Check out the bestsellers in any bookstore in Korea and you will find that the majority of books on display are publications on “healing.” Books including messages from animated characters, as well as journals, and personal essays, bring comfort to readers seeking sanctuary from the real world. According to the data collected by Interpark, one of Korea’s most popular online shopping and ticketing platforms, sales of healing books and essays have increased by approximately 171 percent compared to last year. Furthermore, 70 percent of the top 10 best sellers in the first half of 2018 were healing books.
A healing book is a book that provides emotional security by reviving a person psychologically. One of the most bestselling healing books is A.A.Milne’s Winnie the Pooh, originally published in 1926, which the publisher RHK company has recreated this year by extracting soothing quotes with colorful illustrations from the original publication. The healing book Winnie the Pooh is currently ranked second place on Interpark’s vote for this year’s best publication.
RHK company’s healing books to soothe the modern soul
Choi Kyung-min, a senior associate of RHK company’s planning and publishing team, explained the draw of healing books in Korea and how Winnie the Pooh has become one of this year’s bestsellers. The healing book "Winnie the Pooh, Happy Things are Always Here" is filled with heart-stirring illustrations and hopeful messages that are reminiscent of childhood. By reading about the character Pooh who is always relaxed and contemplative regardless of his situation, the book reminds readers to seek happiness in their daily lives.
The Korean media has mentioned that young people craving for healing and comfort may be partly due to severe unemployment and individualistic nature of our society, in which interpersonal interactions are limited. Why do you think healing books are popular?
Previously, bestselling books were often on self-improvement, which provide knowhow on achieving success and wealth. However, following this trend, there has been an increasing number of books sharing cozy messages. This indicates a change in our perceptions in society. During the time of Korea’s rapid development, people believed that success was guaranteed with effort. Unfortunately, there is a prevailing realization of how challenging it is to guarantee a secure livelihood no matter how hard one works nowadays, because of the different economic outlook. Based on this gloomy situation, this generation is seeking small doses of happiness. The draw of healing books can be seen as part of a desire for comfort. I believe that this difference over time in what people regard as important has determined the popularity of healing books.
In October, the Disney movie “Christopher Robin” was released in Korea. This has sparked high interest in Winnie the Pooh among people in Korea. What do you think is an attractive characteristic of Pooh who provides comfort to both the audience and readers?
Winnie the Pooh is a character who loves honey, friends, and his everyday life. He has the ability to easily overcome any situation and to find happiness in trifling things. Based on Pooh’s unconditional positivity and his relaxed smile in the film and book, he appears as a comforting friend to readers and viewers, making him a loving and charming character.
The healing book Winnie the Pooh, Happy Things are Always Here features a lot of provoking and colorful illustrations and quotes. Based on the publication’s format, visual factors may play a role in its appeal to readers. How did you decide upon the color and the design of the book?
From the beginning of the publications’ process, our designers and marketers discussed what would be the ideal format to attract readers. Brainstorming various ideas for the composition of the book, some of the suggestions were making the book conveniently small in size, putting a large Pooh on the cover, and designing a book that is ideal for presenting as a gift to others.
How would you define the trend of healing books?
I believe that there is an essential thought of “I want to be happy” behind picking out any healing book, and a desire for selfcare. Healing books offer a guide for finding satisfaction in life. In this aspect, if the reader has found a moment of genuine happiness by reading a healing book, the publication has successfully played its role in reviving weary readers.