This year's Almap Award goes to Baek Heena, who is one of South Korea's best-known picture book artists. She has published thirteen picture books that are popular throughout Asia and several have been translated. The breakthrough came with the book Cloudbullar, which this autumn was published in Swedish translation by Johee Kim and Jonas Thelander. The book has become both TV series and musical and toys in South Korea.

- Am I the winner? Thanks so much, so much !, said a surprised Heena when the Alma jury found the prize winner on the phone.

Characterized by cinematic expression

Born in 1971 in Seoul, Baek Heena has his background in animated films, with education from the California Institute of the Arts in the United States. She has also studied educational technology at Ewha Womans University in Seoul.

After working with advertising and multimedia for children, she started creating her own picture books when her daughter was born. Her visual expression is characterized by homemade miniature figures and environments that have been carefully illuminated and photographed.

- I just focus on the readers, I try to entertain them, that's all my focus, says Baek Heena, who has always liked to tell stories.

- I want to make readers happy and uplift rather than convey a message.

"Renewing the picture book art"

From the jury's motivation:

With an exquisite sense of material, mines and gestures, Baek Heena's cinematic picture books engineer stories of children's loneliness, meetings and community. In her suggestively constructed miniature worlds, cloudballs and sorbet moons, animals, bathing fairies and people are mixed. The door to the wonderful is always open. It is sensual, sharp and dizzying.

- Baek Heena renews the picture book art with uncompromising and courageous artistic techniques. Baek's enchanting picture book world engages, entertains and touches. The child's perspective permeates all her books, as well as an unwavering belief in the imagination and the power of play, says juror Elina Druker.

Baek Heena builds up miniature figures and scenes for his books.