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Jeju Island

A Beautiful Mixture of Nature and Cultural Art






The official name of Jeju Island, a tourist destination for both Korean and overseas travelers, is “Jeju Special Self-Governing Province,” including the surrounding small islands. Being the biggest island of Korea, Jeju Island is a globally well-known volcanic island. The Oreums (volcanic cone), which are parasite volcanoes created through volcanic activities, Jusangjeolli Cliff, Lava Tubes, and the basalt zone, are indeed eye-opening natural sites for travelers. Besides, the Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes were designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2007, having their value recognized. On top of these, Hallasan Mountain, the highest mountain in Korea, beautiful beaches, waterfalls, and tangerine fields, are not to be missed spots for tourists.
The culture in Jeju Island is relatively exotic as it is distanced from the mainland, and the splendid view of the ocean and the mountain dominates the minds of the tourists. Also, small bookstores and cultural art spaces with unique characteristics are run in places on the island. Being designated as the “City of Books 2020” in Korea, the island hosted the “2020 Korea Reading Festival” this year. Why not we join the book journey on Jeju Island, which is the perfect place to have a book in one hand and enjoy the beautiful nature at the same time?



ⓒ Jeju Tourism Organization, Visitjeju.net



“2020 Korea Reading Festival in Jeju”


Poster of the 2020 Korea Reading Festival in Jeju

Poster of the 2020 Korea Reading Festival in Jeju ⓒ korearf.kpipa.or.kr


The 2020 Korea Reading Festival hosted by the Ministry of Sports, Culture, and Tourism and organized by the Publication Industry Promotion Agency of Korea (KPIPA) was held from September 4th to September 6th on Jeju Island with the theme “Today, Books.” It was originally planned to meet tourists through various events held across the island, but due to the spread of the coronavirus, all the events had to be switched to online events.
The 2020 Korea Reading Festival held online was filled with bountiful content such as performances, events, academic presentations, and exhibitions. A performance hoping the reading culture of Jeju Island to spread across the nation and a traditional Odoltogi (popular indigenous song in Jeju Island) performance took place during the opening ceremony. Along with these events, various forums and programs were provided, including Meet & Talk with famous Korean writers such as Kim Kyeo-Wool, Chae Sa-Jang, and Baek Se-Hee, and forums with themes “The Era of Pandemic: The New Normal of Book Festivals,” “Asking the Value of Reading in the COVID-19 Era,” and “Neighborhood Bookstores Dreaming Every Day.”



Photos from the 2020 Korea Reading Festival ⓒ korearf.kpipa.or.kr


The 2020 Korea Reading Festival that invited many people online offered a new direction for festivals in the post-COVID-19 era and ended in a huge success. The missing 2% from the fact that the event had to be carried out online can be filled through programs run in different parts on the island until October 31st. The schedule of programs joined by libraries, bookstores, neighborhood bookstores, and publishers is subject to change with the progress of the coronavirus, so anyone hoping to participate in one should check the detailed schedule and venue on the official website.

* Website of the 2020 Korea Reading Festival: korearf.kpipa.or.kr



Sosimbook: A Small but Happy Place




Sosimbook is a small bookstore in a neighborhood located in Jongdal-ri, a village far east on the island. Even though it is small in size, the touch of papers and the fluttering excitement of the letters written on them are enough to attract visitors. Sosimbook says that the interior of the bookstore and the personality of the bookkeeper are introverted as its name Sosim (means shy and timid in Korean). However, one is able to feel the strong inner will, albeit its small size as it stands still in an era in which people can easily purchase books online and get cheaper books offline.
This cozy Sosimbook filled with books of the bookkeeper’s taste also sells CDs, LPs, postcards, stickers, and items related to books. As there are books and items made by the bookstore itself, if you take time looking around, you will be able to find something that you like. Also, there is a little space for an exhibition in one corner of the bookstore. This spot is reserved for the “Exhibition of the Month” where an exhibition is run for a certain period on the chosen topic. As Sosimbook has been running an online bookstore since 2019, if you want to know more about the “Exhibition of the Month,” “Shy Pick of the Month” (a book chosen by the bookkeeper), and more about the bookstore, please check the website first before visiting.

* Website of Sosimbook: sosimbook.com


Small Talk with Sosimbook



1. Is there a unique characteristic that differentiates Sosimbook from other bookstores?
I think that compared to other newly established attractive and fancy bookstores, Sosimbook is very slow. Some may even feel idleness in it. But I think that the guests are feeling the inner meaning that the bookstore is keeping its pace, though slow, doing things that it can handle. Feeling relief and relaxation inside that atmosphere is what I think is the unique charm of Sosimbook.

2. How do you want Sosimbook to be remembered by visitors?
I think that when you are inside a place surrounded by books, that place soon becomes a special space that completely travels beyond time and space. We get to solely focus on the world surrounded by books and ourselves. I always think that it would be great if Sosimbook could serve as such a place. Even though small and humble, I hope Sosimbook can help you take away the consolation and inspiration you’ve got from books and be a place of remembrance when you return to your daily life.

3. Please recommend some books that go well along with Jeju Island.
I would like to recommend You Don’t Like Carrots, and I Don’t Like Kimchi published by Mitzul. Sosimbook is currently publishing books too in the concept of a shy and slow publisher. We published a completely revised edition of the book in February this year. The book is composed of essays written by a chef who runs a Western restaurant in Jeju island. So, it is like a survival journal and an observation diary of the chef on what he had to think about and fight against to achieve things he desperately wanted to do on the island, which has become a trendy tourist destination.



SORISOMOON BOOKSTORE: A Bookstore with Lasting Memory




Ten years. The time the bookkeeper put in to set up the bookstore. And the bookstore Sorisomoon leaves a lasting impression on its visitors for a long time. The stories and experiences cumulated during the 10 years of preparation have created a space in Sorisomoon that does not exist anywhere in the world, just like an annual ring of a tree. To make Sorisomoon a bookstore where people can solely indulge in reading books and the bookkeeper can grow fond of, the bookkeeper created the B.I. (brand identity) of Sorisomoon and even decorated the interior from A to Z. This is why there is no single spot in Sorisomoon that the bookkeeper hasn’t reached.
Once you walk into the entrance of Sorisomoon, you may first encounter new editions and bestsellers. And if you take a few steps further inside, you will be able to see several unique rooms: “Gurim Seo-ga Room” where there is a picture of a virtual library drawn by the bookkeeper on the wall, “Room of Writers” that helps to understand a writer chosen every month and his or her work, “Curating Room” where books recommended by the bookkeeper sit, and a “Relaxing Room” where visitors can comfortably take a seat and read a book. These rooms are filled with the bountiful love and affection of the bookkeeper for the bookstore. If you would like to focus on reading, putting aside any other factors, why not visit Sorisomoon, where you can take a sneak peek into the bookkeeper’s sincerity towards books?

* Website of Sorisomoon: blog.naver.com/sorisomunbooks


Small Talk with Sorisomoon



1. What kind of place is Sorisomoon?
I named "Sorisomoon (小里小文; small writing in a small village)" hoping good writings to spread across all the people. Sorisomoon just focuses on books, not giving a second look at other things. I deeply think and strive to help fine books to better reach readers every day.

2. What is the reaction of the visitors?
Sorisomoon is located in a very remote village. Even though it is difficult to come, the broad field, numerous Oreums (volcanic cones), and lush green nature are indeed things to enjoy and cherish, while you can also do various things inside the bookstore such as transcribing and seeing an exhibition. I think my customers love having such bountiful experiences while coming to the bookstore to get a book they like.

3. Is there a special tourist destination you would like to recommend?
I especially like Geumneung Beach in Jeju Island. It is good to play in the water as it is quite shallow, and you can also do some camping in the forest at the back. Above all, it is just satisfying to just look at Biyangdo Island floating far in front of the beach. Biyangdo Island looks like a boa from The Little Prince that swallowed an elephant.



Various Cultural Art Spaces in Jeju Island


 Joongsun Nongwon

Cultural Space Yang

Gallery 2 Joongsun Nongwon (left), Cultural Space Yang (right) ⓒ Jeju Tourism Organization, Visitjeju.net


Experiencing the culture and art in a tourist site in an unfamiliar environment is a must-do activity. Located at the farthest edge of Hallasan Mountain, Gallery 2 Joongsun Nongwon is where a tangerine (a principal product of Jeju Island) orchard was turned into a gallery. The big warehouse that used to keep tangerines was transformed into a gallery, while the small warehouse was reborn into a cafe. Also, the shed that used to keep farming tools is today a library named “Chungshinjae.” Exhibitions that select a writer from Jeju Island and introduce his or her works are often held here, and books about humanity and art are filling the shelves of the Chungshinjae library.
Meanwhile, “Cultural Space Yang” was named after “Yang,” which is an expression used by native Jeju people to start a conversation with another person. Maintaining the traditional house style of Jeju Island, the place is composed of an office, exhibition room, and a seminar room filled with books. The region where “Culture Space Yang” is located has a painful history where the whole village was burnt down during the April 3rd incident (a full-scale uprising that took place in Jeju). Today, peace has settled again in the region thanks to the love and support from villagers.


Art Space IAa

Lee Joong-Seop Street

Art Space IAa (left), Lee Joong-Seop Street (right) ⓒ Jeju Tourism Organization, Visitjeju.net


“Art Space IAa” located at the center of Jeju Island is just where “IAa (貳衙)” stood, which was an administrative body during the Joseon Dynasty. Living the history of the past, “Art Space IAa” runs various cultural programs and a gallery where you can experience visual art. Also, you can visit the room for art materials filled with diverse books about art. As exhibitions on various topics are often held here, it would be a good idea to look up in the schedule and see whether there is an exhibition open during your stay in Jeju Island.
On top of these, Lee Joong-Seop Art Museum and Lee Joong-Seop Street that were organized to honor the genius Korean artist Lee Joong-Seop are good spots to visit in Jeju. Also, various cultural art spaces are located in different parts of the island where you can also learn about cultural heritages cherishing the history of Jeju Island. Recently, Jeju Island is constructing “Jeju Literary House,” which is the first literary-oriented space in Jeju Island. Having the groundbreaking ceremony in January this year and planning to open its doors to visitors in the first half of next year, Jeju Literary House is expected to have exhibition halls, an auditorium, and a book cafe inside. So, if you are planning to travel to Jeju Island next year, why not consider adding Jeju Literary House to your itinerary?



Written by Choi Ha-Yeong


Choi Ha-Yeong

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