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Book Trip

 

Gangneung, Gangwon-do

A Region of Rich History and Culture

 

2021.09.06

 

 

Having a blue ocean of the East Sea to the east and jaw-dropping scenery along with the lush greens of the Taebaeksan Mountain Range to the west, Gangneung of Gangwon-do Province is a city with glorious history and culture boasting both sheer beauty and long tradition. As a popular tourist destination with much to enjoy, the city becomes a hot place every year with Sogeum River, and Daegwalleong, famous for their beautiful landscape, not to mention Jumunjin and Gyeongpodae Pavilion crowded with tourists. Also, Ojukheon House, where Yi I, known by his pen name “Yulgok,” who was an outstanding Korean scholar, and his mother Shin Saimdang used to live, shows off noble beauty as historic cultural heritage.
The small and large bookstores of Gangneung, famous as the birthplace of novelist Heo Gyun and poet Heo Nanseolheon of the Joseon dynasty, bring its local culture to life. Some cool bookstores are spreading out their new dreams, creating a cultural street downtown, and some beautiful bookstores grasp the minds of tourists by blending with the blue sky and ocean. Gangneung is particularly known for having well-organized spaces for people to read books while enjoying a cup of coffee, its specialty item. If you think you need a break in a tranquil village by the shore or if you want to choose a book to read during your trip, bookstores in Gangneung will friendly lend a hand. Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the bookstores in Gangneung.

 

A cultural spot advertising Gangneung with books: Go.re Bookstore

 

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Views of Go.re Bookstore

 

 

Go.re Bookstore, located in downtown Gangneung is relatively very roomy for an independent bookstore. The name “Go.re” stands for “again (re)” and “let’s go (go).” Running both a bakery and a cafe, you can find the bookshop and the bakery cafe on the first floor, children’s bookstore on the second floor, seminar rooms on the third floor, and works written by literary people born in Gangneung, along with books about the city on the basement floor. The book space which has been organized with such a great effort, began with the bookstore manager’s hope to create book culture in Gangneung, after feeling frustrated about the regional environment where people could not get easy access to books due to lack of bookstores. This turned Go.re Bookstore into the largest bookstore in Gangneung. The manager says that the reason for creating a reading environment is because she believes reading books cultivate one’s character and develops the ability to continue studying, encourages one to have curiosity about the world, and builds patience and empathy. She believed that this would help people have the right attitude for and direction in life and that they, the readers, would play a pivotal role in society and spread hope in the world.

 

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The reason why Go.re Bookstore receives so much love from visitors can be found in its bakery and coffee shop which are run with love, distinguishing the bookstore from others. They entice people to spend more time in the bookstore reading books across the space where they can enjoy bread and coffee together. In addition, the Go.re bookstore enhances the quality of the culture of reading by organizing cultural activities with local residents, including the “shimya chaekbang (night bookshop)” open in the fourth week of each month. Furthermore, the bookstore invites authors from Gangneung and hosts book talks, not to mention reading sessions where teachers gather for debates. Also, Go.re Bookstore runs other various events, including special curations on World Water Day and recommended books divided by people’s MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator; self-report questionnaire for identifying one’s personality type). Plus, as the bookstore also makes and sells unique merchandise related to Gangneung, it is a good place to buy souvenirs alongside books to remember the region. The manager hopes to make Go.re Bookstore a place for people to have a natural encounter with books while recommending good books at appropriate times, becoming an excellent cultural space in Gangneung. Such hope is blooming brightly in the region, just like a full-blown flower.

 

A cozy mind-healer: Amulda

 

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Views of Amulda

 

 

Bookstore Amulda (meaning “healed” in English) can be found in a shopping arcade in a quiet apartment complex. It’s a second-hand bookstore where people can take advantage of both psychological counseling and a good cup of coffee. Amulda’s manager heals the hearts of local residents with advice in one part of the bookstore near the entrance and consoles them through books. As such, the name of the bookstore, “amulda” reflects the owner couple’s hope of relieving and curing people’s spirits through books, writing, and counseling. Amulda primarily covers popular second-hand books that visitors can readily read. Amulda became a second-hand bookstore because the owner couple wanted any visitor to have a relaxing time reading books with a cup of tea. This well implies their care for readers. Also, in line with the operating principle of Amulda, which is to lower the barrier towards books when it comes to psychological counseling, the manager couple hopes to help people feel open to having counseling and have a look into themselves.

 

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The two managers dream of building solidarity between bookshops, thinking that it is inspiring that more independent bookshops have unique features installed. They say they have a positive impact on readers too. There is one thing only found at Amulda, too, which is a small memo left by visitors to future visitors. The notes written by previous visitors include realistic tips, famous quotes, and fun phrases that heat readers’ hearts. What’s more, you can also learn drip coffee here at Amulda. It’s a special experience exclusively in Amulda, where you can spend some relaxing time with books then have a sip of coffee made by yourself. What’s more, as an eco-friendly book café, the bookstore is taking the lead in environmental activities such as making coffee soaps and deodorants and is planning to organize a space where people can try making them on their own. While Amulda creates an atmosphere for Gangneung residents to join book readings, the bookstore also promotes Gangneung’s hidden treasures by forming a cultural street at Chodangdong. Cheers to the managers’ hope of making Amulda a warm, comfortable, and humane space for its visitors, full of a relaxing mood.

 

A place that soothes your soul with books and films: East Cine

 

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Views of East Cine

 

 

East Cine, located in front of the Jeongdongjin beach, is a bookshop specialized in films that is gathering lovers of books and cinema. Its name is a combination of “East” and “cinema,” meaning “a theater in the East.” It may also refer to the “East Sea” to have the same pronunciation. East Cine opens the day with the morning sunrise of Jeongjongjin, and mainly curates books about movies. It also features liberal arts books, including literature and poetry. This “bookstore specialized in films” in Jeongdongjin, Gangneung, was established by the owner, who had been running an independent bookstore in Seoul for five years. He has brought together “films” and “bookstores” that he personally likes. The bookstore plans to open film screenings or meet the directors, emphasizing its strengths. East Cine is unique in another way; you can also enjoy book-cations and book-stays that have become a trend among book-lovers. Overnight stays, books, and movies marry so well, becoming a means for people to evoke their stories. This is why many travelers find mental stability and relaxation through books and movies while staying in the East Cine guesthouse. Also, once you reserve for an overnight stay, you have the chance to have a meal with the manager couple, heartedly cooked in vegan style, which is another exclusive experience only available at East Cine.

 

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The managing couple says that independent bookstores are different from large bookstores in that they link people not only with books, but also with people. Just like how East Cine encourages interpersonal connection through books and films, the managers say that independent bookstores are particularly precious spaces in the region as the curations and visitors’ experience solely depends on the manager running them. With glittering eyes, they said that once the pandemic is over, they want to open programs such as morning bird and overnight film screenings where people watch films in the early morning or throughout the night until the sunrise, and even a program where people read the original story then watch its movie to compare how the same story is differently displayed. The managers added that they hope people remember East Cine as a place where they can have an extraordinary experience in Jeongdongjin while encountering new books and films. I hope that East Cine will be a place of mental healing with books and films for many more visitors in the future.

 

 


Written by Kang Chan-Hwi

 

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Kang Chan-Hwi

#Gangneung#Gangwon-do#Go.re Bookstore#Amulda#East Cine
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