Changbi Publishers, Inc., also known simply as “Changbi,” is a publishing house that represents the finest critical, intellectual, and cultural thought in South Korea and other countries. Since the founding of the Quarterly Changbi (“changbi” means “Creation and Criticism” in Korean) in 1966 and the first publication of books in 1974, Changbi has published original works in a wide array of fields, from literature and the humanities to social sciences and literary works for young people. Having published more than 3,000 unique titles, it continues to bring out seminal contemporary and classical works, both in Korean and translated from foreign languages, thereby continuing its reputation as a publishing house that is trusted by its readers in South Korea and beyond.
Its original publication, Quarterly Changbi, which came out in January 1966, immediately attracted wide attention from South Korean readers, with its timely focusing and quality contents. Begun in 1974, the publication of our single titles followed closely the anti-dictatorship democratization movements then active in South Korea. The publication encompassed literary works by noted writers, such as Shin Kyung-rim, Hwang Sok-yong, and Ko Un, and works in the humanities with acute insights into many aspects of social reality by such leading intellectuals as Lee Young-hee, Kang Man-gil, and Paik Nak-chung. The deeply moving works published by Changbi, with their inclusion of new knowledge, voices of honest criticism, and reflections on everyday reality, have garnered both critical acclaim and popular allegiance.
Under a military dictatorship in the 1970s and 1980s, Changbi was subjected to violent oppression, including the forced discontinuation of its quarterly and the revocation of its registration as a publishing house. Nevertheless, it was empowered by continued strong support from a broad spectrum in South Korean society and, in the end, was able to arise even stronger. Encompassing both poetry and prose fiction, the literary works published by Changbi have played a key role in South Korean literature for more than 45 years, by the process of discovering and disseminating outstanding writers.
In the 1990s, Changbi also introduced new authors and their works, including epochal bestsellers, such as Dong’euibogam: A Novel (or Marvelous Korean Doctor Heo Jun: A Novel), My Exploration of Cultural Heritage, and A Taxi Driver in Paris. Thus it acquired renown as a dynamic publisher that recognized significant new talent. The fervent responses of South Korean readers to Dong’euibogam: A Novel and My Exploration of Cultural Heritage were based on their meticulous and original rediscovery of Korean traditions from today’s perspective. In particular, Professor Yu Hong-june’s My Exploration of Cultural Heritage is an unprecedented example of in-depth work in the humanities; it not only won public acclaim, but also led to an important cultural trend in the 1990s, sparking a nationwide interest in Korea cultural heritage.
Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2016, the Quarterly Changbi has been striving to be a leader of in-depth critical analyses of South Korean society, presenting progressive alternatives, while also exploring the possibilities of transnational solidarity in East Asia. Indeed, the efforts to forge a new civilization by renowned scholars, including Fredric Jameson, Immanuel Wallerstein, Edward E. Said, and Arif Dirlik, to name just a few, were introduced to South Korea through Changbi. In addition, Changbi has expanded its already-flourishing publication of children’s books into the area of young-adult literature, and in the process has discovered talented South Korean authors of children’s and YA literature and introduced them to the world.
Reflecting changes in Korean society, Changbi also continues to publish works by young writers with new sensibilities, as well as by mainstream writers with international renown. In this 21st-century of knowledge, information, and culture, Changbi will stand steadfastly with its readers, as a trove of knowledge and wisdom that can lead to new paths of thought and action, by keeping readers informed of current intellectual and cultural trends throughout the world.
In addition, Changbi has entered into the field of educational publishing in the 2000s. In line with new curricula and changes in the learning environment of students, Changbi has revolutionized Korean and literature textbooks and other educational materials. Since 2014, Changbi Education, established as an independent corporation, has been publishing various books related to the education field. This new venture was followed by the establishment of the Changbi School in 2016, which offers on-site classes for the general public in the humanities and literature. In 2019, Changbi also opened the Changbiedu Educational Institute, offering online training for teachers.
In 2009, Changbi also established the subsidiary Media Changbi, which produces digital contents, including audiobooks, e-books, and mobile apps. In 2017, Media Changbi also launched an original curated poetry service app, Siyoil, which has met with enthusiastic responses from the younger generation of Korean poetry lovers.