With an award recognizing an imprisoned Egyptian publisher’s struggle for freedom of the press, Seoul International Book Fair 2019 is set to open next week.
The annual fair will take place June 19-23 at the Coex Convention and Exhibition Center in Gangnam, southern Seoul.
This year, the festival will highlight the importance of the freedom of the press, organizers said during a press conference Monday in central Seoul.
A poster for Seoul International Book Fair 2019 features (from left) model Han Hyun-min, novelist Han Kang and Yonsei University honorary professor Kim Hyung-seok. (Korean Publishers Association)
Organizers of Seoul International Book Fair 2019 speak during a press conference Monday at the Korea Press Center in central Seoul. (Yonhap)
On June 21, the International Publishers Association will award the IPA Prix Voltaire to Egyptian publisher Khaled Lutfi for publishing and distributing “The Angel: The Egyptian Spy Who Saved Israel,” written by Uri Bar-Joseph.
The prize is given to figures who have contributed to the “defense and promotion of freedom to publish,” according to the association.
His brother will accept the award on behalf of Lutfi, who is in prison for the publication of the book on charges it contains classified military information. The ceremony will take place at Kyujanggak, the royal library of the Joseon era.
The organizers have also collaborated with the Art Sonje Center to highlight the subject of “forbidden books.” Artist Rho Jae-oon has created works inspired by censored books across Asia.
Apart from the spotlight on freedom of the press, the festival is held under the theme “Arrival” this year.
“Through the book fair, we will discuss the future of books, which will be arriving shortly, and we can also look at the world beyond books,” the organizers said.
Lectures by Man Booker International Prize winner Han Kang and philosopher Kim Hyung-seok will touch on the “arrival” of new questions about books and literature.
Han will speak on the value of paper books and literature on the first day, followed by actor Jung Woo-sung, a UNHCR National Goodwill Ambassador, who will address the plight of Yemeni refugees on Jeju Island.
Physicist Kim Sang-wook and TV producer Lee Wook-jung will also take to the podium to discuss science and food, respectively.
Forty-one countries, including Hungary -- chosen as the guest of honor to mark 30 years of diplomatic ties between Korea and Hungary -- will be represented at this year’s book fair, as well as 312 local publishing companies and 117 overseas companies.
“It is hard to hear that things are going well in the publishing industry, but the book fair has been doing well over the years. I believe society has formed a sort of consensus that books and publishing cannot fall anymore,” said Moon Cheol-ho, head of the Korean Publishers Association.
“Books should approach the readers with valuable information or console them -- going back to the basics. I hope many can come to the event, meeting new books that they will befriend over the summer.”
Admission costs 6,000 won for adults over 21 and 3,000 won for young people 20 and under. For more information and the program schedule, visit the event website at sibf.or.kr.
By Im Eun-byel (firstname.lastname@example.org)