Inter-Korean Détente Drives Sales of Books on N.Korea

  • By Lee Haan-su

    June 21, 2018 11:46

    Books on North Korea are flying off shelves as relations with the country have come under increasing global attention in recent months.

    North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had two summits with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, which were followed by another summit with U.S. President Donald Trump last week in Singapore.

    Online bookstore Yes24 tallied up the sales of books on North Korea from the beginning of this year until June 17 at the request of the Chosun Ilbo, and the total figure was 31,670, up 714 percent on-year.

    At Kyobo Books, some 46,140 books on North Korea were sold from April 1 until Wednesday, about four times more than the usual average of 9,000 to 10,000.

    "We didn't notice anything different from previous years until March, but sales skyrocketed from April after the inter-Korean summit," a Kyobo Books staffer said.

    Books on North Korea are on display at Kyobo Book Center in Gwanghwamun, Seoul on Wednesday.

    The best-selling book is a memoir by Thae Yong-ho, the former No. 2 man in the North Korean Embassy in London who defected to South Korea in 2016. It sold 25,260 copies on Yes24 alone and is still among the top 10 bestsellers more than a month after its release.

    People in their forties were the biggest purchasers at 29.1 percent, followed by those in their thirties with 24.9 percent, 50-somethings with 22 percent and 60-somethings with 15.5 percent, according to Yes24.

    Men also seemed to be more interested as 30- and 40-something men accounted for 30.1 percent of the total buyers in the online bookstore compared to 23.9 percent for women of the same age group who otherwise constitute the most avid readers.

    "We expect sales of books on North Korea to continue to grow as North Korea is likely to stay in headlines," a Yes24 staffer said. 

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