Science Comic Book Series Sets Record
By Chung Ah-young
``Why?'' the Korean science comic book series that saw 20 million copies sold over the last six years, set a new record in the local publishing industry.
As the representative book published by the YeaRimDang, the local publisher specializing in children's books, the series paved the way for comic books to become a successful learning tool.
``People don't think cartoons and studying go well together. So we tried to gather the most accurate information and knowledge as possible to deliver facts that can be helpful for children and pique their curiosity and interest,'' Cho Young-sun, the cartoonist of the series, said.
This is the first time for a local publisher to sell over 20 million copies in publishing history after surpassing 10 million copies in June 2007. In comparison, as of December, about 15 million copies of ``Samgukji'' (Romance of the Three Kingdoms) by Yi Mun-yeol and 13 million copies of the ``Harry Potter'' series have been sold.
The 50-volume science comic books are aimed at kindergarten children and elementary school students but also appeal to their parents.
The series deal with various educational themes ― from plants, earth, computers, dinosaurs, chemistry, information and communications and blood types ― mixed with interesting and eye-catching illustrations.
It was first published with a Korean title in 10 volumes in 1989, becoming a steady seller with one million copies sold by 1998. But the company thought that to keep up with the fast-changing publishing trend, the series should be upgraded. So it changed it into the English title, ``Why?'' in 2001, eyeing the overseas markets after the three years of research.
The first book in the series, themed ``Outerspace,'' was published in 2001 and the 50th and final book, ``Scientific Events,'' was introduced to the public in January.
``I think our country doesn't have the edge over other neighboring countries such as Japan and China. To survive in this hot competition era, we should compete with them with creative ideas. Only the creative ideas can give us a strong competitive edge,'' Na Choon-ho, the president of the publishing company said in an event to celebrate selling 20 million copies of the series in a Seoul hotel, Tuesday.
The copyright of the series has been sold to China, Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, Russia and France through various international book fairs. The number of the copies published in other countries has surpassed more than 1.3 million. Currently, the company is negotiating with the United States and Japan to export the copyright to publish the series there.
The company will donate books published by YeaRimDang worth of 500 million won to some 512 schools located in economically underprivileged regions.
``We want to help many children cultivate their dreams and hopes in poor circumstances as part of the efforts to give back the support from our readers to them,'' Na said.
The comic book series will be shown as a television animation, which will air from Feb. 23 at 5:35 p.m. every Monday and Tuesday on EBS. The animation version consists of 26 episodes.
The company will open an experience exhibition hall of ``Why?'' in July and run it for 10 months to help children get closer to science and nature.
The series will expand its horizons from nature and science to human studies ― Korean history and world history in the following series.
YeaRimDang was established in 1973, and since then the company has continued to publish books that cultivate children's knowledge of liberal arts and classics, culture and sensibility by publishing books on a wide variety of subjects, including nature, cultural education, science, learning, literature, and cartoons that help to learn including Korea's first creative fairy tale book series.