The festival began in 2005 by the Wow Book Festival Organization Committee with the purpose of selling books outside of the stores and by the publishers themselves, who are most acquainted about the books. Every September the festival attracts 300,000 visitors to buy books and enjoy events.
This year, the festival is focusing on poet Kim Hae-gyeong, who is better known by his pen name, Yi Sang. Poet Yi Sang who lived through the early 1900s never received recognition as a poet during his lifetime. But in the 1970s, his works started to become increasingly famous in the public and as a result, the prestigious Yi Sang Literary Award was established in 1977. Yi has written many books before he passed away. However his writing style has received great criticism and praise at the same time,
“Yi’s books are criticized for their complicated meanings, but are gaining lots of fans today for his unconstrained and freewheeling style,” said Kim Hye-ram, the Public Relation Officer of Wow Book Festival,
For this reason, the Wow Book Festival has brought Yi as their festival’s focal point. The festival will start with Yi’s poems, and will have programs where visitors at all age can learn about Yi’s pieces and hold discussions. This year’s festival, which celebrates Yi’s 100 year anniversary, will be demonstrated with special guests and programs. Cho Young-nam, a famous Korean singer, is the hub host of the Book Concert, which is the first event organized for the celebration of Yi’s anniversary. Cho has recently published a book about Yi, which explains how he interpreted the works. At the concert he is expected to share how Yi was not appreciated by many people in Cho’s early days, and how the reputation changed.
The second program titled Visual Poem Exhibit 2, displays typography works of amateur and professional poets. Their typography was created in commemoration of the poet Yi, whose works cannot be explained fully with words. The last program will be Poem Review, where visitors can join, discuss and comment works of Yi.
“Since the works of Yi appear in exam questions for high school students, we created the program for youth who are willing to learn more about Yi,” Kim said.
Other than special programs related to Yi, Wow Book Festival holds the usual programs and events that it originally prepares annually in Hong-ik University areas; book exhibitions on streets, flee market for books, Reading Relay, meeting with amateur writers in nearby cafes, and a book donation program, Love Bookshelves.