Friday, August 24, 2012

Books in Korean Market

President and Louis Vuitton

Hwang Sang-min; Deulnyeok Publishing: 368 pp., 15,000 wonWhy are Koreans so crazy about designer handbags and other luxury goods? Why do they pay more for a cup of take-out coffee from a major chain than they do for their lunch? Why do they keep buying lottery tickets even though it’s highly unlikely they will hit the jackpot?

The author, a well-known psychologist, attempts to explain to readers the reasons behind the hard-to-understand consumer behavior. He analyzes and describes the psychology of the consumer from their point of view and not that of the vendor.

Hwang — a star professor who has actively expressed his opinions on social, political and economic issues via various media — says people buy luxury items and large-size sedans as status symbols to show off.

As American author Barbara Kruger said: “I shop therefore I am,” people are defined by what they buy and own these days. They want to show off their social standing with their expensive belongings.

This is because they are empty inside, writes Hwang. He said consumers should have their values in order not to become a slave to consumption.


The 11th Endeavor
The First Astronaut in Korea, Lee So-yeon’s Full Story

Lee So-yeon; frombooks: 248 pp., 13,000 won

Engineer Lee So-yeon, 34, became Korea’s first astronaut in April 2008, on board a Russian-made Soyuz spaceship that successfully went into outer space. She conducted a 10-day mission on the International Space Station which was broadcast in real-time.

The scientist talks about her full life story — including her family and friends who have always supported her, her student life and past experiences. She says in her book that people should try a variety of things to discover what they are actually good at and believe that what people do matters more than where they are. The engineer is not afraid of failure thanks to her parents who let her try different things to gain experience when she was young. She now thinks that failure is like a vaccine that helps people become successful.

Born in 1978, Lee earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in Daejon in 2001 and 2002 respectively. In 2005, she received a doctorate in biological science also at KAIST.

Who makes the rules in the modern world?

Jeon Sung-won; Inmulgwa Sasang Publishing: 536 pp., 18,000 won

Contemporary man buys coke from a supermarket and watches movies or works out at the gym without giving such behavior much thought. This novel titled with a question, “Who makes the rules in the modern world?” begins by asking who created such an ordinary agenda. It unravels the history of culture and art in the 20th century through people’s behavior.

Jeon Sung-won, editor-in-chief of the quarterly magazine Hwanghae Munhwa, wrote a series of columns on the people who set up the foundation for the modern world for the monthly “Inmulgwa Sasang,” which means person and thoughts. The columns have been published as a book.

As a man who is full of knowledge on miscellaneous matters, Jeon talks about how geniuses changed human life from Henry Ford, the developer of the assembly line, and Sam Walton, who established the retail store chain Wal-Mart, to Akio Morita, the inventor of the Walkman, and Martha Stewart, who sells the fantasy of a happy home.

The author focuses on their impact on modern day life, instead of harping on about their individual achievements.

365-Day Classical Music Tour in Europe: From the Concertgebouw to the Bayreuth festival

Kim Sung-hyung: Art Books: 407 pp., 20,000 won

This is an introduction to some of the most exciting classical music festivals in Europe. The author, who writes for the Chosun Ilbo, spent a year touring around 21 European cities and 42 concert venues. He has previously translated books on renowned classical musicians like pianist-turned conductor Daniel Barenboim and Simon Rattle, the music director of the Berlin Philharmonic. It is a useful guide for many local classical music lovers wishing to get a glimpse of Europe’s classical music festivals.

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