Image: Cover of the English edition of Kim Ji-young, Born 1982. Credit: Liveright.
According a September 10 report by Chosun Ilbo 조선일보, only two Korean novels - Kim Ji-young, Born 1982 82년생 김지영 by Jo Nam-ju 조남주 and Ten Thousand Miles in the Jungle 정글만리 by Jo Jeong-rae 조정래 - sold more than a million copies in the 2010s, a significant and steady decline from the 1990s (17 million-selling titles) and 2000s (10 million-selling titles.)
The overall market for fiction is shrinking: in 2020, South Korea’s publishing market on the whole sold 12.6m copies of fiction, a 9.8% decline compared to the previous year.
On the other hand, the market for eBooks remains small but is growing quickly. In 2019, South Korea’s eBook sales were 11% of paper books; however, sales of eBooks grew by 55% in 2020 relative to the previous year.