게시물 상세

Hongdae, a neighborhood with a free and unique culture






When one hears the word 'Hongdae', they immediately think of the area's image, rather than the physical location. Hongdae is hard to put into just one word thanks to its unique and diverse culture. It's a location where new culture is made by people who turn away from the mundane and routine. This is why Hongdae is a good location to try out something new that hasn't existed previously.
Hongdae is one of Seoul's key spots for young people. Hongdae's vibe and culture attract young people who are always looking for something new, and those young people, in turn, create Hongdae's image. There are bookstores in this unique area as well, tucked next to other unique shops, and this book trip is all about the bookstores in Hongdae, one of the top locations for tourists in Seoul.



Gyeonguiseon Book Alley


The word 'Hongdae' was first used to refer to the immediate area in front of Hongik University located in Sangsu-dong, Mapo-gu. Now, the area has sprawled out to include all of Hapjeong Station, Sangsu Station and Yeonnam-dong. Today's book trip starts in Gyeongeuiseon Book Alley, located in Donggyo-dong.
An unused train track was turned into the Gyeonguiseon Line Forest Park, and that is where the Gyeonguiseon Book Alley lives. The book alley was opened in October 2016 and spans 250 meters from Hongik University Station to Wau Bridge. Because of its close proximity to the subway station, it can be found quite easily. The book alley can be accessed directly from exit no. 6 of the station for those riding the Gyeongui Jungang Line or Airport Express. For those using line no. 2, exit no. 4 is also an option.


The path to the Gyeonguiseon Line Forest Park and the entrance of the Gyeonguiseon Book Alley from Hongik Univ. Station Exit No. 4

The path to the Gyeonguiseon Line Forest Park and the entrance of the Gyeonguiseon Book Alley from Hongik Univ. Station Exit No. 4



The Gyeonguiseon Book Alley that sits on old train tracks
has booths that look like train cars as a reminder of the location's past days.



After emerging from exit no. 4 from Hongik Univ. Station and passing through a piloti walkway through a giant shopping mall, one can see the sky overhead and a small park. A few more steps inform the traveler this is where the Gyeonguiseon Book Alley begins, and there is a notice board where information on ongoing programs exists. A two-story building in front of the subway station's exit no. 6 has a networking area for meet and greets with authors and educational programs as well as an office for management. On the first floor are guide maps that are free to use.
With one of the guide maps in hand, walking down the path reveals booths that look like train cars. These booths all have different themes, with one holding participation programs and another operated by a publisher. They have been met with great public delight thanks to their many events and programs. This summer, the booths have all been undergoing a makeover and are expected to be worth checking out as operating publishers, themes and programs will be changing.


〈Gyeonguiseon Book Alley〉
50-4 Wausan-ro 35-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul


Exit no. 6 of Hongik Univ. Stations and train tracks under the Wau Bridge, where the Gyeonguiseon Book Alley ends

Exit no. 6 of Hongik Univ. Stations and train tracks under the Wau Bridge, where the Gyeonguiseon Book Alley ends


The book alley ends quite quickly in front of Wau Bridge while one is looking about. In front of the bridge sit independent bookstores 'DEMETER &' and 'Chaegbangyeonhui'.
'Demeter &' started as Demeter Books in Yeonhui-dong and later operated out of one of the booths on the book alley before moving to its current location. As it moved, it changed its name to Demeter &. The bookstore is operated by three sisters and sells books focusing on literature, philosophy and art. What warms the heart is the owners' philosophy, which is to share a more plentiful lifestyle with others by preparing high-quality books for better lives. If one asks what their favorite subject or author is, they provide recommendations. For K-Book Trends authors, the owners recommended Bare Feet (Changbi) by poet Moon Tae-jun and Is There an End to What I Love (Munhakdongne). Moon's poems are known for their Korean characteristics, and the countryside scenes are at times friendly and other times comical. Reading Moon's poems takes one back to their childhood, relaxing and purifying the heart. They also recommended works by Buddhist monk Bopjong. All the books published before his death are now out of print, but last year a collection of unpublished manuscripts was released I Am Going, See (Gimyoungsa), which may be a good substitution for his other books.


〈Demeter &〉
#301, 3rd Fl, 161 Wausan-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul


<Bare Feet>, <Is There an End to What I Love>, <I Am Going, See>

Bare Feet, Is There an End to What I Love, I Am Going, See

‘데메테르 앤드’의 매장 모습과 판매 중인 추천 책을 담아 판매하는 시크릿북

An interior shot of DEMETER & and 'secret book', a package containing recommended books for sale


Chaegbangyeonhui also started its history in Yeonhui-dong but also moved to where the Gyeonguiseon Book Alley is now. The bookstore calls itself one for city residents as it sells books on all activities and culture that are related to the city and its values. A yellow light warms the store as soon as you step inside, and books lie with sticky notes on top, where the store owner has written down personal recommendations. The bookstore sells many independent publications as well, and the owner has said there are hopes the store will later become a location for independent content creators. The bookstore already hosts exhibits for photographs, paintings and also hosts events like book talks.


B1F, 3 Wausan-ro 35-gil, Mapo-gu


‘Inside Chaegbangyeonhui and books on display

Inside Chaegbangyeonhui and books on display



The identity of this bookstore



Perhaps it is because of this that the Hongdae region has many independent bookstores.
It is difficult for one to judge whether the locations are bookstores,
cafes or multi-concept stores.



In the 1980s as Hongik University began specializing in art education, the street in front of the university became crowded with art-related academies, bookstores, workshops and galleries as well as art workrooms. At this time, a 'workroom culture' emerged that was unique to the area, and this was said to have become the backbone of the cultural areas that have comprehensive personalities in Hongdae today. Perhaps it is because of this that the Hongdae region has many independent bookstores. It is difficult for one to judge whether the locations are bookstores, cafes or multi-concept stores. There are bookstores that are difficult to define and being run with different values and characteristics. These independent bookstores are usually located in the fringe areas of Hongdae, and these following bookstores were located behind exit no. 1 of Hongik Univ. Station.
The first bookstore we visited was called '1984'. The simple but eye-catching logo '1984' also has the slogan 'the book is the root and culture the result of it' beneath it. The store is being run by a publishing company of the same name, and while it is a cafe, a bookstore and multi-concept shop, they have refused to define themselves as one word and rather refer to the store as a cultural space. It is a location being operated by a publisher, but the books being sold inside are from other publishers too. When we asked what kind of books would be good for presents, the store recommended poet Yun Dong-ju's Sky, Wind and Stars from Hyewon Publishing Co and Kim So-wol's Azalea. These copies were designed by graphic designer Lee Jae-min, who took the motif from the original versions of the poems. Regardless of age, the poems would be a good present, the store recommended.


194 Donggyo-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul


<Sky, Wind and Stars>, <Azalea>

Sky, Wind and Stars, Azalea

The interior and exterior of '1984'

The interior and exterior of '1984'


The street in front of '1984' is quite empty compared to the main street where the subway station is. Another block inside the alley makes one think they have stepped into a residential area, but this is where another cultural location like '1984' is, called 'Gongsangondo'.
Once you open the door and step inside, a very 'Hongdae-esque' view greets you. Made for indie-culture, this store is usually run as a cafe but also used for cultural purposes like exhibits, performances and art markets. Befitting a store that exists for indie-culture, most of the books for sale here are independent publications. As smaller-scale publishing has become available, more writers are publishing their own work rather than going through a publisher. And many of these writers are seeking out 'Gongsangondo' with their books, the store says. Books by famous authors or the usual bestsellers at large-scale bookstores can't be found here, but unique books are selected by readers who appreciate that uniqueness and purchased. The store offers fun for those seeking their own personal treasure in books.


40, Donggyo-ro 23-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul


Books for sale at Gongsangondo and photographs of the store

Books for sale at Gongsangondo and photographs of the store



The value of books, the happiness books give


Now we turn towards Hapjeong Station. When you think 'Hongdae' you can't leave out the keyword 'art' and near exit no. 7 of Hapjeong Station is a bookstore specializing in art-related books called 'B Platform'. Inside the store, all sorts of books on art and picture books clamor for attention. "Is this really a book?" one asks after seeing a very interesting looking book. So many pretty picture books are on display, enough to make picture book addicts go wild. After looking at the books for quite some time, one notices the other spaces towards the back of the store. A gallery-type space for exhibits is available while a studio also exists for workshops. 'B Platform' was also very Hongdae-like. Inside the studio was the store's manager and we asked for a picture book recommendation for K-Book Trends readers only to hear the manager lament there were so many they wanted to recommend. In the end, they selected two - Byun Ye-seul's Child and Kim Min-hee's The Animals On My Fingertips. Child is a picture book that has no text featuring the story of a fish seeking out its own light with beautiful art. The Animals On My Fingertips is the English version of the author's book in Braille that tells the story of wild animals in the dark. We were told that these two books and other books in the store were difficult to find in other stores. Longer descriptions of these books and others can be found on 'B Platform's' blog.


〈B Platform〉
3rd Fl., 22 Dokmak-ro 2-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul




<The animals on my fingertips>

The animals on my fingertips

Within 'B-Platform'

Within 'B-Platform'

Art books that break conventions about the form of books are sold at 'B Platform'

Art books that break conventions about the form of books are sold at 'B Platform'


When one is inside bookstores, time flies like an arrow. After looking at the books and things on display at 'B Platform', the final destination of the day awaits the traveler. The last store is located between Hapjeong Station and Sangsu Station. It is 'Thanks Books', a name that instantly comes to mind when one thinks of Hongdae and bookstores.
'Thanks Books' opened in March 2011 and it is currently in its 8th year as one of Hongdae's most representative curated bookstores. At first, it was located closer to the main Hongdae street, but it moved to its current location early last year. Even when the term 'independent bookstore' hadn't yet caught on, 'Thanks Books' was already famous among bookworms. This was because the store selects and sells books that are tailored to the taste of people who seek out Hongdae, which cannot be defined in one word. The store says it would like to be a special meeting place for all those who love the area in front of Hongik University and hopes for all those who visit the store to find a little bit of happiness in their everyday lives through a coincidental meeting with a book. The book of the week that is selected by the curator and the store's special line up of books can be found on its website. One of the good things about 'Thanks Books' is that they have eight years' worth of book recommendations in their records, so one can rifle through older publications in addition to the newer ones.


〈Thanks Books〉
57-6, Yanghwa-ro 6-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul


Interior and exterior images of <Thanks Books>

Interior and exterior images of Thanks Books


Not only can these independent bookstores or curation bookstores be found in the Hongdae area, but also other locations as well. However, what makes the independent bookstores in the Hongdae area more special is that these bookstores were here even before the term 'independent bookstore' was common. And although many bookstores and book cafes come and go, Hongdae sees more of them appearing, each one more unique than the last.



Written by Jeon Hye-young


Jeon Hye-young

If you liked this article, share it with others. 페이스북트위터블로그인쇄

Pre Megazine