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Korean Bookfair

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Korean Bookfair

Report by Kathleen Swadling

The Foundation attended the Seoul International Bookfair in Korea this month, which was a great success. The interest in The Urantia Book shown by the Koreans was impressive. They seem to be ready for and receptive to this message.

Foundation representatives who attended were Kwan Choi and his wife, Kathy, Richard Keeler, and myself. This was a new experience for the two Trustees who have never spent days manning a book booth before. It was a delight to see Kwan and Kathy enthusiastically talking to their fellow countrymen and women about this remarkable book. Kwan, being a professor (which we made sure was indicated on his name badge), received instant respect and quickly captured the interest of inquisitive passers by. Kathy has a particular talent for striking up conversations with people wherever she goes—be it standing in a bathroom queue or riding in a taxi. While I could not understand the language, I could tell by the expressions and body language that Kathy managed to capture their attention, and by the end of the conversation they were exchanging names and phone numbers and she was writing down the name of The Urantia Book with a phone number of readers in Korea to contact!

A draft copy of the Korean translation was on display and as many Koreans speak English, the English editions were browsed through at length. Over 8,000 brochures were handed out over the six days. The brochures gave a brief description of the book, with information about the soon to be published Korean translation, as well as ordering details and information about a 40% discount book fair sales special.

Several contacts were made with book distributors and large book stores, and we left books with them for their assessment. Unfortunately the recent Asian financial crisis has hit the book industry quite hard. The two major book distributors, who distributed 85% of books in Korea, went bankrupt so consequently the industry is undergoing a major reorganization. Trade representation at the fair was also a disappointment with only half the amount of space utilized as last year. However our objective for this year was to plant the seeds and make people aware that the translation would be ready for next year. Hopefully the industry will have picked up and we'll have outlets for distribution.

The highlight of the visit was the contact we made with Korean readers. There is already a study group in Seoul with readers eager to serve, while chaffing at the bit for the entire book in their language. Unfortunately they have only had access to an unauthorized translation of Parts 3 and 4 that the Fellowship delivered to them last year. Part 4 was being published and sold by local readers under the direction of the Fellowship. The Fellowship directed them to cease publication when the Foundation won the appeal, but the seeds for confusion have already been sown. However, we were able to discuss the situation with them and we hope that once they have the new translation they will be able to assist us in the ongoing revision process. They seem eager to work with the Foundation so we hope for a spirit of cooperation with them despite the fact that the Fellowship are continuing to work on their alternate Korean translation.