Is anyone surprised to discover there are some incredible libraries and bookstores in Seoul?
Want to explore Korea with me? Join my May 2020 tour!
As anyone who’s been in Korea long enough knows, this country is packed in. Owning a house is very uncommon, and more often families rent apartments in skyscrapers and live together in incredibly enclosed spaces.
This is why I believe public places are so popular, especially in even more densely populated places. Just think of how many cafes in Seoul there are, not to mention just how common it is to find one even in the most rural of areas. You also have tons of parks and green space throughout the city for warmer months.
Well, no surprise, there are plenty of libraries and bookstores to come study or work at! I love Korea’s book culture, where it does seem people still prefer buying or renting physical books rather than reading everything online. Here are some of my picks for cool spots to check out!
7 Cool Libraries & Bookstores in Seoul
1. Arc n Book (아크앤북)
On KakaoMap // Use Eulljiro 1ga Station, Exit 1-1
Arc N Book is more of a mix between a bookstore and lifestyle space. In between checking out their book selection and taking a photo of their Gatsby themed, art deco interiors, they also have restaurants and sitting areas to hang out. Hallie and I actually got a super delicious meal at the Taiwanese restaurant there!
2. Bandi & Lundis (반디앤루니스)
Bandi & Lundis is a bit of a franchise, but my favorite location is at the Seoul Express Bus Terminal where it’s part of the Shinsegae Mall. I used to always bus to Seoul from Namwon, so I killed a lot of time wandering (and shopping heh) through B&L’s selection! They always had the best adult coloring books.
It’s actually quite huge now, with two parts: the bookstore section and another section with random knickknacks and office or school supplies. Seriously, proceed with caution, or you’ll walk away with tons of random, cute stationery you definitely don’t need!
3. Book Park in Blue Square (북파크)
On KakaoMap // Get off at Hangangjin Station, Exit 2
Popped over here with Hallie and Angie after we visited the D Museum! Book Park is a mix of bookstore, cafe, and an art gallery. Since it has a ton of seats and tables, it’s actually one of the better spots on this list if you want actually do a little studying or work.
It’s part of the Blue Square, which is a performing arts hall built by Interpark. The whole Book Park section is multiple stories, and the big photo spot is by the staircase, so be prepared to see some photographers camped out!
View this post on Instagram
4. Naver Library (네이버라이브러리)
On KakaoMap // Use Jeongja Station, Exit 3. From there, you want to take Bus 55-1 and get off at Naver.
For one of the more random libraries in Seoul, the Naver Library is in the office lobby of, you guessed it, Naver company. Naver is the Google of Korea, quite literally. Like you don’t Google information here, you Naver it.
I remember seeing photos of the pretty green plants on top of the bookshelves, but I haven’t had a chance to visit yet myself! The type of books they have are more along the lines of design and technology, and there’s a nice cafe section. One lovely fact that I read was that the library specifically employs the elderly!
Apparently, you need some sort of ID to enter, so don’t forget to bring your ARC or passport.
5. Seoul Book Repository (서울책보고)
On KakaoMap // Use Jamsilnaru Station (잠실나루역), Exit 1
Recently opened, the Seoul Book Repository has become Seoul’s very first public secondhand bookstore. Its industrial design is a nod to the bookstore’s recent use as an warehouse, and the shelves are filled with over 120,000 books.
It gets its books from other secondhand bookstores around the city and takes 10% from sales. Because the books are grouped by these bookstores rather than genre or title, it forces visitors to browse more rather than rush in and rush out. (Source)
This is definitely a cool place to come, photograph, and then wander and see what kind of interesting books you find. Marie and I had fun seeing the different English titles or books we already knew and loved! If you’re studying Korean, this is a fun place to come and pick up some books to read.
6. Starfield Coex Library (별마당도서관)
Okay, so really the library name translates to Star Garden Library, but I think most people know it as the Starfield Coex Library as it’s in the COEX Mall.
Frankly speaking, this isn’t really a library or a bookstore but more an art piece of a photo spot. I do think they have events here sometimes, but if you’re hoping for a quiet spot to sit and relax or read, this is not it. When we went to escape the rain, it was crazy crowded. Also a lot of the bookshelves weren’t even books you could pull down and look at it but fake covers glued into the wall!
It’s a cool spot to see if you’re in the mall or nearby Bongeunsa, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to just see it unless you’re one of those people who plans your visits solely for the ‘gram.
View this post on Instagram
7. Cheongun Literature Library (청운문학도서관)
On KakaoMap // Closest Bus Stop is Gyeonggi Sango Jongno (경기상고 정류장) and then it’s still a 10 min walk
I 100% am visiting here on my next trip because it looks so lovely! This is the only library on the list that has any sort of hanok design, and Cheongun is located near Inwangsan.
This also reminds me of most libraries I got used to Suncheon, where it’s definitely geared towards being a normal space for study and work. The highlight is the seating area with views to the bamboo garden and, of course, the area is nice to go for a stroll when you need a study break!
And those are my picks for fun bookstores or libraries in Seoul to visit on your next trip! Visit to hang out with friends, shop for some Korean novels, or to get some work done!