the festival made sure families could enjoy new experiences together with their young children throughout the island. A forested area was turned into the magic forest that appears in Andersen's fairy tale The Snow Queen and nearby, events were held where children could make-believe they were Kai or Gerda from the story. In one location, young children made face masks so they could turn into reindeer from the story. In another, a face painting booth was up and running, called the 'forest fairy dressing room'. In addition to these, a parade was held where members of the general public could participate as long as they had reindeer makeup on.
Families also enjoyed an experience booth that was created as a partnership program with the Denmark Embassy in South Korea. The booth called “I'm Big Now Too!” took its idea from a Danish tradition - the pacifier tree. In Denmark, children around the ages 3 or 4 take pacifiers they no longer use and hang it on trees to symbolize they have grown up. The program on Nami Island had children hang polaroid photos on trees instead.
Another notable event for children during the festival was “Experience Being a Danish King”, which drew from Denmark's traditional Halloween holiday called Fastelavn, where children tap open a witch's wooden barrel hanging in mid-air and enjoy the candy inside. Other booths included “The World's Biggest Andersen Picture Book”, where participants colored in sketches made by artists to complete a giant picture book; and “One-Person Picture Book Theater”, where children enjoyed stories told through pop-up books, hand puppets and puppet masks. One could hear the sound of continuous laughter from children at these experience booths.

 

 

 

 

 

The festival would continue to be enjoyed by people from around the world
and would continue to be held on this fairy tale island as we are living
in an age where we need more understanding and acceptance of children.

 

 

Nami Competition Becomes Festival for People Around the World

 

The day the author of this piece visited Nami Island was coincidentally the day they announced the award winners for the Nami Competition. The award ceremony took place from 2 p.m. on May 10 at the Magic Hall of the Song Museum. Kicking off with a paper performance called 'The Ugly Scissor Storyteller', the award ceremony started in earnest after a welcoming speech from Kang Woo-hyon, the head of the committee for the book festival. This year's competition saw 1,844 entries from 98 countries around the world. The top prize was given to one artist, while the second place 'Golden Island' award was given to two recipients. Five winners took third place 'Green Island' while four took home the honor of being fourth place 'Purple Island' recipients.
Danish ambassador to South Korea Thomas Lehmann gave a special speech at the ceremony, expressing hopes the festivities would lead to improved ties between South Korea and Denmark. He also advised the audience to enjoy the festival and fairy tales. Following Lehmann, IBBY chairman Mingzhou Zhang hoped the festival would continue to be enjoyed by people from around the world and would continue to be held on this fairy tale island as we are living in an age where we need more understanding and acceptance of children.
After the 12 winners received their prizes, the top grand prix winner, Andre Letria of Portugal, gave a speech. Beginning by congratulating the other winners and sharing his happiness, Letria said despite dark elements in his book he tried to shed light on the darkness of man and he wished his book would serve as a learning experience for readers. He went on, saying he wished to prove the value of solidarity through accepting differences and seeking understanding for an eventually bright future.
The speeches were followed by a children's musical performance(Children's band of wind and percussion instruments) and a rice cake cutting, which all added to the excitement of the day.

 

 

 

 

 

This year's festival came to a close on May 26. The festival may be over, but Nami Island is still open to all. The excitement from the festival may not all be there, but some of the exhibitions and sculptures will keep their locations until the next festival, which will take place in 2021. For those who don't want to wait, a look at “Picture Books NOW” that is taking place in Seoul might be worth a visit.

 

“Picture Books NOW” exhibition guide
Date : Ends July 7, 2019 (Closed every Monday)
Viewing hours : 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Entry closes at 6 p.m.)
Location : Seoul Forest Galleria Foret The Seoul Liteum Gallery 5
Address : 32-14 Seoulsup 2-gil, Seongdong-gu, Seoul
Inquiries : 02-736-1249 / https://picturebooknow.modoo.at

 


Written by Choi Hyo-jun

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Choi Hyo-jun

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