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Comics Teach Professional Knowledge

Posted May. 29, 2006 03:00,   


Hwang Sun-young, a 28-years-old insurance company employee, is reading “Marketing: A complete guide in pictures” for the third time.

Hwang majored in public administration at college, and after joining his company in October 2004, he has been working in marketing. In order to learn about his field, he searched through many marketing books, but it was not easy.

However, a colleague of his recommended this book to him early this month, and since then he has been completely absorbed into it.

He commented, “It is easy to understand because the pictures show the specific execution method. It is also helpful when giving presentations, because I can refer to tables in the book, which I keep next to me.”

Recently there has been plethora of picture books and comics aimed at adults that explain professional knowledge of all fields. It is an attempt by publishers to overcome sluggish business and grab the attention of the visual generation.

Slumping Book Business Searches for a Way Out—

In order to overcome the persistent slumping business, publishers have started publishing picture books for adults since the late 1990s. At first, such books were concentrated mainly in Korean and World history, but now the subject dealt has diversified into investment, driving, marketing, automobile repair, and the Excel program.

The picture book, “Mayo’s Happy Cook,” written by Jeong Yun-hee, published in November of last year, and beauty book, “Beauty Mania,” authored by Moyoco Anno, published in January of this year, are receiving positive reviews by readers.

Author Lee Hyeon-woo, 26, who in February of this year authored the picture book on real estate auctioning titled “Rookie Manager Park Buys House and Earns Money Through Real Estate Auctioning,” said that about 500 books were sold weekly.

Duksung Women’s University Professor Rhie Won-bok forecasted, “Those below their mid 40s grew up reading comic magazines such as Saesonyeon (New Boy) and Bomulseom (Treasure Island). The market for instructive comics aimed at adults will continue to expand.”

Interesting, but Lightness is a Problem—

One of the strong points of comics and picture books is that difficult contents can be read easily without boredom.

The book series titled “One Night Knowledge Trip” explains expert field of human studies through comics, and has sold over 150,000 copies so far.

A 22-year-old College student Jeong Eun-hye said, “Out of the knowledge trip series I read the one about anthropology and despite being a tough subject, I read it with more ease than expected. In two hours I could grasp the basic concept.” For such features of comics and picture books, many books are adopting such elements.

Nevertheless, unlike foreign picture books that are made after years of pondering, many Korean books are published in haste after improvising for two to three months.

The author of history comic, “Crusader Story,” Kim Tae-kwon, 31, said, “It took me three years just to publish two books, and I read over 150 reference books. An atmosphere that acknowledges worthy comics is required.”

Others point out that comics and picture books drive adults away from books. Park Woo-geun, 23, who read an introductory textbook on genetics study in pictures, said, “After knowing the basics through comics, honestly, I don’t feel like reading a thick book.”

Yonsei University Professor Jeong Hee-mo, who has taught reading and writing to college students for 15 years, expressed his concerns: “Although comics can facilitate understanding, it might also damage the rich imagination and contemplation that comes from reading the language.”