Where Korean readers meet books (1)
Traveling via Books at the Paju Book City
If you are planning on traveling to Seoul and love books and culture, there is a city that is a must-visit. Paju Book City, roughly an hour away from Seoul, is an industrial zone chock-full of grand and modern buildings that it would not be an exaggeration to call it a concert hall for famous architects. Inside Paju Book City, everything regarding publishing happens. This is an introduction inside that publishing-specialized zone you can't find anywhere else in the world.
The beginning and end of publishing, Paju Book City
A view of Paju Book City
Roughly 30 years ago, Paju Book City was planned by South Korean publishing professionals, who dreamed of the modernization of the country's publishing and distribution sector, with the aim to create an economic and cultural base in mind. The cultural industrial zone spans over 1.6 million square meters in Paju, Gyeonggi Province and its biggest feature is the fact that all the steps that it takes to make a book can be taken inside the city. Everything, including planning, editing, printing, logistics and distribution can all be done inside Paju, making the modernization of publishing possible. This is also what prompted the beginning of Paju Book City.
English website for Paju Book City : http://www.pajubookcity.org/Main/en_Main
2017 Paju Booksori
A giant space for reading 'Forest of Wisdom' Special accommodations at 'Jijihyang'
Inside the Forest of Wisdom
Once you arrive in Paju Book City, the first location you should head to is the Forest of Wisdom. The Forest of Wisdom, created in 2014, is located on the first floor of the Asia Publication Culture & Information Center and proudly touts some 200,000 books nestled inside bookcases. It is a vast space where the public is invited to come and read books donated by scholars, intellectuals, research facilities, publishers, distributors and museums. The house of books from the first hall to the third overwhelms visitors with its vastness. Anyone who visits the space can easily find a book to enjoy as there is a wide variety ranging from academic publications to children's books. There is also a cafe operating inside the premises, making it easy for visitors to spot readers turning pages with a cup of coffee next to them.
An external view of Jijihyang
The third hall of the Forest of Wisdom is also the lobby of a guesthouse named Hotel Jijihyang. The third hall is open year-round and 24 hours a day, making it worth a visit regardless of what time you visit. Jijihyang, which means the 'homeland of paper', is a unique hotel where there are books in the rooms instead of television screens. Visitors are welcome to a unique experience separated from digital content where they can enjoy books and the endless stories they offer. There are also 'author's rooms' which are decorated with personal items and books of specific Korean authors. There are rooms for two or three visitors as well as a Korean-style room for three. Rooms go for slightly more than 100,000 won per night.
English website for Jijihyang : http://jijihyang.com/Main/en_Main
Treasure Island, a secondhand bookstore
If you go up the wide set of steps with the entrance of the first hall of the Forest of Wisdom to your right, you will run into a secondhand bookstore called Treasure Island on the second floor. Inside are books, CDs, DVDs and design items donated by residents of the area. On the third floor of the same building is a publishing industry experience center.
Book cafes on every corner & things to see
To truly enjoy the atmosphere of Paju Book City, it is recommended you stop by as many book cafes, galleries, concert halls and theaters that are hidden here and there.
Course 1. Travel back to your childhood
(Left) The Pinocchio Museum, (Right) Milkbook, a book cafe and children's bookstore
Once you leave the Forest of Wisdom, there is a Pinocchio Museum right across the road. This is a special exhibit hall being operated by publisher Yolimwon. Small and fascinating items that hint of another world inside fairy tales catch your eye as soon as you enter. Once you go inside, there is a collection of some 1,300 pieces all related to Pinocchio. Visitors can also paint their own wooden toys in one part of the building while various spots can be found for special photographs along the way. As one can expect, the area is popular amongst families with children.
Course 2. Truly enjoy books and art
(Left) Blue Box located in the used bookstore lane of Munbal-li, (Right) The Mimesis Museum
Those looking to become immersed in books should head to the Munbal-li used bookstore alley. The Blue Box located there is a cultural multiplex, complete with a book cafe, small theater and a well-organized space for secondhand book sales which reminds one of a small library. Here visitors can purchase used books at low prices while enjoying a cup of coffee. There is also a space with a large screen and comfortable cushions for performances. The Blue Box plans on hosting many cultural events in this area, which is something worth noting for future trips.
Some more information
Paju Lotte Premium Outlets
Even outside Paju Book City, there are many places to visit. Those looking to shop can head over to the Lotte Premium Outlets. It is nearby Paju Book City and tourist friendly, making it easy for foreigners to shop. There is also the Heyri art village and Provence, which takes after the French village with the same name. These two locations are also worth casual visits. Towards the edge of Paju is the Imjingak Pyeonghwa Nuri, which in itself is a symbol of peace. There visitors can partake in diverse experiences and also take pictures at the pinwheel hill with some 3,000 pinwheels.
Paju tourism website : https://tour.paju.go.kr
Written by Myung-im Nam