Home SCIENCE The Hidden History of Korea’s Printing Innovation

The Hidden History of Korea’s Printing Innovation

Seventy years before Johannes Gutenberg introduced modern moveable type to Europe in 1440, Korea had already printed the first book using moveable metal type. Today, Han-Soo Park is the only person in South Korea continuing to preserve this tradition at his Letterpress Workshop in Paju Book City.

As printing techniques have advanced, Park has kept an age-old tradition alive by creating poetry books and conducting workshops for Koreans to experience their often-overlooked contribution to the world.

Letterpress printing in Korea enjoyed its heyday in the 1960s, but for various reasons (technical innovations, aging skilled craftsmen, the shortage of young workers, etc) it began its gradual decline.


By the 1980s, presses and type pretty much disappeared. Then, a number of like-minded publishers, literary folks, and book designers got together and decided to revive the tradition of letterpress printing, to instill a sense of pride in their printing history. I suppose that is how this Paju Letterpress Workshop came to be.