A Story of Books Becoming a Mountain

25 Children's Book and Magazine Covers from Korea, 1940s and 50s


The covers and text in this post come from the hard-to-find book Bound Treasures: Graphic Art in Korean Children's Books of the Mid-20th Century by Lee Ho Baek and Jeong Byung-kyu. It was published in 2009 by The National Library for Children and Young Adults and the Art Center for Children's Books at Paju Book City. It seems not many copies made it to the US.


Yesterday's post featured Korean covers from the sixties.



1955, A New Day Has Dawned (children's songs), edited by Im Seok-jae
Illustrations by Jang Uk-jin

"Two children's poetry books by Im Seok-jae, a poet and expert on Korean traditional folk tales, were illustrated by Jang Uk-jin, one of modern Korea's leading artists. The 1950s was considered the pinnacle of children's poetry publishing due to the proliferation of such volumes at the time. Poets were known to select their partner artists with utmost care." (Lee Ho Baek and Jeong Byung-kyu)



1959, Let's Plant Seeds!, Im Seok-jae
Illustrations by Jang Uk-jin





1953, This War That I Went Through
Illustrations by Kim Yong-hwan





1958, The Light of the Silk Lantern





1954, The Land in the Forest
Cover by Kim Yeong-ju





1947, Our Songs, Grimdongsan Series 5

"Grimdongsan represented the first attempt by Korean's publishers to create a full-color children's picture book. Poetry and inspirational paintings drawn by working artists were laid out across two-page spreads. Eulyu-munhwasa Publishers used saddle stitching to bind together the volume." (Lee Ho Baek and Jeong Byung-kyu)


1947, Our Songs, Grimdongsan Series 5
Illustration by Jeong Hyeon-ung





November 1949 issue of Jindallae (Rhododendron)
Cover by Im Dong-eun

"Jindallae was published during the brief window between the liberation and the Korean War. During the span of those few issues, however, its editors experimented with graphics in different ways. Eye-catching cover paintings were produced by Im Dong-eun, Yi Kwae-dae, and other talented artists." (Lee Ho Baek and Jeong Byung-kyu)



March (l) and April (r) 1949 issues of Eorini-nara (Land of Children)
Cover by Park Seong-gyu (l) and Ji Yung (r)

"Eorini-nara, whose editorial department nearly mimicked Jindallae's, was known for scouting more artists than its rivals. Many of the artists who worked for Eorini-nara and other postwar periodicals... later pursued careers as professional illustrators and cartoonists." (Lee Ho Baek and Jeong Byung-kyu)


September (l) and October (r) 1949 issues of Eorini-nara (Land of Children)
Cover by Baek Yeong-su (l) and Im Dong-eun (r)





1957, The Flower Garden
Illustrations by Kim Yeong-ju and Kim Tae-hyeong






1952, Sonyeon-segye (World of Youth), inaugural issue
Cover by Byeon Jong-ha

"Published during the Korean War... As a comprehensive youth magazine, [Sonyeon-segye] included a wide variety and large amount of material, which made it quite thick. With its skillfully edited horizontal type and abundance of illustrations, the magazine became the prototype for commercial children's magazines that followed." (Lee Ho Baek and Jeong Byung-kyu)




March 1953 issue of Sonyeon-segye (World of Youth)
Cover by Baek Yeong-su





1955, World's Best Children's Stories
Illustrations by Jeon Sang-beom





1959 (l) The Times We Caught Sparrows / 1955 (r), Song of May

"To survive during impoverished times, some publishers reused the same printing plates to produce an entire serial or series, and only changed color." (Lee Ho Baek and Jeong Byung-kyu)



1958, A Grain of Sand Called Gogeum
Cover by Yi Jung-seop





1958, A Story of Books Becoming a Mountain
Cover by Baek Yeong-su





1959, Lonely Jjambo
Cover by Yi Ju-hong





1947, The Three Rabbit Brothers
Illustrations by Gil Jin-seop





1959, A Flower Garden Filled with Song
Illustrations by Mun Chang-gil and Nam Sang-tak





1956, Footsteps (Biographies of Great People)





"Kidari-ajeossi (Daddy Long-legs)
Collection of the world's celebrated children's stories, translated by Yi Yeong-cheol

"Yi Yeong-cheol is an important name in the history of Korean children's books. A man of wide-ranging talents, he wrote storybooks while also adapting children's literature from abroad for Korean readers. The Geulbeotjip publishing house was founded by Yi in the late 1940s and continued through the 1960s to introduce youngsters to foreign literature along with publicizing the works of Korean writers." (Lee Ho Baek and Jeong Byung-kyu)



1958, A Doll's Dream
Cover by Baek Yeong-su





1949, The Day Spring Comes
Cover by Im Dong-eun




1958, The Reed Leaf Flute
Cover by Yi Chung-geun



More: The Train That Ate Flowers: Korean covers from the sixties.