How to Fail at Death as a Marketing Tool: The Case of Kim Moon-Soo

Death, to put it indelicately, has worked for artists before – re-emerging artists into the public eye, and re-invigorating sales of back titles. So while it was very sad to note the passing of Kim Moon-Soo on November 5th, the author of the very excellent Chronicles of Manchwidang, I hoped that some of the press surrounding his death (including coverage on Arirang’s Catch the Wave, on KBS, and here on KTLIT – just the publicity that I did) would result in a rise in sales.

And, lo and behold it’s numbers were historically high. Here are the historical numbers


  • 2,311,338 on my first measurement, which I did not date
  • 877,196 on 5/21/10
  • 3,288,015 on 10/27/10
  • 2,506,321 on 5/25/11

On November 17th, just two weeks after Kim’s death,  The Chronicles of Manchwidang had risen to #517,210 in Books, which is not awesome, but if one looks at the historical rankings of ALL the Jimoondang LTI/Korea (Portable Library of Korean Fiction) books, this is actually the SECOND HIGHEST RATING OBSERVED (observations on 5.21.10, 10.27.10, 5.25.11, and it looks like it is well past time for me to look again) for one of these books, being beaten out only once, and that by Kim Young-ha’s Photo Shop Murder, right around the time he had just released Your Republic is Calling You.

But the seeds of destruction were already sewn, for on the very day that Manchwidang was threatening to get into the top 500,000 books, the publishers had already committed a very public fail. A search for Manchwidang on Amazon, revealed this:

Manchwidang Fail

“Out of Stock?” Really? Thanks guys!

No problem… Kim’s numbers have plummeted back to earth (#1,401,525) and now there is one (ONE!) copy available.

I think the guys in Marketing and Distribution should go out for a well-deserved beer!^^