Book series feature Korean, Western classics

By Claire Lee
  • Published : Jan 16, 2012 - 18:49
  • Updated : Jun 11, 2014 - 15:06

“Olje Classics,” a book series consisting of four local and Western classics. (Olje)
‘Olje Classics’ sold out one day after hitting bookstore shelves

A book series consisting of four local and Western classics, published at a low-price to provide the texts to the less fortunate, sold out just one day after hitting the shelves last week.

Provided by non-profit corporation Olje, the four-volume series in Korean titled “Olje Classics” includes Plato’s “The Republic,” Aristotle’s “Politics,” “Analects of Confucius,” and “Gowoonjib,” a collection of essays by renowned Silla period (57 B.C.― 935 A.D.) author Choi Chi-won. Each book of the series is priced at 2,900 won.

Olje only published 5,000 copies of the books as limited editions, and put aside 1,000 copies for future donations. The remaining 4,000 copies hit the bookshelves of the series’ only distributor Kyobo Bookstore on Jan. 11. People were able to book their purchase in advance online on Kyobo’s website since Jan. 9.

The books were sold out both on and offline by Jan. 12, according to Olje.

“We were going to have the books on sale for six months,” an official of Olje, who wanted to remain anonymous, told The Korea Herald on Monday. “Our initial plan was to donate the remaining books as well ― if they do not get sold out by the end of the six months. But the response we received was much more enthusiastic.”

Olje said the publication of the series was the result of the generous sponsorship of many different groups and corporations. Local conglomerates Samsung and SK funded most of the cost of the project, while Kyobo Book Centre was in charge of its distribution. The Institute for the Translation of Korean Classics also contributed with the publication of Choi Chi-won’s “Gowoonjib.”

Jungwook Hong, the chairman of Olje, said his group plans to introduce a total of 100 classics in the next five years with the series. “We’ll continue working on future projects to introduce significant classics, arts and culture to those who don’t have much access to them, including teenagers.”

The Olje official said the success of the project reveals the demand for classics. “Most of the classics are expensive to buy and often considered hard to understand,” she told The Korea Herald. “So they’ve become something that’s hard to approach. I think the price of our series and the way it’s distributed met their needs.”

The four volumes of the series will be available for free online at after six months. For more information on the series, call (02) 720-8278.

By Claire Lee (