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Book Trip

 

Cheongju, Chungcheongbuk-do

The Active Role Independent Bookstores Play in Leading
the Regeneration of Urban Culture in the Old Downtown Area

 

2021.11.01

 

 

Chungcheongbuk-do Province is the only province in Korea that does not embody a coastal area. However, in Cheongju, located in the central part of the inland area of the Chungcheongbuk-do Province, is Daecheong Lake, also known as the sea of the inland. Daecheong Lake, with its vastness, provides a rich supply of water, making Cheongju a city of plentifulness with magnificent scenery. You can enjoy a stroll or drive along with the scenery of Daecheong Lake that changes throughout the four seasons. Cheongju has an abundance of tourist locations such as the Cheongnamdae, the presidential villa with the name in Korean that means “Blue House of the South.” It also has a well-preserved earthen fortification representing Korea called Sangdangsanseong Fortress, and Suamgol Village with its old alleys also used as the filming spot for many Korean dramas including “Bread, Love and Dreams,” “Cain and Abel,” and “Honorary Jaein.” There is also a drama-themed alley and the Kim Soo-Hyun Drama Art Hall in the Suam-gil, inspired by the filming of dramas, has added a bigger attraction to the city. When you travel to Cheongju, you must visit the Cheongju Early Printing Museum, where you can appreciate the culture of early printing. You should also visit the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Cheongju, which is a reconstructed version of the cigarette manufacturing storage that used to play a major role in the local economy.

 

A Married Couple’s Bookstore Offering Unexpected Encounters with Books: Bookstore of Dreams

 

A great city for people to live in must provide great job opportunities, plentiful life amenities, and diverse cultural spaces all at once. Cheongju has an industrial complex that fulfills the role of providing great job opportunities. Also, it lives up to being a part of the Chungcheongbuk-do Province by offering a variety of life amenities. However, although these two aspects are fulfilled, the city relatively lacks cultural spaces. Bookstore of Dreams is a bookstore run by a married couple who have the purpose of making it the pivot of culture within the area so that Cheongju can be a much better place to live in and advance as a much more attractive city. Bookstore of Dreams was named by its employees to express their hope of providing a space where one can escape from one’s not-so-easy life to the bookstore and find great dreams and pursue goals they want to achieve. The married bookstore managers, who already have quite a lot of experience in running a bookstore and a liberal arts academy in Cheongju, opened Bookstore of Dreams in Cheongju in 2015 as they felt the need and potential for a bookstore that plays a central role in the local culture of Cheongju.

 

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The couple explains that the reason for local bookstores to stay firmly in their places is that people can have unexpected encounters with books in bookstores. However, the number of readers is decreasing, and there are more and more options online through which people can purchase and come across books. Bookstore of Dreams is a space where you can acquire information about books and see and experience many more aspects as you come across different books. Daily, about 100 books are stocked and displayed in the bookstore, while the total number of books equals more than 10,000 books. The bookstore aims to provide opportunities for locals to experience change by displaying newly published books weekly to help readers understand book trends and expand their range of options. In addition to this, it plans on creating a space for writers and readers to meet and hold lectures on liberal arts that may be helpful to locals. Currently, it runs a “Bookstore Tong Tong Program” with the poet, Kim Eun-Sook, who is also from the region. The program includes a recital and literary debate held twice every month and a time for sharing stories that are helpful to society with local seniors once every month. The main goal of Bookstore of Dreams of being able to provide opportunities for local readers to easily come to think upon and participate in sharing stories about the cultural events and the region is ripening.

 

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Taking Off As a Cultural Complex by Enlightening Reading Culture, HYGGE books

 

Once it grows to a certain extent, a city must increase its quality along with its increasing quantity. Since this also applies to cultural spaces, a space that fulfills the needs of locals and creates diverse cultures is a necessity. Hygge Books, which opened in 2017 near Musim River, located in the downtown area of Cheongju, has been more than just a space selling books and aims to mass-produce new cultural content. HYGGE books has created a cozy and comfy space of happiness where people can feel relaxed. It centers on the emotional stability inspired by the meaning of “hygge” in Norwegian, which means well-being. HYGGE books also has a cafe and a stationery store so that anyone can easily come in and read books as well as enjoy the cultural aspects. The bookstore aims to provide opportunities for readers to enjoy reading and culture in a natural environment by expanding the target consumers with a wider range of options and more reasons to visit.

 

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HYGGE books has positive reviews from students, parents, and even teachers for its field trip program for nearby elementary schools so that children can get into the habit of being familiar with books and reading a lot from an early age. In addition to this program, it has an event where you can meet authors, which is often held by small bookstores. It also holds a variety of cultural events with municipal libraries. It has been benchmarked in nearby small and medium-sized cities with its clear identity as a bookstore that ponders upon co-existing within the area. This attracted other regions, leading to the opening of the bookstore in Daejeon, Daegu, and Uiwang, displaying its growth. The efforts of HYGGE books to be successful as a complex cultural space by creating a reading culture and inviting cultural businesses within the region will show the potential of medium-sized bookstores that play the role of a makeshift bridge between large bookstores and independent bookstores.

 

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A Cultural Community Created from the Good Cycle of Literary Circles, Moon Flower

 

“Moon Flower,” also the nickname of the first owner of the bookstore, was given its name in hopes of radiantly blooming a culture like a “flower” on a “moon.” Moon Flower was established thanks to people who share the hobby of reading wanting to do a wider range of activities together. People in literary circles together felt the necessity of a space and thought that it would be a great idea to create a space in the form of an independent bookstore. Since it was a place created together under the same purpose, the current owner did not hesitate to take responsibility for Moon Flower and kept it running when the initial owner couldn’t be in charge anymore under personal circumstances.

 

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Moon Flower, located in the old downtown area of Cheongju, mainly has picture books for adults. Moon Flower is an independent bookstore that started out as a book club and became a cultural community. Moon Flower hopes to provide the time to soothe the inner mind and provide comfort when readers read picture books that relax the mind. There are now a variety of book clubs as more and more people with the same purposes and hobbies would come to the bookstore. Currently, Moon Flower is the center for many activities, including Healing Book Talks, “Gojeon Dojeon,” (a book club for classics), “Geu-ullim” (a book club for picture books), “Shim-in-book,” (a book club for psychology books), “Reanema (Read + Cinema),” (a movie book club), “Gargle,” (a writing club without pretense) and more. Thus, the bookstore has a cultural community where members can share valuable results by cooperating and doing things together if they want to or by creating other programs. The manager of Moon Flower hopes for more people to come to the bookstore and pursue happiness through books since it is a space open to anyone without the burden of having to read through the whole book or having to mandatorily participate. The positive energy that comes from a community linked together through books, created by the cozy Moon Flower, shines radiantly.

 

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Written by Kim Young-Ihm

 

kbbok

Kim Young-Ihm

#Chungcheongbuk-do#Cheongju#Bookstore of Dreams#HYGGE books#Moon Flower
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