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Nothing says fall better than a few good books

Shopping /  Nothing says fall better than a few good books  / Bookstore options abound for cerebral shoppers  / Written by Daisy Larios

The article courtesy of Seoul magazine

A cool evening breeze has replaced the oppressive heat of summer, and it follows that curling up with a book is not too far off, either. There’s a saying in Korea—gaeureun dokseo-ui gyejeol—that translates to, “Fall is the season for reading.” Take a cue from this Korean pearl of wisdom to visit some of Seoul’s bookstores for a bit of autumnal appreciation of the written word. Although Kyobo Book Centre is by far the largest and most well-known of bookstore chains here in Seoul—you can find their massive store at Gwanghwamun Station (Line 5), Exit 3, while Gangnamites can try the location at Sinnonhyeon Station (Line 9), Exit 6—there is a great variety of more specialized bookstores, perfect for finding that perfect fall snuggle buddy.


Although a bit sequestered on the third floor of the building that houses the Hannam-dong branch of MILLIMETER/MILLIGRAM (MMMG), Post Poetics is a treasure trove of art, design, and photography books; even harder-to-find magazines and books from abroad can be found here. Originally opened in Sangsu-dong in 2006—no one was running this kind of store back then—Post Poetics is run by a handful of people with a variety of backgrounds, including painting and graphic design, who simply wanted to operate their own project rather than answer to clients. The store also sells a few select stationery items and works of art.

Post Poetics 포스트 포에틱스

Hangangjin Station (Line 6), Exit 3
T. 02-322-7023



Fans of Japanese manga—or the Korean variety, known as manhwa—will want to steer themselves over to Buksaetong, a basement-level bookstore accessible from Hongik University Station’s Exit 8 (its location should probably not come as a surprise, given Hongik University’s reputation as Korea’s finest art school). Perhaps the most well-known store of its kind among artists, Buksaetong’s sizeable selection is bound to enthrall local otakus itching to get their hands on some comics.

Buksaetong 북새통

Hongik University Station (Line 2), Exit 8
fyi (Korean only)
T. 070-7519-2008


English-Language Books

Perhaps the most popular shop for English-language books among expats is What the Book, located on the northern side of Itaewon’s main thoroughfare towards Noksaypyeong Station (Line 6). Consisting of both used books and new, you’ll surely find something here to suit your tastes and needs. There are a considerable number of children’s books, too, for families looking to enrich the literary lives of their little ones.

What the Book

Itaewon Station (Line 6), Exit 1
T. 02-797-23428


Books about Korea

For an expertly curated collection of books, movies, and CDs on Korea, look no further than Seoul Selection’s very own bookshop. Conveniently located near Gyeongbokgung Palace and Samcheong-dong, the cozy Seoul Selection Bookshop offers the usual café fare, letting you casually browse for books to prepare you for (or round out, as it were) your Korea experience. Translated works, Korean language textbooks, fiction, and nonfiction can all be had here—as can some samplings of Korean traditional teas, like the delightfully sweet omija (Five Tastes) tea.

Seoul Selection Bookshop

Gwanghwamun Station (Line 5), Exit 2
T. 02-734-9565


Used Books

Taking the prize for the most unique location is the Underground Foreign Bookstore, nestled between a women’s clothing store and a home appliance store in the cavernous underground shopping arcade near Seoul City Hall. The small stall—No. 213—is packed floor to ceiling with used books, mostly in English but also in several other languages, and Mr. Lee, the owner, says there are a lot more where those came from. Most titles are KRW 2,000–4,000, but some out-of-print and rare titles are pricier. The bookstore has been around since 1982, but Mr. Lee has big plans to move the operation aboveground in the next year or so, so make sure and pay a visit while it’s in its current (eccentric) state.

Underground Foreign Bookstore

Between City Hall Station (Lines 1, 2)
and Euljiro 1-ga Station (Line 2)
FYI T. 02-734-9565


The article courtesy of Seoul magazine

Date 10/29/2013

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