Borim Press: Making a picture book in Korea

My first picture book A Bit Lost was actually first published in Korean. I had met the excellent Borim Press at the Bologna Book Fair in 2007 and was blown away by their catalogue. I went over to visit them and ended up illustrating and making most of the book with them from Korea. Their set up is amazing so i thought i should post a bit about it.


The Borim Press office is in Paju Book City (above) which is a new development by the Korean government. Printing was actually invented in Korea more than two hundred years before Gutenberg ‘invented’ it and Korea has a long and proud history of printing and literacy. In order to promote and modernise the industry and put Korea on the worldwide publishing map they subsidised the setting up of Paju Book City. It was set up as a super high tech printing facility right next to all the top Korean Publishing houses. It is a very modern sustainable development built as a satellite town 30 mins from Seoul. It also has high tech looking wind generators (which never seem to be working? hmm…)
You can read more about it here. South Korea spends more of its GDP on education than almost any other country so the shiny educational buildings are a more common sight there than in Europe or the west.


The Borim office. The spaceship looking part is a children’s theatre. Inside their publishing house is a children’s theatre, a childrens picture book gallery (with waist high pictures) and a little childrens bookshop (with knee high tables). You can see better pics from their site. I was very honoured to be Borim’s first non-Korean author.


The lobby/reception. The ‘wavin’ looking pipes on the right i had originally thought were some weird Korean office communication device….but i was told it was a sculpture. You can still talk into them though if you want.


The childrens theatre. I saw a nursery rhyme gig one afternoon (in Korean) for an audience of 150 expecting mothers. It wasnt really my thing so I had to sneak out the back.


The next door office. All the big publishing offices in Seoul moved out to here to use the shared printing presses/conference hall/facilities etc.


The high tech printing facility next door.




This is where my book was printed!


Having a meal with the Borim team. Jinsuk (my Art Director) Sangon (Production Manger who i lived with for a month!) myself and Ines Yoo (my Editor and the person who first introduced me to Borim in Bologna)


Jinsuk my art director in the best jumper I’ve ever seen… Happy Pig!!! YAY!!!!


The CEO of Borim Mr Kwon and his wife outside their beautiful home. They have a traditional stone ondol system in their newly built home which was also built by a mixture of traditional Korean and modern sustainable methods. They are a really interesting couple, Mrs Kwon is a traditional Korean musician (drummer)


I managed to stay for week with Mr Kwon and his family. In Korea everyone sleeps directly on the floor (the underfloor heating is pretty nice in winter and makes it hard to get out of bed…) The book is taking three times as long as i thought it would. Thats probably why im not smiling in the picture. Oh dear. I blamed it on the ondol. Check out the Kimchi pots outside the window. He collects them, there were a LOT of them.


Finally finished after 10 and a half months! Woo hoo!
Myself, Mr Park, Borim’s editor in chief and Sang Me who did all the translation.


감사합니다 to everyone at Borim!!!!

If you are interested in seeing more of Borim Press and their outstanding books and illustrations take a look at their site. Its in Korean so its kind of hard to navigate but you could requst a PDF catalogue by email.


  1. gilgul 10 August, 2010 at 19:36 - Reply

    super cool thanks for sharing this Mr. Chris! I’ve heard the stories, but nice to see photos of the actual space. Glad you’re updating this blog! keep it up.

  2. MariaTamburri 25 January, 2012 at 18:52 - Reply

    Great book Chris,They love it so much here in Holland. I took my daughter first to a children theater play of it, then to the library where they had to read it over and over again because kids just loved it. Then bought ithe big version book with little toy owl and today could not resist the small book version with cd. Simply brilliant. Well done!Please keep us posted on your next "baby" We all waiting here in Amsterdam :))

  3. Anonymous 11 May, 2012 at 08:50 - Reply

    thanks so much maria. im sorry i only saw this message now! so glad they enjoyed it!! i visited amsterdam in january for voorleesdagen and i was blown away by the events. i could never have imagined the scale of it, so wonderful, i wrote a bit about it here je wel!

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