Yoo Hong-jun’s renowned travelogue series has sold 3 million copies, according to its publisher Changbi. The six-part series is the only humanities publication to hit the 3 million mark.
“As of March, several humanities books have sold over 1 million copies, like “What is Justice” or “Youth Hurts.” But the travelogue is the first in the category to sell over 3 million,” the publisher said in a statement
“My Survey of Cultural Heritages” has made the author one of the most recognizable experts in this area.
No scholar in modern times has been able to write such detailed, enlightening, and at times entertaining, stories on cultural heritage across the Korean Peninsula. Of the six books, two of them are devoted to stories solely on cultural treasures in North Korea.
Yoo also served as the head of the Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea from 2004 until 2008. He currently serves as a professor in the Art History Department at Myongji University.
An art historian by profession, he released the first part of the series in 1993, centered on his personal experiences of traveling through the southern part of the country.
The main purpose of the travelogue has been to shed light on numerous unrecognized cultural artifacts all over the Korean Peninsula.
The first of the series became an instant bestseller, contributing to a new sense of respect among the general readership of our own cultural heritage.
‘To love is to know’
The 63-year-old tried to engage the public in learning about our traditional legacy through famous quotes like “To love is to know” and “We can only see as much as we know” found in the first series.
The sixth book was released last year, devoted to Seoul and areas that he had neglected to cover previously, like South Chungcheong Province.
He devotes almost 150 pages to Gyeongbok Palace alone, giving readers fresh, detailed insight into the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910) landmark.
The sub-title of this latest series can be translated as “There Are Hidden Masters Everywhere,” which is a reminder to readers of the hard work of numerous experts and masters in maintaining cultural heritages, including temples, hanok (traditional Korean houses), old schools, palaces, museums, parks and much more.
“A masterpiece is the outcome of the strenuous efforts of many hidden masters. Though unrecognized by the public, they are the true experts,” Yoo wrote in the introduction of the sixth series.
A seventh series will be published in June, with a focus on introducing the traditional treasures of Jeju Island.
There is no telling when the series will be concluded, as he said many parts of the Korean Peninsula still remained uncovered.
“I would like to also write about North Chungcheong and Gyeonggi Province. If I get a chance to visit some more North Korean cities like Hamheung, Bukcheong and Gapsan, I would like to do an additional book on North Korea,” Yoo said.
He also expressed a wish to someday write about the Korean cultural legacies housed in countries like Japan and China.