Stepping up copyright enforcement efforts in Asia, South Korean law-enforcement officials, with the support of the Association of American Publishers, netted more than 600,000 counterfeit English-language books in a February 26 raid on the warehouse of Han Shin, one of the largest, best-known book distributors and publishers in South Korea. The raid has led to counterfeit titles being pulled from bookstore shelves around the country.
The pirated books represent more than 2,000 different titles with an estimated value of more than $14.5 million, according to a spokesperson for the AAP. The books seized include popular fiction and nonfiction, as well as educational and academic titles from a wide range of publishers.
Susan Pai, deputy director of international trade relations for the AAP, who supervised the ongoing investigation, said the seized books include cheaply produced counterfeit copies intended to be sold at cut-rate prices as well as higher-quality counterfeits (sold at higher prices) that required forensic analysis to identify. Both kinds of counterfeits tend to fall apart quickly and Korean consumers have been complaining to the legitimate publishers about their shoddy copies.
Pai told PW that the owner of Han Shin, Tae Gun Park, has been jailed, adding that Park is reportedly going to admit to pirating the titles. And while Park is the only publisher arrested so far, Pai noted that his son has claimed that the practice of counterfeiting popular books is pervasive throughout the South Korean publishing industry.
In an interview from Seoul, Pai told PW the raid has become a media event in South Korea: "The school year begins this week and students are in a frenzy. Books have been pulled from the stores and the university bookstore shelves are empty. Students are outraged at having paid full import retail prices for shoddy, pirated books."