If you missed the announcement for the Seoul International Book Fair 2023, you’re not alone. We did, too. Following the more recent scheduling, when the event was held in October - in 2020 and then in September - in 2021, we assumed the event had returned to its original time slot, for later in the year. We thought we had months to spare before jet-setting off to Korea. But alas… we were wrong.
This year, it passed us by – finished. ☹ It was held in 14th ~ 18th of June, in the famous COEX building in southern Seoul. It was well visited by those who were aware of the date changes, but for those of us living busy lives elsewhere, we’ve missed it. We’re not sure why the dates were changed, or if holding the event in June, is now a permanent fixture. Sadly, we will have to keep our radars tuned for future years and we’ll need to be careful about booking our plane flights – because we just might have to get them refunded.
So, this is what we missed.
The Seoul International Book Fair has been in existence since 1947, when it was held in October. However, because of the Korean War, the 2nd book fair did not take place until seven years later. Now looking forward 69 years, the event attracts a myriad of people from all over the world – approximately 250,000 visitors a year, from such countries as Japan, China, France, UAE, Turkey, India, Italy, UK, USA, and Australia.
Like many book fairs, it services the host country - promoting their books, goods, and educational services of around 600 Korean publishers, as well as showcasing the Korean publishing industry to both the national and international communities.
Organised by the Korean Publishers Association, the yearly event promotes the importance of reading and education among Koreans, and serves to promote the export, trade and exposure of Korean literature, internationally.
The Seoul International Book Fair has grown to become one of the biggest publishing events in the Asian region, following the Beijing International Book Fair, which coincidently this year, ran concurrently to SIBF June 15~18. So, if you were thinking, you might do both in the same year – forget it. That’s not a possibility, anymore.
If you’re a publisher, then professional conferences, seminars regarding the Korean market and book rights would have been your main area of interest. For those of you who might have wanted to check out the authors, then there were signing sessions, cultural events and even kids' presentations. Don’t forget, the illustrators; they were around every corner.
This year, the Theme Exhibition was ‘Nonhuman’ – everything centered around the possibility of exploring another world of new lifeforms, something “beyond humanity”. The theme sounds a bit apocalyptic, as it tells of the world being headed for imminent “catastrophe…nowhere else to turn”. I pray we all hold greater hope for humanity.
Alongside the SIBF and the Best Book Design Exhibition, a featured program - ‘Climate Gourmet’, presented a focus on global, healthy eating. It promoted the maintenance of our planet; the benefits of natural products, soil repair, microorganisms and biodiversity.
Either way, this book fair is one to put on your calendar – that is, if we don’t miss it.
The World of Publishing
Publishing news from around the world.