The world has been doing its best to come together to prevent COVID-19 from spreading. Social distancing, our most potent countermeasure, has been effective but painful. Human interaction as we know it has ceased to exist as we abstain from sharing laughter and enjoyment with loved ones and holding hands or hugging one another. This lack of social connection has impacted many of our livelihoods. In the face of both emotional and financial strain, our lives have stopped.
At this juncture, the 2021 Seoul International Book Fair approaches. While vaccines and medical treatments are being developed at lightning speed, rapidly emerging one after the other, it is unclear what our next step will be. What punctuation can be used at this point? It may be one to terminate meaning or one to keep tempo as we continue reading. It may be a period to indicate a full stop or a comma that grants us temporary rest before we continue with our previous lives. Perhaps it is a colon that signals clarification about human existence, or a question mark to query the issues inherent in our lives.
We have yet to figure out what our next step after this pause will be. Hopefully we will recover our familiar routines, but, for many, it will be impossible to return to pre-pandemic life. This pause may inspire us to make fewer indelible marks on the planet as our current era, the Anthropocene, continues. The Seoul International Book Fair offers all of us, who have been rendered equal in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and who cannot survive without solidarity, food for thought as we consider the paths we will be able to take after the pandemic.
As much as we wish to convene for this event as we would before, the 2021 Seoul International Book Fair comes at a time of utmost caution and precaution. The desire to make this year’s fair bigger and better than those previous will have to wait another year. However, this year, publishers will meet with readers who have sought refuge in or are enduring these challenging times through books. The fair’s physical scale cannot be increased due to public health and safety measures, but it will still connect authors, readers, and publishers who have long wanted to meet. The online seminars and the Book-City-Stroll program tried last year will be expanded. Local writers will be at the venue to meet readers in person, and writers from around the world will meet with readers in Korea through online. At this year’s Seoul International Book Fair, let’s begin again and discover the new paths awaiting us at the end of this long pause, together.
Dates: 2021.09.08 – 09.12.
Location: S-Factory, Department A,D
Hosted by: Korean Publishing Association
Organized by: Seoul International Book Fair
Supported by: Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Korean Publishing Foundation, Publication Industry Promotion Agency of Korea