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Daegu, Gyeongsangbuk-do

A City Infused with the Scent of Books

 

2021.04.05

 

 

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Daegu Metropolitan City, located in the southern part of Gyeongsangbuk-do, is an inland basin where mountains, forests, springs, and wetlands make beautiful harmony. Being the epitome of “harmonious coexistence,” Daegu boasts a cordial mixture of fancy townscape and beautiful nature, where the past, present, and future coexist. You can also find unique streets where businesses in the same industry came together and formed their own market. The best examples are the automobile component street in Namsan, famous for its street motor show, glasses street which is one of the top 3 glasses production sites in the world, and the jewelry street where around 200 jewelry shops are lined up. And if you walk down the 100-year-old Hyangsoo road around Namsan, you will come across “Daegu Printing Street,” which shows the history and friendliness of the printing culture and gives the city its reputation of being the “printing hub.” The publishing culture in Daegu began around the Palgongsan Mountain, where the first Buddhist scriptures carved on wood from the Goryeo Dynasty are enshrined. During the Joseon Dynasty, books began to be published across the Yeongnam area, including Daegu and Gyeongbuk, after Gyeongsang-gammyong (provincial office) settled in Daegu. The Daegu printing street began to take its shape from the end of the 1970s, and the street published most of the literary works and magazines until the 1980s. Recently, the street is dreaming of the next renaissance of the publishing industry as it was designated for the “Urban Vitality Promotion Project” by Jung-gu Office. Now, let’s walk through the bookstores in Daegu, filled with the joyful scent of books.

 

A neighborhood bookstore “safe” to share each other’s preferences: Coffeexchaeg

A warm cup of tea and a book of your choice. A fantastic combination. Coffeexchaeg located close to Gyeongsang-gamyeong Park, is a complex made with the time and care of the bookstore manager sisters, which consists of the tea room (cafe) where the younger sister sells fruit syrup, coffee, and blended tea, and the bookstore where the older sister sells general books and independent publications. Just like the sisters’ idea that people should not feel uncomfortable spending time in their bookstore, visitors to Coffeexchaeg are of various ages, from young kids to seniors. Those older visitors come by in the morning in the course of their morning walk, students drop by around lunch after school, and young people come to participate in poem-reading meetings hosted by the bookstore. There would be no other safe place to share ideas, stories, and organize one’s thoughts than Coffeexchaeg, just like the bookstore managers’ dream of “making a safe neighborhood bookstore where, though slow, people can continue pursuing their likings.”

 

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Views of Coffeexchaeg

 

 

The books in Coffeexchaeg are mainly general books and independent publications that reflect the bookstore managers’ values and personality. First, they have Korean literature and literary works that manifest the color of the bookstore managers who like reading poems in everyday life. They also run meetings where people who think poems are difficult can gather around, read poems, share their ideas, and exchange poem collections. Second, there are books that represent the voices of women. They have been steadily curating books related to the human rights of females in the idea that it would be great to cover topics the society can discuss together as they are living as females in the Korean society. They are more than willing to be a droplet if the little droplets can gather and create a large drop. Third, Coffeexchaeg covers books related to pure art. As the field of the bookstore managers’ interest, Coffeexchaeg joyfully collects and sells titles related to pure art as a true fan. Last but not least, you can also find independent publications in Coffeexchaeg, which talk about various stories of people around us. It reflects the bookstore managers’ hope for independent publications to serve as a platform for stories to be shared between those who want to speak out and those that want to listen.

 

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Address: 1F, 60, Gyeongsanggamyeong-gil, Jung-gu, Daegu
Website: https://www.instagram.com/coffeexchaeg/

 

The charm of trivial but valuable joy: The Pollack

The first independent bookstore that comes to mind when thinking of independent bookstores in Daegu would be “The Pollack.” Its name literally means pollack, the fish. Pollacks in Korea have different names depending on how they are produced from Hwangtae (dried pollack), Dongtae (frozen pollack), and Nogari (little pollack); the bookstore reflects the hope of the bookstore managers who wanted to make the space a channel for multiple activities, not only using it as a bookstore selling books. There are five bookstore managers taking care of the bookstore. The five friends from the same university who had similar artistic and cultural interests came together in September 2012. They opened the independent bookstore for the first time in Daegu as they got to know independent publications around that time. The Pollack tries to be packed with books with content and type as various as possible. In the early days of the bookstore, they brought in most of the books as there were not many independent publications and bookstores, but nowadays, they store books chosen selectively by the bookstore managers. General books of the bookstore managers’ taste, too, are covered by the bookstore as well, but only in small quantities.

 

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Views of The Pollack

 

 

“We root for your hojakgil (little fun).” This is the sentence that always appears when introducing The Pollack. The word hojakgil is a Gyeongsang-do dialect word which means having a fun time playing with your hands. In other words, it means that they root for people doing things that may seem trivial and useless but are fun and valuable to themselves. Also, “The Pollack” not only introduces and sells independent publications, goods, and records but also runs a small festival for independent publications once a year titled “Maybe it’s productive.” And the bookstore opens book talks about twice a year called “It’s The Pollack,” while also hosting group meetings for writing, reading, watching movies, and reading picture books under the name of “club activity.” The Pollack has been steadily carrying out activities that value togetherness, such as hosting “Things that came up to my mind while I was watching a movie” together with Ohoh (55 pronounced in Korean), a theater for independent movies.

 

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Address: 1F, 62-5, Gyeongsanggamyeong 1-gil, Jung-gu, Daegu
Website: https://www.facebook.com/Thepollack5

 

The fun of discovering treasures: Ghost Books

Ghost Books is an independent publisher and a bookstore that plans, produces, and sells books. It is run both online and offline and covers books, independent publications, imported books, prints, and goods of certain writers. The name “Ghost” came from the bookstore manager’s idea that artists working alone are somehow similar to ghosts. The bookstore manager said, “Artists are like, in one corner of people’s mind, but most of the time they are not recognized until their work is announced to the world after their long, hard work. It is then that we feel the existence and influence of those artists.” Such belief that the life of artists is somewhat similar to ghosts in certain aspects has led to naming the bookstore “Ghost” and making a character for it that fits the image.

 

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Views of Ghost Books

 

 

Ghost Books display selectively chosen independent publications and general books based on the bookstore manager’s subjective standard. The bookstore manager mainly looks for books written from a new perspective that can give a fresh stimulus to readers, where the standard reflects the bookstore manager’s hope for visitors to feel something new as they leave the bookstore. Art, design, and photography are areas that Ghost Books puts extra care into. Imported books are also important to them. Ghost Books also runs book talks, exhibitions, and the workshop “Jin Making class.” This class is a 5-week course for people who have content of their own but are unable to turn it into a physical book. Anyone interested in independent publishing can try out making their own book as there’s time for learning how to make manuscripts and images and use editing programs (InDesign). Besides, Ghost Books also releases Mimi Magazine, which means “good taste,” as “mimi” is a combined word of “beauty” and “taste” in Korean. The magazine features stories and lifestyles of wonderful people devoted to their careers in various regions while unraveling stories related to the topic of the month from diverse writers’ perspectives.

 

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Address: 3F, 212, Gyeongsanggamyeong-gil, Jung-gu, Daegu
Website: http://www.ghostbooks.kr/

 

A space for heart-to-heart exchanges: Sim_Place

Sim_Place opened in September last year near Dongdaegu Station and is an extraordinary bookstore selling books and cocktails. The name derived from the bookstore manager’s hope for it to be a place where people come and relax from the busy urban life, combining words “sim (meaning ‘mind’ in Korean)” and English word “place.” Just as the bookstore manager intended, Sim_Place has become a place where books, cocktails, people, and cats (who are the bookstore's mascots) blend in harmony. The bookstore manager says that she fell in love with independent bookstores after she visited The Pollack while searching for her career, and opened Sim_Place to be a place that mainly covers independent publications. However, unlike what she has expected, many of the independent books were low in quality, making it difficult for her to curate fine books. Yet, this has helped her build know-how in choosing and curating independent books that suit well with the bookstore.

 

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Views of Sim_Place

 

 

Just like the philosophy of the bookstore manager that books are an art piece of their own, books in Sim_Place are displayed in a way that shows their front cover rather than being packed in shelves showing their spine. The standard for selecting books is clear as well. First, not only the content and title but also the front cover should be pretty enough to catch people’s attention. Second, it should be about topics not too heavy for people to read and purchase lightly whenever they want. This is why books with clear political color or ideology are less likely to be chosen by the bookstore manager as they could be uncomfortable for those with opposite ideas. Most of the books in Sim_Place are essays that people can read and relateto. Also, as many visitors like novels, the bookstore covers novels written by famous Korean writers, not to mention Japanese writers. The bookstore manager says, “Sim_Place aims to be a place where you can rest your mind rather than a hot place for all, and a place that gives a touching impression rather than filled with sensitivity.” How about having some time relieving your exhausted mind in Sim_Place today?

 

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Address: B1, 4, Dongbu-ro 34-gil, Dong-gu, Daegu
Website: https://www.instagram.com/sim_place/

 

 


Written by Lee Ji-Hyeon

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Lee Ji-Hyeon

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