Saturday, September 3, 2011

Paju fest aims for Asian town of books

Located just 30 kilometers from Seoul, Paju Book City in Gyeonggi Province is one of the most successful models in the nation as the culture community which exclusively plans, produces and distributes books with some 260 publication companies.

Now the city is taking a more ambitious plan as the global book city through the Paju BookSori Festival which will be held from Oct. 1 to 9 in the area. The festival consists of diverse exhibitions and events to attract visitors from home and abroad.

“We will make it (Paju Book City) as a hub of the Asian books by successfully hosting the festival. We hope the event will usher in a new era for books that embrace Asia, not just Paju,” Kim Un-ho, organizing committee chairman, said in a recent promotion event.

Prominent poet Ko Un who is an adviser for the festival also delivered a celebration message, saying “the festival would contribute to the book culture of the world.”

“The values of the books are more powerful than any other weapons such as missiles and guns. I hope the festival would resonate not only in Paju but also in the world,” former and first culture minister Lee O-young said.

Some 260 residing publishers and 1,000 writers will participate in the festival with 1.5 billion won in budget.

A special exhibition to mark the 110th anniversary of the Nobel Prize in Literature will display the history of winners. The photos of 107 laureates ranging from Sully Prudhomme to Ernest Miller Hemingway and Andre Gide and their books, letters, artworks and their relics will be shown at the exhibition. The exhibition which will be held from Oct. 1 to Oct. 30, will offer an opportunity to look into the private lives of the winners and their literary worlds.

Other exhibitions include “Books Open the New Silk Road” which presents the books and photographs related to six explorers, including Marco Polo and Hyecho (Korean Buddhist monk), who took the Silk Road and left their numerous accounts of the expeditions. The exhibition is designed to show the diverse cultures, knowledge and spirits of those who connected the languages and cultural diversities to different regions. It will take place from Oct. 1 to 9.

“Asian Characters” will feature the letters from 40 Asian countries and their related cultures and introduce their regional characteristics and origins of the letters and their educational usage. The exhibition will help visitors understand the similarity and differences among the Asian nations who have kept their own characters for thousands of years and find the meaning of the cultural exchanges through the publication. It will be displayed from Oct. 1 to 9.

Also, “The World of Experiment and Art” is for illustrators, designers and those who are interested in the books, designs and art. The world-famous illustrations, installations and artworks which grace the book designs will be presented. It will be held from Oct. 1 to 30.

The forums and lectures to discuss the past, present and future of the publication will be organized during the festival. “Asia Editors’ Lecture” will be held on Oct. 5 to deal with the spirits of the time and the meaning of the publication in the 21st century. The “International Publication Forum” will take place on Oct. 7 and will focus on discussing the current situation of Korean literature and the future outlook.

Among others, four revered scholars — first culture minister Lee O-young, poet Ko Un, literary critic Kim Byung-ik and KAIST professor Jung Jae-seung — will hold lectures on Oct. 1. Also, celebrated performances by singer Jang Jae-in, Jang Ki-ha and Faces and YB and Yim Ji-hoon will take place during the festival.

As the highlight of the event, Richard Booth, 73, from Hay-on-Wye, located on the border between England and Wales, will attend the festival’s opening ceremony and will meet Korean publishers and writers during his visit to the event.

Graduating from Oxford University, he opened a small book shop in Hay-on-Wye, an ordinary remote town back then in 1960s after purchasing the building which had been used as the fire station. Booth displayed his collection comprising of 250,000 books in his shop and collected second-hand books from around the world.

As his abundant collection became famous through word-of-mouth, many professors, students and book collectors from big cities such as London, Oxford and Cambridge began flocking to the shop. Since then, the town has turned into a cultural hub often described as “the town of books” and similar towns such as Redu in Belgium, Bredevoort in the Netherlands and Montulieu in France were created.

The organizers said that his visit is expected to raise awareness about the book town and inspire Koreans to improve the book city.

Source: The Korea Times

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