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Bucheon, Gyeonggi-do

An Urban Fantasia of Cartoons

 

2021.01.04

 

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Located west of Gyeonggi-do Province, Bucheon is near central Seoul and borders Incheon and its beautiful ocean. Bucheon is referred to as the “city of art and culture.” It is not only the host of international festivals including the Bucheon International Animation Festival, Bucheon International Comics Festival, Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival, and Bucheon B-Boy International Championships but is also a leader of art and culture as it hosts the Poksagol Art Festival and fosters the Bucheon City Arts Group. Also, it marks the 3rd year of being designated as the UNESCO City of Literature, having its “historical heritage” based on literary activities in Bucheon, various festivals and abundant “cultural content,” and convenient “library infrastructure” recognized. Why not join us on the trip to Bucheon, the city of culture and creativity, closest to central Seoul?

 

 

Remembering the times back then··· : Korea Manhwa Museum

 

Views of Korea Manhwa Museum

Views of Korea Manhwa Museum

Views of Korea Manhwa Museum

 

Pen donations from 110 cartoonists commemorating the opening of the Korea Manhwa Museum

and a view of a comics store a long time ago in Korea

Pen donations from 110 cartoonists commemorating the opening of the Korea Manhwa Museum (left)
and a view of a comics store a long time ago in Korea (right)

 

From “comic books” where you would flip paper pages to “cartoon animations” where you would gather around with friends in front of TV and “webtoons (webcomics)” where you use fingers to swipe through the pages – the platforms for enjoying comics have changed. Still, they are yet a source of entertainment and happiness. The Korea Manhwa Museum was established to pass down our precious cultural heritage by collecting and preserving diminishing comics data and promoting the cultural and artistic values of comics. In particular, approximately 100,000 pages of handwritten manuscripts and about 8,000 rare comic books are preserved in its storage as of December 2011. The number is expected to grow significantly as it is the golden age of comics today. For the careful preservation of comics materials, the Korea Manhwa Museum has adopted cutting-edge devices for constant temperature and humidity, security, and disaster prevention to protect them securely from secondary damage.

 

Library inside Korea Manhwa Museum

Library inside Korea Manhwa Museum

Library inside Korea Manhwa Museum

 

The first thing you see as you enter the Korea Manhwa Museum would be the special exhibition. The currently on-going special exhibition is “I was 16 back then,” which features books about comfort women forcibly mobilized during the Japanese occupation of Korea. Including Spoiled Child that won the grand prize at the 2019 Bucheon Comics Awards, Grass, Flower Blooming Again, Her Story, and My Dear Girl are exhibited. After enjoying the exhibition, you can go over to the permanent exhibition zone, experience zone, and photo zone to see more works and engage in activities. Also, in the library on the second floor, you can read as many comic books as you like including those you saw in the exhibition in the big reading zone prepared. If you are reluctant to visit the place due to the pandemic, you can also enjoy the online exhibition on the official website. Please refer to the website of the Korea Manhwa Museum below for more details.

 

Korea Manhwa Museum: http://www.komacon.kr/comicsmuseum

 

 

Neighborhood Culture House: Yongbooks

 

Views of Yongbooks

Views of Yongbooks

Views of Yongbooks

 

Coexistence. A word referring to the state of living or existing at the same time or the same place in harmony. Little neighborhood bookstore Yongbooks, located close to Yeokgok Station in Bucheon, is a bookstore run by Park Yong-Hee, writer of It’s 12pm, the Bookstore is Open (Dreaming Life), that offers curations. Park Yong-Hee says, “I’ve been doing things related to books before I opened the bookstore. I was born a book lover, and I naturally got to open a bookstore as works related to books are so familiar to me.” Curated books are mainly liberal arts books that the residents can find easy to read. Indeed, the bookkeeper offers customized recommendations for those who want. This is why people that are not friendly with books come to indulge in the charm of reading. These people soon become frequent visitors to the bookstore, naturally creating humble but fun reading groups that have regular meetings.

 

Vintage-style interior of Yongbooks

 

Yongbooks hosts three types of meetings: “Sseoyong (let’s write)” where people gather to write stories, “Bwayong (let’s read)” where the members read classics, and a transcribing meeting. Also, rather irregular wine meetings, vegan meetings, and authors’ events are held where members can “learn and enjoy.” It has been 2 years since the regular meetings have been held, and with a high participation rate where everyone would join unless there is a special reason, people seem to be greatly satisfied as well. The bookkeeper feels the same way, too. Bookkeeper Park Yong-Hee says that spending time meeting various people in the neighborhood and having little chats with them is just so meaningful and fun, adding, “As Yongbooks does not have a billboard nor is a kindly bookstore, first-comers may feel a high barrier when visiting us.” However, unlike how the bookkeeper said, warm phrases are filling the walls of Yongbooks introducing the bookstore or about stories that visitors can refer to. A sharing bookshelf is scheduled to be opened next year to lower the barrier for neighbors to come freely and share their ideas and books, and another whole set of fun it will provide already makes us look forward to it.

 

Kakaotalk Channel: https://pf.kakao.com/_Uxlqpd
Instagram: @yong_books

 

 

Step by Step: 5km Books

 

Views of 5km Books

 

Young and bubbly, 5km Books is an independent bookstore and a publisher established in 2013. Beginning as a cafe, 5km Books sells books and goods, not to mention all sorts of independent publications and self-curated books. The bookstore became a new influencer in the independent publishing industry with its unique sense; it is running online community meetings. Believing that “customers’ growth is our future,” 5km Books opens pop-up stores once or twice a year along with an online store and listens to readers’ stories like friends. Once you step into the offline store, the first thing you see will be, “How much of a good person are you?” The bookkeeper says that this phrase was meant to trigger both them and visitors to think whether I am a good person now or whether I talk back about others’ weaknesses or compare with them.

 

Independent publications sold in a pop-up store (left) and book guides (right)

 

5km Books could stand out in the independent publishing industry as all the staff members were authors that make independent publications and readers at the same time. The bookstore picks the two most charming points of independent bookstores to be, first, they are less limited from covering slightly sensitive topics than their counterparts, and second, authors can fully unleash their potential as they work as individuals. Just like the members of 5km Books who say that they fell into the charm of independent publications after their first encounter with them, how about wrapping up the day reading a unique, colorful independent work by your bed?

 

Online Store: http://5kilomarket.com/
Instagram: @5kmbooks

 

 

Almost a World Book Repository: Eghunbooks

 

Views of Eghunbooks

Views of Eghunbooks

Views of Eghunbooks

 

As bookstores are closing around us, it is just joyful to encounter a secondhand bookstore on the street. Some people think secondhand bookstores to be a place that sells books others have been reading, but once you discover the true values of a secondhand bookstore, you will find yourself completely captivated by its charms in no time. Eghunbooks is a representative secondhand bookstore in Bucheon with a whopping 300,000 books, including books across genres such as children’s stories, novels, self-development books, reference books, magazines, foreign books, and even 300-year-old ancient material. It is also one of the biggest bookstores in size nationwide. Just like one of the visitors’ reviews that “you can feel the unique smell books have,” your jaw will drop as you look through bookshelves filled with books and the smell of books in the air as you enter. There’s no book in Eghunbooks that the bookkeeper does not know, as he says he’s been steadily collecting books he wanted to read from his early days in adulthood across the country.

 

Caricature of the bookkeeper by the entrance (left) and stored books (right)

 

If an ordinary bookstore mainly curates newly published books, secondhand bookstores cover books that can be found only in secondhand bookstores, such as antique and rare books. You’ll have mixed feelings when you see once-bestsellers as “masterpieces” in the corner of a secondhand bookstore, as everyone has different feelings and ideas depending on with whom, where, or when they read the book, and who used to like it. The bookkeeper of Eghunbooks says, “Even though these books have lost popularity, they could be books that someone out there is desperately looking for to read, as precious pieces.” He opens the store every day for that one precious book that will find its owner. Hoping to become a bookstore where anyone looking for a book can stop by and take some rest in comfort, Eghunbooks is also available online.

 

Online Store: http://www.eghunbooks.com

 


Written by Lee Ji-Hyeon

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Lee Ji-Hyeon

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