Hans Christian Andersen Awards
The Hans Christian Andersen Award is the highest international recognition given to an author and an illustrator of children's books. Given every other year by IBBY, the Hans Christian Andersen Awards recognize lifelong achievement and are presented to an author and an illustrator whose complete works have made an important, lasting contribution to children's literature. KBBY has recommended Korean writers and illustrators since 2012.
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.
Lee Geum-yi began her writing career with children’s short stories in 1984 and later expanded her oeuvre to include young adult novels. She communicates with her readers on a variety of topical issues. Her works include a story set in a rural area in Korea, a story that addresses the issue of family, a story of a girl who was sexually abused, and a historical novel set in the period when Korea was under Japanese rule. Charming depiction of characters, usually children or adolescents who pioneer their way without losing hope despite challenging circumstances, delicate narratives, and sincere tone of voice are among the strengths of Lee’s writing. Lee is one of Korea’s leading writers and moreover a dedicated writer, who is constantly searching for new ideas and direction.
Suzy Lee was born in Seoul, Korea in 1974. As a child, she enjoyed drawing all the time, and she happened to meet an eccentric local artist who ran a little art studio. She recalls that he was the first person who showed the world of art and taught her how to truly appreciate it. Those fond memories later became one of her picture book My Bright Atelier (BIR, 2008).
Majority of her books are in a form of wordless picture book, and they are universally appealed to the readers worldwide. Her books are acclaimed at home and abroad for the ability to catch the very moment of playful children. In 2015, she had a solo exhibition in Korea and her title “Play, Play and Play Again” shows how much she appreciate the endless energy of children:
Han Byoungho was born in Seoul in 1962. He studied Korean painting at Chugye University for the Arts. Following the suggestion of one of his seniors to create work that embodies the style of traditional Korean painting, Han submitted an illustration of a goblin for an exhibition. This led Han to illustrate for a number of goblin stories, earning him the title of “goblin artist.” His awards include Grand Prize at the Biennale of Asian Illustrations Japan in 2002, the 3rd Science Book Award for When You Go to Misan Valley, Korea Creative Award for illustration in 2004, and the BIB Golden Apple for I Wish I Were a Bird in 2005, and the Grand Prize at the 46th Korea Book Awards in 2006. His work has been included in the IBBY Honour List, and he represented Korea for the Hans Christian Andersen Awards in 2014.
Kim Jin-Kyung (1953-) began his literary career as a poet. He was also a teacher and an activist devoted to the educational movement in Korea. He wrote Cat School, a fantasy children’s book series, which was awarded the Le Prix des Incorruptibles, a literary award for children and juvenile literature chosen by readers in France. The series has been published in France, China, Japan, Taiwan, and Poland. A fantasy tale based on Northeast Asian mythology, Cat School embodies the personal interest of Kim, who has been infatuated with folk tales around the world. Kim mainly focuses on reinterpreting old tales and communicating them to contemporary readers. Through his educational essays, Kim conveys progressive ideals to his youth audiences.
Hong was born in Seoul in 1929. In his childhood and youth, he experienced both the Japanese colonial era (1910-1945) and the Korean War (1950-1953), times of ordeal in Korean history. Hong Seong-chan belongs to the first generation of Korean illustrators. From the beginning of Korea’s modern illustration history until now, he has worked continuously for about 50 years, and it is not too much to say that nearly every Korean has encountered his pictures at least once while growing up. He has illustrated countless books for children, and regardless of the book’s content, his illustrations are tinged with Korean characteristics.From his early work on, he has kept to the realistic style in his pictures, and this has proved its real worth in various children’s books dealing with Korean history. Hong’s realistic pictures based on historical research are therefore of great historical value beyond just being illustrations. He is widely regarded as the best illustrator and genre artist of historical books for children.
Hwang Sun-Mi (1963-) made her debut in the writing world in 1995 with her short story “Marble, Marble” and novella Flower Planted in the Heart. She is considered one of the most influential writers, who played a leading role in bringing new changes in Korean children’s literature. Her oeuvre is extensive, encompassing a wide array of genres including realism, fantasy, and animal fiction. In particular, The Bad Boy Stickers (1999) and The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly (2000) have garnered popularity from readers across the world. This may be attributed to the fact that Hwang’s work addresses issues that can be sympathized by everyone regardless of race or nationality. She is one of the major writers in the Korean literary scene who has been pioneering new trends in children’s literature since the mid-1990s. Offering in-depth reflections on the realistic issues of our day, her work is widely appreciated by readers. Above all, Hwang is a writer greatly admired and supported by children for her sincere communications of life and death, freedom and love, and moreover tradition and contemporary. Hwang continues to expand her spectrum of themes, evidenced by her latest work that captures the story of a single teenage mother.