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Where Korean readers meet books (1)

Traveling via Books at the Paju Book City

 

2017.9.11

 

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

 

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A view of Paju Book City
https://tour.paju.go.kr

 

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.
The publishers, printers and binders clustered around a marsh of reeds near the beautiful Shimhak Mountain create a wonderful harmony and also play a key role as a tourist spot. Paju is also home to the biggest book festivals in the country every spring and fall called Bookcity Festival for Children and Paju Booksori. This year's Paju Booksori is scheduled to be held from Sept. 15 to 17.

 

link  English website for Paju Book City : http://www.pajubookcity.org/Main/en_Main

 

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2017 Paju Booksori
http://www.pajubooksori.kr

 

 

A giant space for reading 'Forest of Wisdom' Special accommodations at 'Jijihyang'

 

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Inside the Forest of Wisdom
https://tour.paju.go.kr

 

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.

 

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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.

 

link English website for Jijihyang : http://jijihyang.com/Main/en_Main

 

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Treasure Island, a secondhand bookstore
https://tour.paju.go.kr

 

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

 

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(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.
If you are with a small child, a visit to the Milkbook, a children's book store as well as a book cafe is recommended. A former storage space used by publisher Milkbook, the cafe now displays a modern but detailed interior design. Inside children can freely read books while the cafe sells a variety of drinks and desserts, making it a great place to stretch your legs while walking through Paju.

 

Course 2. Truly enjoy books and art

 

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(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.
After leaving the secondhand bookstore, it's now time to cross the big street that runs through the city and head towards a white building that stands out among the others. The building is the Mimesis Art Museum, named after Mimesis, an imprint owned by The Open Books Co, a publisher. The museum is well known amongst members of the public who love culture and art and regular passersby alike. The building strikes a contrast against the green grass surrounding it with its white walls, giving it a fresh look, and the interior conveys a modern vibe unlike many of the secondhand bookstores nearby. Here you can read books published by The Open Books and enjoy exhibits. They too, have a book cafe, making it a good idea to sit down with a book by one of their large glass windows with a cup of tea in hand.

 

 

Some more information 

 

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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.

 

link Paju tourism website : https://tour.paju.go.kr

 

 


Written by Myung-im Nam

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Myung-im Nam

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