DID YOU like to go
"Treasure-hunting" in your childhood? Do you remember the joy you experienced
when you found things that were hidden? It is an
unforgettable memory when you found treasures papers which were concealed between boughs
and under rocks. As we become adults, however, we hardly find treasures
in our monotonous daily lives. For some people who are bored of
these lives, here is good news. The secondhand bookstores have many treasures which will make
In secondhand bookstores, you can buy all kinds of
books at an extremely cheap price. They provide used textbooks, exercise books
for middle or high school students, rare books about cultural and social
science, and even expensive cookbooks for house keepers at a really low price.
In here, you can meet special and old books that you cannot find in normal
bookstores; books that are out of print, and that were published a long time
ago. Moreover when you read secondhand books, you may find interesting notes on
some pages inside. Smelling antique paper's scent will make you feel absorbed in
the memories of the past. Worn-out book stands, old signboards, and a stack of
books are symbols of a secondhand bookstore. These things make the generation of
today's parents reflect upon their past and children become fascinated with the
unique atmosphere. Jo Han-young, a visitor, says, "I visit secondhand bookstores
every two weeks. I'm a historical-minded person and have a special interest in
the ancient history of Korea. Here, I can meet rare historical books and study
many things that are hidden. I know that many valuables are buried here. If you
spend time here, you will become interested in this shop."
|▲ The street of
Cheonggye chen is a representative place for selling secondhand
Then, do you know where these stores are? The street
of Cheonggye chen is a representative place for selling secondhand books. This
place was formed almost spontaneously, 50 years ago. At one time, about 150
stores had businesses here and people from all over the country visited
Cheonggyechen. Recently, this street has lost many business and just 51 stores
are carrying on their business due to the following reasons; such as the
"Cheonggyechen Restoration Project" and the failure to capture people's
attention. Though they stand in bad condition, however, many shop keepers look
on the bright side of future. Hyun Man-su, who is owner of the "Christian
Sung-mun Bookstore" located on Cheonggyechen Street since 1981 says "We have
been doing business here for a long time, during many bad situations, just
because we love books and know the scent from a great book." According to him,
specialization is their survival method during the current condition. Actually,
in Cheonggyechen, most stores specialize in one or two specific areas; computer,
Christian, design and books in foreign languages. Bookstores that do not
specialize did not survive.
|▲ This street is
covered with the scent of secondhand books.|
Surprisingly, you can find these secondhand
bookstores easily in your area. Shinchon Street achieves fame as the "Fashion
Center of Korea," and secondhand bookstores don't seem to be suitable for this
street. But did you know that a few used-book stores have been in this Shinchon
for a long time? Gong's Bookstore and Hidden-books Bookstore are excellent
examples of secondhand bookstore in Shinchon Street.
|▲ People absorbed
in reading: When you find books that could make you merry, stop and read
These stores have their own unique atmospheres.
Gong's Bookstore was opened by Gong Jin-suk, who started this shop at
Gwanghwamun. After he died, this shop moved to Shinchon and his cousins are
currently managing this shop. This shop is famous for art books, especially
design, illustration and fashion. In recent times, books about computers and the
Internet are mainly sold. This shop also offers for sale 70-80's LPs, 90's
cassette tapes and CDs. Seeing old LPs gives our parents' generation a chance to
remind themselves of their youth.
Hidden-books Bookstore was founded just six years ago. The
owner, Roh Dong-hwan pays meticulous attention to details; many notices for
categories are attached on the wall, coffee or green tea is provided for free,
and many chairs are placed around the bookstands. This place is famous for its
kindness to customers. Roh and his wife have profound knowledge about books, so
customers can have a discussion with the owners naturally. Roh says, "As time
goes by, the number of student visitors decreases, and that is a pity. They only
call our shop when they need to buy textbooks. I hope that university students
buy not only textbooks but also books about various topics that are concealed
|▲ Where is the
one who used this book at 1989?|
Most secondhand book shops still keep their old
features; worn-out book stands, signboards, an entrance door, and the pile of
books. These old features may give nostalgia to people; however, it can also be
an obstacle in this competitive world. Visitors hardly find their books without
asking the owners because owners organize books their own way. Their internal
interiors need to be upgraded, and shop keepers should categorize their books
and make a book list in order for customers to search easily.
More and more people use the Internet, so they
also want to be able to buy old books through the Internet. Some secondhand
bookstore's owners attempt to link the offline and online used book market.
According to this current trend, Daeyang Bookstore is in the beginning stages.
This shop has started an online service (http://daeyang_book.hihome.com) since
2003, and just provides location, history, and pictures of the shop. On the
other hand, "Internet Secondhand Bookstore Goguma" (http://www.goguma.co.kr) is in the advanced level. In
this website, you can not only search for books but also order books that you
want. The amount of books is unimaginable and new books are updated regularly.
This website has even started a delivery service to customers' homes. Overall,
these secondhand bookstores' environments have substantially changed.
Secondhand bookstores are treasure islands that we
can find relatively easily. Who knows, while reading worn books you might
accidentally find love letters that someone wrote a few decades ago? This place
makes visitors experience the lapse of time. This weekend, how about going to
secondhand bookstores with your parents or friends? It will be a good memory to
both you and them.
|▲ This drawing by
hand can tell visitors where the books are categorized but it is difficult
to find the books that you want.|