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제 1 호 “How Is It Going?” What is Everyone Reading?

  • 작성일 2019-03-26
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How Is It Going?

What is Everyone Reading?

Social trends seen through bestsellers

by Min-gyeong Lee, Editor / Yu-sun Kang, Reporter

lee.mkpeach@gmail.com / dbtjs126@naver.com

  Even if the number of people who read books decreases by the day, the best-selling books could be an indicator that notes the interests of people these days. Therefore, let me examine the bestseller information from internet bookstores, focusing on current keywords of the past few years.

1. “Healing” and “Hot Topic”

1) Warm-hearted essay, “Respect self-esteem”

  In the difficulties of everyday life and social conditions, people have wanted something that could affirm their self-esteem. Rather than future-oriented self-help books, artless and warm-hearted essays and diaries that writers plainly confessed mental difficulties have been emphasized. 

  The “character essay” like ‘Pooh Bear; There Are Happy Things Everyday’ has been a big hit since last year. In addition, 10 character essays, such as BONOBONO's, Doraemon, Alice, Mickey Mouse, Peter Rabbit, Pororo etc, were published and had readers heart-warmed. 

Pooh Bear; 
There Are Happy Things Everyday’

  The book ‘I Want to Die but I Want to Eat Some Tteokboki’ has gained great popularity and many books have been published, which incorporate depression confession and diaries struggling against disease. 

  • △ I Want to Die but I Want to Eat Some Tteokboki’

  In addition, a book about how to protect ourselves wisely in a harsh society, that is, rejecting the unreasonable demands from others, and presenting a method of keeping sane in human relations, has gained great popularity; ‘How to Smile and Deal with Rude People’, ‘How to Talk without Negligible’, ‘Between You and Me’, ‘I Decided to Live as Who I Am’, ‘I Decided to Live Insensitively’ etc.

△ Books about balance of protecting self-esteem and wise social life

2) Women, "My Reality, Our Reality"

  Feminism is a hot potato nowadays, with various kinds of sexual violence incidents, female hate crimes, and the popular female realism novel ‘Kim Ji-young Born in 1982’. Other than that, the woman's realism novels including ‘Ha-yon-ga’, ‘Her Name Is’, ‘The Lie That A Woman is happy Because She Is Female’, ‘Walk Together but Alone’, etc. have been published. 

  • △ Female realism novels

  Nowadays, those contents have been diverse such as Korean women's life, history of women's studies, confessions of married women, etc. The history books of women's studies-based social analysis have attracted the attention of readers, such as ‘Triggering of Feminism’ and ‘Feminism Approved by Brother(Oppa)’. 

  • △ Books of women's studies-based social analysis

  The importance of gender neutral education is also discussed nowadays, ‘Feminism School for Children’, ‘I Really Want to Say’, ‘My sister(Unnie), What Is Feminism?’, ‘Pink Hat’, ‘Feminism To School’, ‘ Hi, My Name Is Feminism’ and other educational books for children and adolescents have been published. Lots of readers are also interested in sex education books for parents: ‘How to Educate Your Daughter with Courage without Having Atrophy’, ‘How to Educate Your Son Smiling without Hesitation’, ‘A Sex Education Dialogue Between a Feminist Mother and an Elementary Schoolchild Son’.

△ Books for gender neutral education

3) Korean History, North Korea "Let's see the future through our past."

  From participation of North and South Korea in a single team during the 2018 Pyeong-Chang Winter Olympic Games and Inter-Korean summits to North Korea–United States Summits, here was a lot of news about North Korea. Therefore, readers' interest in North Korea has “exploded”. According to YES24, sales of books related to North Korea increased 480% compared to the previous year.

  The influence of these topics has raised interest in history. For example, there are ‘The History of Writing History’ of Yoo Si-min and ‘Seol Min-seok’s The Great Adventure of Korean History’ the history comic book series written by Seol Min-seok, a famous Korean history lecturer. The other multiple history books written by him, are also highly popular: ‘Seol Min-seok’s the Chosun Dynasty’ and ‘Seol Min-seok’s Great Adventure of Reunification’.

Popular Korean history education books

2. “Art” and “Culture”

  Among young Korean people recently, the act of getting out of the indifferent modern society and the fierce competition society to regain confused identity appears in a variety of artistic ways. They are largely divided into "knowledge oriented" and "experience oriented”.

1) “Physical Artistic Activities” for Self-Improvement

  Experience-oriented young people simply want things that require some time and effort. It is said that while doing such a thing, they somehow forget the bad thoughts and anxieties that have been bothering them unconsciously. The ones that help people on the way are ‘Coloring Books’ which remind people of the emotions of the 90s, and its playful extension, ‘Scratch Coloring Books (that engrave printed black board with a sharp pen to complete the paintings)’, which have become so popular and still are released from Kyobo Bookstore to Daiso every year for a huge number of fans worldwide.

△ Sorts of popular coloring or drawing books

2) “Knowledgeable Artistic Activities” for Self-Improvement

  Books about “Art” and “Museum,” have gotten very popular for knowledge-oriented young people in general. Recently, since traveling has becoming a big part of life for them who want to live a YOLO life, they want to remember and feel the romantic Renaissance era in Europe. So that is the reason why they go to the famous art museums like ‘Louvre Museum’, ‘Orsay Museum’, ‘The British Museum’, ‘National Gallery’ and ‘Vatican Museum’ all over Europe. As knowledge has become the most important factor for them, they want to know information and history about the timeless masterpieces displayed in those museums.

△ Books about most famous or popular art museums all over Europe

  At large bookstores, history-related books, which are held as pop-ups, are continuously being sold. It is also worth paying attention to the types of books that young people enjoy to improve their knowledge and thereby improve their self-satisfaction. These types of trendsetters are also divided in two directions.

3) Culture from a Perspective of Literally “Historical Consciousness”

  The most popular type of books in the cultural element of historical consciousness is poetry. The field of poetry is basically concise and delicate, and it is also difficult to put on the bestseller list in general, as it requires readers to deliver significant and powerful meanings even at that very short moment of reading. Poets that impress and resonate with people along with such elements are said to be very numerous around the world generally. However, only a few poets have expressed Korean historical sentiments in their works. Among them the poet ‘Yoon Dong-joo’, as known as an independence activist in the Japanese occupation period, has recently drawn attention from the media and recently touched the hearts of many Koreans. So some of the major publishers borrowed the original cover design for his signature book ‘The Sky, the Wind, the Stars and the Poems’ and revised the text to make it easier for readers to read, but kept the original text alive to the fullest extent possible so that the meaning of the poem would not be compromised, Sometimes the words or difficult Chinese characters that he did not use have been even more elaborated with footnotes to help readers understand. With such new literary devices, numerous emotions that he felt are conveyed through his work as we read the book. It heals our broken souls and leads to self-reflection and development at the same timeby the abundant thoughts of the young poet that lived in another era.

△ Poems of ‘Yoon Dong-joo’ and ‘Yi Yook-sa’, as known as the independence activists.

4) Culture from a Perspective between “History” and “Entertainment”

  What if this content about history, filled with a little bit more lyrical and sad feelings, contains an "entertainment" element? The recent constant exposure of historical entertaining contents and short documentaries on television to young people completely changed the cultural wave in Korea. Especially, ‘Seol Min-seok,’ a history lecturer who is well known to anyone watching TV in Korea, is also on the bestseller list. His books contain additional content that is slightly different from what he says on TV. So for the people who don’t really like TV much, his books are a perfect tool to enjoy his words about history. His representative works include ‘The Annals of the Joseon Dynasty’ and ‘The History of the Integration of the Republic of Korea

△ Korean history book 
of the famous history lecturer 
‘Seol Min-seok’