Shin Seong-il; Munhaksegyesa; 360 pp; 13,500 won
When veteran actor Shin Seong-il published his biography, the media focused mostly on an extramarital affair that he disclosed for the first time.
The self-proclaimed "legend of Korean films" is a charismatic actor who dominated the industry in the 1960 and ‘70s.
As Korean movies are gaining more popularity abroad, this book, if translated into English, would serve as an interesting guide for foreigners on how the local film industry developed following the Korean War.
The 74-year-old gives a detailed account of his career as well as the directors and actors he worked with.
The Daegu native started his career with director Shin Sang-ok in "Romance Papa."
The name "seong-il" was actually given to the actor by Shin Sang-ok. It means "new rising star."
And rise he did, eventually becoming one of the most sought-after actors of his generation, working with the most popular actresses of the time, like Yun Jeong-hee, who now is married to Paris-based pianist Paik Gun-woo.
Having appeared in some 500 movies, Shin had a short-lived political career as a lawmaker and film producer.
Shin candidly admits he wasn't a born actor and was embarrassed by shortcomings in his acting technique at the beginning of his career. He credits strong will power and regular exercise as important keys to his longevity as an actor.
Encyclopedia of the Exquisite: An Anecdotal History of Elegant Delights
Jessica Kerwin Jenkins; translated from English to Korean by Im Gyeong-a; Ruby Box: 272 pp., 19,000 won
The color black, sunsets, the history of confetti, gelato recipes and “mouches” (fake beauty marks) as well as Yoko Ono and other great muses of the art world _ this uncanny encyclopedia, now available in Korean, provides a list of 100 beguiling entries on quotidian pleasures.
The author, a former editor for W and Women’s Wear Daily who now writes for Vogue magazine, takes readers on a whimsically journey through the different corners of art, fashion and style.
While people today may be better acquainted with Wikipedia and Naver power blogs for interesting scoops, anecdotes and trivia, this book, arranged alphabetically and filled with antique-style illustrations, offers a more nostalgic treasure trove of fancies such as how snails’ slime was used as an ingredient in Italian Renaissance-era faux jewelery or reflections on the simple pleasures of weekends and dining alfresco.
How Can Firms Acquire Top Performers?
Ga Jae-san; Sam & Parkers; 272 pp; 14,400
Excellence and mediocrity co-exist in all companies.
The title of this book is at the forefront of concerns of many CEOs and employers. Numerous books have been published on the subject.
As the year draws to a close, the question is at the heart of many people who seek to make their workplace more efficient and productive in the coming year.
The author, who spent 25 years at various Samsung subsidiaries, provides useful advice for employers and employees about nurturing themselves or becoming high performers in the workplace.
The book devotes a significant portion to describing how Samsung has been able to acquire top talents within and outside Korea.
He also refers to examples of effective personnel systems such as those adopted by global firms like GE, designed to upgrade high performers and improve the work of underachievers at the same time.
Joseon’s Class-Nine Government Officials: Petty yet Dignified
Kim In-ho; Neomeo Books: 319 pp., 16,500 won
It’s easy to find books, TV dramas and films featuring important figures that shaped the course of the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910). This book, however, sheds light on those standing on the sidelines of important state affairs.
Joseon Korea was dictated by a strict caste system and the court required the service of low-ranking officials and laymen for trivial tasks and physical, hands-on jobs.
The author, a history professor, examined the Annals of the Joseon Kingdom to introduce the roles of these “petty yet dignified” figures: “tongsa” or linguistic interpreters, “maeui” or vets in charge of treating horses, “suksu” or court chefs, court ladies and “sanwon” who were responsible for doing calculations and other mathematics-related tasks.
There were also those active outside the palace. Tigers were an omnipresent threat in Joseon. The wild animals are recorded to have appeared 937 times between 1392 and 1863 and 3,989 people suffered injuries as a result. “Chakhogapsa” were thus hired to regularly hunt tigers. This was important not only for people’s safety but for trade, since tiger hides were highly coveted.