World Book Day in Seoul



VsignGood News for Book Lovers!

One weekend we went to Gwanghwamun Square to visit the museum to King Sejong and Admiral Yi and just happened on this festival for 2016 World Book Day. (See my earlier post about our day in and around Gwanghwamun Square here )

Gwanghwamun Square
Huge “books”

book towerThe book festival was at the north end of the long square closest to the Gwanghwamun Gate leading into the huge Gyeongbokgung Palace complex. This is one of the most important squares in Seoul, so is a fitting venue for something like this. What a wonderful idea, to encourage people to read and to love books, especially in these days when so much is done on computers or tablets, and many young people always have their eyes on some screen or other.

As I wrote earlier, “Kids were reading in an open tent; people could borrow books from a small library; various artists were decorating or illustrating large “books”; huge mock-ups of famous titles, a book ‘tower’ and a large blue elephant illustrated the theme. A young lady invited passers-by to write on a large board called the Visitors Book, so I added to the messages—some about books and reading, many about Seoul and experiences in Seoul.”

Reading tent
Rod M in the small library
Visitors Book

It was fun to see so many people of all ages really interested and engaged in this book festival, especially seeing that Korea is well known as being one of the top tech countries in the world.

Fun Factoid: I found the results of a survey published in the Korea Herald just before the 2016 World Book Day (see all results here ), which found that the average salaryman in Korea reads 2.3 books a month and spends about 29,000 won ($25) a month on books. The most popular topics were economics and business management, followed by humanities, history, religion and arts.

Big blue elephant reads a book–who is he?
Illustrating a big ‘book’
A fun statue!

UNESCO organizes the World Book Day and Copyright Day, with pop-up book fairs all around the world. It’s a way to celebrate all things related to books and reading, and to highlight the importance of books in all societies. In 2016 some of the countries/cities involved were Australia, Tokyo, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Hungary, Paris, Amsterdam, Sweden, Chicago, Seattle. In Korea, Pusan and Daegu also hosted pop-up fairs. In 2018, it’s expected that the day will be marked in over 100 countries.

World Book Day is always celebrated on April 23rd to promote reading, publishing and copyright. It was officially celebrated for the first time on April 23, 1995. April 23rd was chosen because on this day in 1616 Miguel de Cervantes died, as did William Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega.