This year’s London Book Fair, held from April 8-10 at Earls Court, was an exciting occasion for the Korean publishing and literary community, with Korea being showcased as the Market Focus country for 2014.
The London Book Fair Korea Market Focus programme consisted broadly of two different types: the Professional Programme, in partnership with the Publishers Association (PA) and the Korean Publishers Association (KPA); and the Cultural Programme, curated by the British Council and LTI Korea. This was the culmination of a number of activities and events which began last year, and the Cultural Programme will continue through this year with Korean writers participating in literary festivals and residencies around the UK. Activities in 2013 leading up to this year’s London Book Fair included literary events with novelists Ch’oe Yun, Jung Young Moon, and Jeong Chan at the Korean Cultural Centre UK (KCCUK); a UK writers’ trip to Korea; a Korean literary professionals’ study trip to the UK supported by the Arts Council Korea; and a UK editors’ trip to Korea.
The Professional Programme, which ran concurrently at the London Book Fair, offered a forum for those in the trade to learn more about the Korean publishing industry. Sessions included an overview of the Korean book market, technology and digital publishing, children’s and educational books, and a roundtable discussion on translation, publication, and globalization of Korean literature.
The Cultural Programme during the London Book Fair involved 10 prominent Korean writers and more than 35 panelists including British writers, translators, and editors at more than 20 events at 12 venues across four cities. The invited delegation of writers represented the diversity of contemporary Korean writing, including critically acclaimed novelists Hwang Sok-yong, Yi Mun-yol, Lee Seung-U, Kim Insuk, Shin Kyung-sook, Kim Young-ha, and Han Kang; distinguished poet Kim Hyesoon; ground-breaking webtoonist Yoon Tae-ho; and children’s books writer and the London Book Fair’s Market Focus “Author of the Day,” Hwang Sun-mi. Writer Krys Lee and literary translator Brother Anthony of Taizé were also invited from Seoul by the British Council and LTI Korea to take part in several events. Each Korean writer participated in at least one London Book Fair seminar at Earls Court and one public event at major venues across London (Asia House, British Library, English PEN/Free Word Centre, Korean Cultural Centre UK, London Review Bookshop, and the Saison Poetry Library at the Royal Festival Hall) or the UK (Cambridge Literary Festival, Edinburgh Central Library, and Wales Literature Exchange). Most events featured a Korean writer alongside a UK writer and a literary professional to discuss wide-ranging themes and topics, including the relationship between literature and history, illusions and reality, allegory and literary imagination, family and identity, text and visual media, and literary translation.