This is kind of sad… shopping at What the Book (the most well-known new and used English bookstore in Korea) with my friend from the 10 Magazine book club an he notes that the number of NEW Korean titles (fiction that is) has shrunk dramatically.
I go over to the used section and the same story is true, it is so patchy that books are being presented full-cover (not by spine) and even then you can see through to the back of some of the shelves…. Not to mention that five rows have been reduced to a paltry three, and are primarily books about China and Japan.
Why is this?
Because WTB has a new policy (Added note: WTB says these policies have been in place for years, but clearly they are only now being completely enforced, as my library of books bought from WTB amply demonstrates) for buying used books that pretty much excludes any decent work of translated Korean fiction.
1) No Korean publishers.…. POW! There goes at least half of all Korean translated literature.
2) No library books … POW! There goes all the academic translations that were originally intended for libraries or used in USAF libraries overseas (particularly here in Korea)
3) ISBN numbers much match… POW, there goes anything published without and ISBN number (a surprisingly large number of early publications and self-publications).
You really couldn’t devise a cleverer plan to drive Korean translations out of What the Book (additional note – the implication here being IF you tried, not that WTB did), or as I shall now refer to it, WTF?