2020 Participants

Hye-Ji Jeong

Past Program / 2020 Program / Hye-Ji Jeong


NameHye-Ji Jeong
PublishersThinking Power Books
Following the motto of the scientist, Alexander von Humboldt, “The world, the nature, we are all connected”, we, Thinking Power Books publish quality books in sociology, politics, economics, history, philosophy and science to contribute for making sound social discourse. Thinking Power Books was established in 2012 and it has published about 120 titles. One of our representative books is . Another is , written by a teacher of a male high school. He says men also have to be feminists in the Korean society. And this very recently published one, . It gets to the core of inequality that young people in their 20s are experiencing in the Korean society.


Longer, Deeper, More Willingly and Even More Passionately

COVID-19 broke the beliefs that we have been keeping so far. Economic activities shrunk and daily lives were torn into pieces by small cracks Not only us. The western countries, the world’s wannabes, collapsed from a sudden virus attack. Each society exposed its own problems buried beneath. Problems including poverty, immigration, race, discrimination, and aging society interconnected with the virus outbreak, and resulted in various conflicts and sacrifices. Limitations of the scientific technology became also apparent. Vaccines or medicines for a new type of virus have not been yet produced.At this moment in time, it is a real paradox that the most effective way of preventing the virus is keeping “social distancing“ together with a small “mask” on the face! However, there is a fact that stays unchanged even in a such sadly and severely changing world. That is “reading is safe” From now on I would like to share with you a simple and beautiful point. COVID-19 tells us that we have been too close to each other so far. It was so between people and people, and between people and place. So people avoided going to places where people gathered. People cancelled or postponed the meetings, dining outs and traveling without any promise of return. People stayed at home only except for going to work, buying daily necessities or going to doctors. Unlike many other countries, Koreans did not experience forced movement restrictions by lockdown.

However, people kept social distancing with own free will, and many planned things were stopped or postponed. It was the same for the publishing industry. It was so natural that people stopped going to bookstores where have been always crowded. Libraries were closed. Many publishers were embarrassed. Monthly publication schedules had been all set, and we also needed many steps moving together and supporting each other in order to make a book published. We thought and thought over… “is it okay to publish books in this time?” However, as time went by, the blurred and hazy situation was getting clear little by little. It was obvious that we could not go back to normal any more, and people started to fit themselves into new normal. But there has been always a “book,” the most familiar and the most practiced tool for people, in these all unfamiliar and unpracticed changes. Instead of selecting books by thumbing through the pages at the bookstores, people started strolling down and putting books into the shopping cart by clicking at the online bookstores. Then the following day, the purchased book was delivered without fail, this simple procedure made people come back to books. After having enjoyed the printed books, readers were interlinked again on Instagram or YouTube by hashtags. Even though they did not have direct contacts, they still exchanged warm and detailed book reviews there. Previously, once books were published, publishers used to conduct the field marketing such meeting authors or book display stand advertising, but now they diverted their attention to the promotions and contents production online. They started offering a chance of communication more active and borderless through online platforms like Instagram or YouTube. They made short clips to upload and opened a live chat online. Thanks to this, readers could gained a chance to participate with ease and safety, over physical limitations. Meanwhile, in terms of book planning, so many books talking about the COVID-19 and about the time after the COVID-19 poured out to the book market. A book having a discourse on new eras always catch readers’ eyes. It was quite the same for the COVID-19 as well. Perhaps people were less patient for analysis and perspectives as we were actually experiencing the changes directly. Since this is the ongoing matter, there is no such a “correct answer” for this. A new era has begun with a bang, regardless of our intention. So then, we have to take a close look at it. We have to take a close look at where we are standing on and where we are heading for. And we have to keep looking as this situation will last for some time. We also may have to work hard to take a close look at even after “the after COVID-19”. I have been talking mainly about positive impacts by the COVID-19 so far, however, there are negative impacts without a doubt. In fact, so many publishers and bookstores had passed through a dark tunnel. It was because not everyone was good at direct responding online. Smaller publishers or local bookstores were having limitations in terms of capital or system, and had difficulties in transforming the risk into a chance. On that account, many local governments including Seoul provided support to local bookstores by buying them books. And they are also trying to make other types of supports by building a selling platform or sponsoring “book clubs online.”

“Reading is safe”, I mentioned earlier. In this time we have been apart from many things, but there is one thing that we are getting closer. It could be old stuff but it is true that reading has been contributing to keep our mentality safe from long ago. And now it is making an even greater contribution to keep our health safe than anything else. The novelist, Jeong You-jeong said as follows. “Reading is the most intelligent and the most active action as well as the flight simulation for survival.” Many other businesses have to find a new way out in this new era. It must be a truly painful and costly time. Fortunately, publishing industry in Korea has no need to change its direction. Rather, publishers gained more reasons to focus more on the core of books than before..

It means publishers have to think harder as producers, to make readers keep on this safe action with pleasure. To make them keep on reading longer, deeper, more willingly and even more passionately! We have been keeping a belief that “books will survive” in any circumstances. Of course we were not always worry free. The new future might eat books up at any time and wipe its mouth pretending not to have eaten, we were afraid. Something new might substitute books as if it was so from the very first, we were afraid. However, it was confirmed that books were still thriving even in the time of rapidly changing world covered with a virus. A non-face-to-face society does not mean breaking a link. We might gain even more comfort and pleasure from deeper and more firm networking in this time. So let’s strengthen our sense of duty as publishers than before. Only with a bit more sense of duty, let’s touch readers more in this limited world. Because that is the core of publishing.




Patrimonial Middle Class Society
Cho Gwi-dong /
Thinking Power Book

graceful and superb female soccer
Kim Hon-bi / 

The story of imguejang
Cho Jeong-jin / 

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