Last year, the average Korean adult read 9.2 books, according to an annual report by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, a gradual decrease from 10.8 books in 2011 and 9.9 books in 2012. Today, with smartphones no longer just gadgets for the tech-savvy, but necessities for everyone, society’s attention has been diverted from books.
In light of the changing environment, an international book fair will begin in Seoul this week to promote reading and expand the Korean publishing industry worldwide.
The 20th Seoul International Book Fair will take place at Coex Korea Exhibition Center in Seoul from Wednesday to Sunday. The fair is the country’s largest publishing industry event, with over 130,000 people visiting last year.
|Visitors browse titles at last year’s Seoul International Book Fair. The 20th installment of the fair will be held at Coex this week. (Korean Publishers Association)|
Under the overarching theme of “See the World through Books” and “Envision the Future through Books,” 369 publishing houses from 23 countries will participate in the fair that is organized by the Korean Publishers Association. The fair exhibits books in all formats and genres, including science, literature, philosophy and children’s book, as well as selling other merchandise.
Aside from purchasing books and merchandise, visitors can attend lecture series and also meet with renowned Korean and international authors.
Oman is this year’s “Guest of Honor” nation, commemorating the 40th anniversary of its bilateral diplomatic relationship with South Korea. The Oman Pavilion, resembling a traditional Omani fort, showcases over 60 titles of books on Omani literature, economy, culture and tourism. Also, visitors can experience the tradition of “henna.” Henna is dye from the henna plant that is used for temporary tattoos, hair dye, and fabric designs on silk and wool.
Italy was selected as the country of “Culture Focus” in celebration of the 130th anniversary of diplomatic ties with South Korea. The Italian Cultural Institute in Seoul has organized a variety of programs under the motto “Golden Ratio of Culture,” displaying over 300 titles on Italian literature, art, architecture and design, including rare books and manuscripts. There will be lectures by renowned Italian novelist and literary critic Walter Siti on the desire and consumption that makes up human life and its literary reflection. Giancarlo de Cataldo, a crime novelist, film director and judge, will offer insight into global trends and the future of crime novels.
The fair’s “Meet the Authors” program will bring 22 acclaimed Korean authors to the table for a talk with readers about their books. Among them are Jo Jung-rae, author of “The Great Jungle,” Kim Hyeong-kyeong, writer of “For All the Men” and Jung I-hyun, author of “Goodbye My Everything.”
SIBF is also holding various special exhibitions throughout its period. One of them, “Korean Modern and Contemporary Book Cover Design,” will showcase book cover designs from the late 19th century to the present. The winning works from the Bologna Ragazzi Award 2014, a prestigious international award for children’s books, will also be on display. Visitors can also enjoy the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra twice a day, at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
“I hope this fair will be the venue to bring writers, readers and publishers together to exchange dialogues to pique public interest in reading,” said Ko Young-soo, president of the Korean Publishers’ Association.
For details on the fair and ticket inquiry, visit www.sibf.or.kr.
By Ahn Sung-mi (firstname.lastname@example.org)