Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award
Astrid Lindgren is one of Sweden’s most important authors. To honour her memory and to promote interest in children’s and young adult literature around the world, the Swedish government founded an international award in her name, the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award is presented every year. The award is presented to authors, illustrators, oral storytellers and reading promoters. The award may be presented to a single laureate or to several, regardless of language or nationality. KBBY has recommended Korean writers and illustrators since 2012, and Baek Heena is the 2020 laureate.
Kim Jung Mi
Kim Jung Mi is a prominent Korean writer who has been consistently writing works that warmly embrace the socially marginalized. Her works realistically depict and reveal the world of marginalized persons. Kim directly confronts the desperate needs and hardships of the disadvantaged persons. These persons, all with individual deprivations and scars, form a community of their own and manage to carry on though exchanging wounds in the process. Kim delicately captures the various problems that arise from social marginalization and their influences on the lives of children. Her narratives follow the perspectives of the children and reveal their inner strength to display endurance and resilience, innocently running around and playing without confining themselves to the bitter realities of poverty and marginalization.
Also in actual life, Kim is dedicated to socially marginalized children, spending much time with them. She moved to the district of Manseok-dong in the city of Incheon in 1987 in conjunction with the social movement of reduce urban poverty led by the Catholic community. She established a gongbubang (literally, “study room”) for local children. She has been running this childcare center ever since. Over the course of its history of more than thirty years, the center has become a home for many children. Kim’s oeuvre has developed hand-in-hand with her living experiences with the children at the center.
The keywords that best represent Kim Jung Mi are community and solidarity. She has been at the forefront to empowering the community of socially disadvantaged and marginalized, and has embedded these efforts in her literary works, artistically depicting the lives of these people in works for children. Kim’s literary works embody her encounters with various socially marginalized groups including troubled youth, farmers, multiracial people, people with disabilities, migrants, and most recently, animals.
Promoter of Reading
Lee Juyoung was deeply inspired by Baekbeom Kim Koo and his book Baekbeom Ilji. Kim Koo had been dedicated to the liberation of Korea from Japanese Rule. When he joined the liberation cause, Kim Koo realized that education is a driving force in creating freedom and democracy within a country, as well as encouraging a greater prosperity throughout the world. Lee committed himself to the pursuit of education and entered Chuncheon National University of Education, as a prospective elementary school teacher.
During Lee’s youth, there was a great struggle for democracy. This was evidenced by the following demonstrations: the National League of Democratic Youth Students’ Rally(1974), Bu-Ma Democratic Protests (1979), the Seoul Spring (1980), May 18 Democratic Uprising (1980), June Democratic Uprising (1987), the Sewol Ferry Protest and Candlelight Struggle (2016 -2017). Lee was at the forefront of most of these movements.
Lee joined the Seoul Good Book Cooperative Federation in 1978 and participated in its civic reading campaign. Seoul Good Book Cooperative Federation had about ten reading clubs with 10 to 20 members respectively. Lee was active in the ‘Contemporary History Reading Club’ whose members were mostly teachers of elementary and secondary schools. The year 1979 was appointed as ‘The Year of Children Around the World’ by the UN, so Lee suggested to the Seoul Good Book Cooperative Federation that they start an initiative for children. This ended up as the ‘Children’s Culture Research Group,’ which later changed into ‘Children’s Reading Research Group,’ and further developed into ‘Korean Children’s Book Association.’ This initiated a series of big campaigns for children’s reading, which further evolved into the ‘Children’s Culture Network,’ a network of various organizations and groups.
Children’s Reading Research Group established reading lists for children and organized lectures for parents and teachers who were concerned with children’s reading education and its promotion. On Children’s Day in 1980, the Group hired the Promotional Pavilion at the City Hall Subway Station and held an exhibition of children’s books and a temporary bookstore. Lee was active in various activities in these functions to promote children’s reading culture movement.
The illustrator Lee Uk-bae was born in Yongin in 1960. Nature in the countryside became the source of inspiration for him over time while he spent a happy childhood as a playful boy. He majored in sculpture in college, and the early 1980s saw heated democratic protests throughout the society and all around the campus. It was when peoples art emerged as progressive artists got together and started to ponder over artist’s role in society. When Lee Uk-bae watched professors tear down senior students’ works of art that addressed the Gwangju Democratic Uprising, he developed a covenant with joint signatures and contributed a piece of writing to his university’s newspaper. This event marked a beginning of the artist’s reflection on art for social changes, departing from art for art’s sake. The questions he made at that time were “What does an artist do in a society?” “What is the freedom of expression in art?” and “How can art participate in social changes?” Such interests of his have led to his picture books about ideal changes of society such as The mosquito and the Yellow Bull and When Spring Comes to the DMZ.
Baek Heena was born in 1971 in Seoul. She studied education technology at Ewha Womans University in Seoul and animation at the California Institute of the Arts in the United States. After working in advertising and multimedia for children, she began to create her own picture books when her daughter was born.
Baek Heena’s picture book worlds open the door to magic and wonder, and her original techniques and artistic solutions breathe new life into the picture book medium. Her bookmaking is a time-consuming process requiring devoted attention to construction and sculpture as well as lighting design. Baek has won multiple awards for her work, both in South Korea and internationally.
Kwon Yoon-duk was born in Osan, Gyeonggi-do Province, Korea. She graduated in Food Science from Seoul Women’s University and continued her education majoring in advertising design at the Industrial Art Graduate School in Hong-ik University.
The variety of social issues in her books begins with her close attention and observation. Kwon Yoon-duk’s critical mind goes beyond the genre of picture books. From early works, <Manhi’s House>(1995) and <Labour and Tools>(2008), to her later works, <Flower Grandma>(2010), <Wooden Stamps>(2016), and <Sixteen>(2019), she expands the realms of picture books through experimentation and formats that are not fixed.