The Korea Herald


4 out of 10 translated books in Korea were Japanese last year: report

By Hwang Dong-hee

Published : July 19, 2023 - 18:28

    • Link copied

Visitors line up for the booth set up for Visitors line up for the booth set up for "Slam Dunk" at the Seoul International Book Fair at Coex, southern Seoul, on June 14. (Hwang Dong-hee/The Korea Herald)

The number of books translated and published into Korean for local readers decreased last year, but Japanese titles maintained their popularity, data from the Korean Publishers Association showed on Wednesday.

According to the KPA's annual "Korean Publication Yearbook," the number of foreign books translated and published in Korean for the domestic market last year was 10,472, a decrease of 14.2 percent compared to the previous year's total of 12,210.

Out of 10,472 translated works, Japanese titles took the lead with a total of 4,138 books, surpassing the combined number of translated books from the US (2,957) and the UK (919). France (608) and Germany (379) secured the fourth and fifth positions, respectively.

In 2020 and 2021, Japanese works translated into Korean from also took up about 40 percent of the total number of translated works.

In addition, while the average price of new books increased, both the number of new publications and the total number of copies printed decreased compared to the previous year.

The number of new publications in 2022 stood at 61,181, marking a 5.4 percent fall from the previous year. The number of copies printed slid 8.8 percent to 72,910,992 copies.

The average price of published books rose to 17,869 won ($14), indicating a 4.4 percent uptick from the previous year.

After a slight drop from 16,486 won in 2019, during the beginning of the pandemic, book prices reached 16,420 won in 2020, then 17,116 won in 2021.

In terms of new publications, literature comprised the largest portion with 21.6 percent, followed by social science (18.2 percent) and children's books (13.8 percent). Technology science (11.5 percent), comics (9.7 percent), religion (5 percent), art (4 percent) and others made up the remaining categories.

Within the literature category, novels had the highest publication count with 3,579, followed by other genres (3,573), poetry (3,275), essays (2,594) and plays (217).

In terms of sales, children's books sold the most copies at 25.7 percent of the total, followed by social sciences (16.2 percent) and literature (15.7 percent).

The full edition of the "Korean Publication Yearbook," which will be released in December, provides data including publishing statistics, trends, the status of libraries and bookstores, the local reading culture, copyright statistics and a list of all published books submitted by publishers for the year.