Changbi Publishers, Inc., which represents critical writers and intellectuals in South Korea, began operations in 1966 with the founding of The Quarterly Changbi (Creation and Criticism). The company has published more than 1,500 titles, including works of poetry, fiction, history, the humanities and social sciences, and children’s books, both by Korean authors and foreign writers in translation.
In the 1970s and 80s, Changbi frequently offended the military regimes because of its oppositional stance, and faced many difficulties including bans on certain important books and the closure of the journal from 1980 to early 1988. Furthermore, for nearly one year, the publishing house itself was shut down. Authors, publishers, and editors were arrested or brought to trial several times, some suffering conviction and even imprisonment.
While Changbi was being harassed by the authorities, the Korean intellectual community continued to look to it as a central cultural organ of the movements for democracy and national reunification. Theories about the system of Korea’s division and about ‘national literature’ have been expounded by many authors through the journal, especially by the editor Paik Nak-chung. Debates on this and other important topics have had a great influence on intellectuals and activists in South Korea.
Since the 1990s, Changbi has been making great efforts not only to cope with the division of the Korean peninsula, but also to search for alternative ideas in the context of the world capitalist system. Lately, Changbi has enlarged its readership by publishing a variety of quality, critically acclaimed steady-sellers. In commemoration of the 30th anniversary of The Quarterly Changbi in 1996, the company hosted a highly publicized and well-attended party for writers, readers and eminent guests in February, and held an international conference in April entitled “Toward a New Global Civilization”. In 1998, in conjunction with the publication of serial No. 100 of The Quarterly Changbi, the company held a conference entitled “Our Tasks in the IMF Era and the Search for New Civilization at the End of the Century”, which was well received by both participants and the press.
In the 21st century, Changbi is expanding its dual role as a producer of outstanding books that aim to cultivate readers and as a knowledge base that will contribute to the transformation of human civilization. With our wide range of carefully selected publications of children’s books that foster the dreams and sensibilities of youngsters who represent the future of this country to inspiring literary works and works by distinguished scholars at home and abroad that endeavor to create a new civilization, we at Changbi will continue to reciprocate our readers’ ongoing devotion and support.