Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Bosu-dong Book Alley in Busan, South Korea

Entrance to Bosu-dong
While researching things to do in Busan, I came across references to the Bosu-dong Book Alley. Luckily, it turned out to be quite near my hotel, so on the last morning there, on a visit to the shopping areas, I was able to drop in. Not quite knowing what to expect, I was amazed at how extensive as it was.

The shops were amazing, some were no larger than a large closet, but were stacked floor to ceiling, in every nook, with books of all types. There were, obviously, many in Korean, but also stacks of old National Geographics (ah, so that is where they go to die!). In one of the larger shops, the Nikdda Book Cafe, there was also a selection of vinyl LPs (again, mostly from Korea, but there were also pristine copies of the Dirty Dancing soundtrack and Debbie Gibson's Out of the Blue).

There's a nice article on Bosu-dong on the LIST Magazine website:
The Bosu-dong Book Alley, which is located in Jung-gu, Busan, is a place where a war-ravaged barren land became bountiful with books. This is a place born out of war in the course of tragic Korean history. The enclave of bookstores faithfully played the role of gratifying people’s thirst for knowledge and served a pivotal role in fostering democracy in Korea. In the 60 years since it was established, the book alley has undergone steady change. The alley has transformed itself as a prominent cultural space. It offers a striking view of both sides of the street lined with bookstores and the now famous murals alongside the steps leading to the alley, as well as many cultural events and activities. But the importance of the area as a center for used bookstores remains unchanged, which is probably the biggest reason why Bosu-dong Book Alley has long been cherished.

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