The Seoul International Book Fair 2012, the largest event of its kind in
Korea, took place at COEX from June 20 to 24. With 2012 designated as
Korea’s National Year of Reading, the expectations and enthusiasm
surrounding the event only grew during its four-day run.
National Year of Reading, a social campaign organized by the Ministry of
Culture, Sports and Tourism, was launched to promote a cultural
environment that encourages regular reading among the public. With the
recognition that the knowledge and creativity of a citizen are the core
values behind national competitiveness, the ministry announced 2012 as
the National Year of Reading in early April and has since organized a
wide variety of book-related events and programs.
summer event was last week’s Seoul International Book Fair (SIBF). First
held as a single-exhibit event in 1954, the book fair has undergone
changes over the years but continues to maintain clear aims, including
the globalization of Korean publications, the reinforcement of domestic
competitiveness, and the development of a nationwide culture of reading.
This year’s 18th SIBF brought together 580 publishing companies from 20
nations to introduce a wide array of genres and topics, including human
sciences, sociology, literature, and art.
The 18th Seoul International Book Fair held from June 20 to 24
contributed to creating a cultural environment that encourages reading
among the public.
In light of this year’s National Year
of Reading campaign, this month’s fair was organized to be the largest
in the history of the event. Nineteen of Korea’s most renowned authors
participated in discussion events with audiences, sharing with their
readers their writing styles and unique creative visions. It was also
attended by Lee O-young, a celebrated author and former Minister of
Culture, Sports and Tourism. The authors spoke on a variety of subjects,
including literature, history, classics, and philosophy.
Jae-cheon a professor at Ehwa Womans University, also met with readers
and lectured on the importance of discovering the unfamiliar through
“Increased life expectancy will make necessary the
ability to understand and incorporate knowledge in numerous fields,”
said Choi. “Reading is an ideal practice for cultivating this kind of
This year’s book fair introduced the Book Mentor
program, bringing together professionals such as authors, editors, and
book designers to offer advice and share their experience with those
aspiring to get started in the industry. Mentees received practical tips
and insights into the publishing process.
As an international
book fair, the event was attended by publishing companies from countries
such as France, Germany, the United States, and China. Saudi Arabia was
this year’s organizing country, marking the first time that a Middle
Eastern country has hosted the event, following China in 2008, Japan in
2009, and France in 2010. This year’s fair included a display on Arabic
culture that showcased more than 2,000 books on topics such as religion,
academia, language, history, and culture. Books translated into other
languages, including Korean, were also available for interested
Visitors to the Saudi Arabia booth took part in cultural activities and programs to learn about local customs.
area of the exhibition was devoted to cultural activities and
interactive programs. Visitors could recline and relax in a tent that
evoked the Bedouin desert lifestyle or watch videos about Arabic culture
in a space modeled to resemble the city of Mecca. The line in front of
one booth, where visitors could try writing their names in Arabic,
stretched to the entrance of the exhibition area.
A seminar was
held on the topics of literary exchange and accessibility between Saudi
Arabia and Korea, with participants including Saudia Arabia’s
vice-minister of education, the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the Republic
of Korea, and the director of the Saudi Arabian Cultural Center in
Other exhibits at the fair looked at the works of
previous winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature as well as the
transformation of Hangeul throughout history. Entitled “In Search of the
Lost Hangeul Typefaces,” the latter exhibit examined the factors that
influenced the development of Hangeul typefaces after the creation of
the Hunminjeongeum writing system and presented models of the various,
lesser-known typeface models that were used until recently.
The special exhibit for Nobel Prize winners offered a glimpse into the lives of world famous authors.
exhibit on Nobel Prize winners, sponsored by the Nobel Foundation, gave
visitors a glimpse into the lives of ten authors, including Ernest
Hemingway, Herman Hesse, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Rabindranath Tagore.
Handwritten manuscripts, photographs, and other personal items were also
For professionals in the domestic and international
publishing industries, networking events and seminars were also a key
part of the fair. In light of this year’s National Year of Reading
initiative, representatives from governments, non-profit organizations,
libraries, schools, publishing companies, and various media outlets were
invited to take part in a forum to discuss strategies for fostering a
culture of active and regular reading.
light of the 2012 National Year of Reading campaign, this year’s fair
was the largest in the history of the event, attracting the largest
number of visitors.
Additional seminars focused on new
business models in the publishing industry and strategies for the
digital era. Ahead of the upcoming Beijing International Book Fair, to
be held in August 2012, a seminar was held on the current state of
publications in China.
More information on the Seoul International Book Fair can be found at http://www.sibf.or.kr/en
By Lee Seung-ah
Korea.net Staff Writer