That is the motto of neo-publisher, film producer and author Wolfgang Ritzberger, whose newly founded VERLAG RITZBERGER is launching with a biographical novel about Franziska Donner, the Austrian who was Korea's first First Lady.
"I've always been able to get excited about good stories," notes Wolfgang Ritzberger MA, the founder and owner of the newly founded publishing house that also bears his name. He says he has been reading books since he was a little boy, and when he moved out of home at 18, he had nearly 1,000 books packed in boxes. "Friends who helped me move had asked me if I would take bricks with me?". If he had to move his library today, it would be no easy undertaking.
With "Franziska," Ritzberger presents as a neo-publisher one of the most touching love stories of the 20th century, the story of Korea's first first lady, Austrian Franziska Donner-Rhee. "Soonae Lee-Fink met her in person shortly before her death and has now spent more than 30 years studying her life," said Ritzberger, who co-authored the translation and literary revision of the German edition. The story of Franziska is inspiring and touching, he said, as she literally leaves everything behind for the sake of her great love, and despite the considerable cultural hurdles, the considerable age difference (her husband Syngman Rhee was 25 years older) of the political attacks and the poverty that initially dominated the exiled politician's life, she perseveres and stays by his side. The research was not easy, since her personal diary had been destroyed in the course of a water damage in Ihwajang (a district of Seoul), where Franziska lived until her death. Thus, the only sources available were the numerous documents of her husband, in which Franziska was mentioned from time to time. Even the reports about Syngman Rhee have not always been positive; today, although he has gone down in history as the first president of Korea, he is considered controversial, and the role of his wife was and is often included in the political debate. Not least because she was so different from what was expected of a wife in Korean society in the 1950s. Soonae Lee-Fink: "The book has therefore become a biographical novel, the life of Franziska Donner is the basis and the descriptions are also historically provable as far as they go, but many details about which the diaries could have provided information unfortunately remain hidden."
"I am convinced that if the book is capable of telling such stories, it is far from dead," says Ritzberger, pleased with the publisher's launch of this special book. "Franziska" is also to be published in Korean and English next year, and an edition as an e-book or audiobook is planned before Christmas.
Facts and figures:
Subtitle: "the first First Lady of Korea
Paperback, softcover, 352 pages with numerous photos
Orders, also for bookstores, via the publisher