Seoul International Book Fair

21 Jun

Seoul Book Fair

The 2013 Annual Seoul International Book Fair

Yes, all you English Majors in the world out there, be very, very jealous. For today, I was placed into a HUGE auditorium filled with books, and authors, and publishers, and it just keeps going! It was reader’s heaven!  So many books out there that I had never heard of (mostly because the vast majority were in foreign languages 😛 ).  

First opening in 1995, the Seoul International Book Fair has been going strong ever since.  Every year the Korea Publishers Assn.  hosts the event, which this year is at the COEX Exhibition Hall from June 19- June 23.  You can by your ticket at the ticket booth next to the exhibition hall, and then enter into a book-lover’s (and child’s) wonderland.


Instead of being one of those places where children with sticky fingers should be left behind, the halls are filled with dozens of stalls with interactive activities set up for children.  Many of the book publishers were dedicated to children’s books, so a great many offered books and toys for kids to play with while the parents shopped. It offered both fiction and educational resources, with everything from children’s beginning readers to McGraw Publishing Co.  

In additional to children’s activities and publishers, there were a large number of stalls dedicated to the history of publishing in Korea.  As a student of History and particularly the law relating to artifacts,  I was thrilled to have the chance to work with a replication of the Jikji.  For those who are unfamiliar with its story, the Jikji is the world’s oldest movable type printing machine. You may have been told that Guttenberg’s was the first, but actually Korean monks had come up with the idea long before.  At present it is mired in intrigue due to the fact that both France and Korean museums are staking legal claims to its ownership, and the case has drawn up all sorts of legal questions as to the protections offered for cultural resources. Okay, enough going off topic (I could speak about that issue for ages 😛 ), I recently completed a presentation on the topic, and I was amazed to get the opportunity to see a replica in work. He even let me put the paper down and work it. I kept the paper as a souvenir! But there were also other museums and historical exhibits on display.


For those more interested in the publishing/writing side of things, the Korean Copyright office also had a stall available with information on how to get your works copyrighted. There was even an entire exhibit hall dedicated to Book Artists (the people who do all the pictures for your favorite works!).  They had tons of tools, tips, and connections available for people who are interested in getting their stuff published out there.

Then of course there were the traditional stalls, offering books in every language and genre imaginable. The University Presses were out in force (including Sungkyunkwan’s which made me happy since I studied there last summer!) as were Magazine companies, Educational Publishers, and even the US Embassy (with resources on how to study in the US–not sure what that had to do with books, but hey).  And what would a book fair be without the beloved FICTION stalls?!? Everything from the biography of Steve Jobs (in Korean) to good old English Classics like Pride and Prejudice was available for discount prices.  I even picked up a G.K. Chesterton (a particular favorite author of mine) novel containing a collection of Father Brown mysteries for my flights.  It only cost me $1.50 and it’s small enough to lug around in my purse during layovers.

 The best part was that the publishers came from every country imaginable. You had US publishers, Indian publishers, Japanese authors, Chinese literature, and more.  There was even a huge set up for authors from Saudi Arabia!


They even host a bunch of events for people to attend where they can meet the authors or publishers and get tips on how to work in the field.  There were signings and meetings, and lots of other fun things to do. This year, Canada was the sponsored nation, so many events focused around people from that country. Tomorrow there will actually still be two more events if anyone is interested!

  • “Weaving Creativity into Writing” @ 3 p.m.-4 p.m. in Seminar Room 318C –> The Creative Writing for Children Society is hosting a talk for parents and children talking about how they use creative literature as an educational tool.
  • “Animations from Canada” @ 3 p.m. -4 p.m. (or at 12 p.m.-1 p.m. on June 23) in Hall B, Event Hall 3. which includes a film on Canadian animation.


  • Samseong Station (Line 2), Take EXIT 6.  You will thus enter the COEX Mall. You want to go inside the mall and follow the signs upstairs to the Exhibition Hall (You’re going to want to go up the escalator at some point). Ask information for directions if confused.

Admission Price

  • Adults: 3000 Won
  • Children: 1000 Won

Further Information

  • Hours (last admission is 30 minutes before closing):
    • June 22: 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
    • June 23: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • Additional Resources:

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