It comes as little surprise that a city as vibrant as Seoul also has a vast selection of hip independent bookstores. The following bookstores are our best picks for all bookworms in South Korea.
Kobalt is the ideal place to sit down, order a beverage, and read for hours and hours on end. When owner Geena Woo returned to Seoul after living in London for a couple of years, she missed exactly these relaxing reading havens. That’s why she created Kobalt, a bookstore with a café and a relaxing atmosphere. Whether you are looking for all-time favorites, brand-new reads, or magazines of all kinds, Kobalt will have what you are looking for – and if they don’t, they’ll gladly order it for you.
This charming bookstore is located on the top floor of a building with no elevator – but it’s worth climbing the stairs. If you’re looking for independent or design books, you’ll love it here. On top of that, YOUR-MIND also sells stationery and music by independent artists. Moreover, the owners regularly organize book events and fairs. Stop by, and you won’t regret it.
It is not exactly easy to find art and culture magazines in English in Seoul, let alone all over Korea. Won Sung-Kyung realized just this problem and opened Paper Muse to fill the demand of the Korean people and foreigners living in Seoul. In her shop, she offers the latest issues of Vogue, Dapper, Monocle, and more in English. While prices aren’t cheap at an average 30,000 KRW (US$26) for a magazine, it’s about the same if not cheaper if you were to order the issues online and have them shipped to Seoul. Plus, you get to see the cover and flip through the pages before making the purchase.
Storage book & film
Travel photographers and explorers of all kind will appreciate the thorough selection of travel photo journals and photography-related resources at Storage book & film. This location is definitely one that inspires you to get your camera out and snap photos. After closing around 7PM, the owner offers photo workshops where you can learn a trick or two.
Veronica Effect came to life in 2014, when former magazine editor Kim Hye-Mi and her partner Yu Seong-Bo, a Korean artist, turned their passion into reality. The bookshop in Hongdae is specialized in art books and graphic novels, but also has a large section for children’s books, magazines, and vintage reads. The owners have works by Korean as well as international writers on offer.
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Jeon, the third-generation owner of the bookstore, is working hard to continue his grandfather’s legacy to provide a place of culture and knowledge sharing to the people of Seoul. That’s why 1984 is so much more than just a bookstore. Besides a vast collection of old classics and new bestsellers, 1984 also organizes lectures and performances where anyone can join. Over the years, 1984 has turned into a bookstore/café/shop, and the locals love it.
One of the newest stores in town, Veranda Books was founded my illustrator Noh Jun-Gu and fashion designer Jina Lee. Both owners wanted to create a space that would take people far away from the hustle and bustle of Seoul. We agree that Veranda Books sparks your imagination with their expansive collection of illustrated books. Besides photography books, postcards, and children’s books, illustrator Noh Jun-Gu also offers some of his own artworks for sale.
What the Book?
If you are looking for a well-stocked shelf of English books and magazines, What The Book? will be your best choice in the country. Besides their expansive English section, they are also dedicated to offering high-quality children’s books. Moreover, the owners regularly host book fairs together with some of Seoul’s international schools.