Two Great English Language Bookstores in Seoul

If you’ve been following this blog (or are a regular reader of 10 Magazine) you saw an article about finding foreign books in Korea (which focused on the excellent Foreigners Bookstore near Noksapyeong Station and What the Book in Itaewon). Now, thanks to Jacco  Zweetsloot and Claire Lee at the Korea Herald, I know of two more stores, the outstanding Underground Foreign Bookshop and the Beautiful Store Bookshop . Unfortunately, in the Herald article, the locations of the bookstores are left just a little bit vague.  In order to fix that up, KTLIT visited both stores.

According to the Herald article the Underground Foreign Bookshop has been in business for nearly 30 years, 7 years with the current owner, Lee Ho-ryong. When KTLIT went there yesterday we discovered that Mr. Lee is extremely friendly, speaks great English, and has his cramped store stuffed to the seams with English language books. In addition, he has more books in storage, so if you have a type of book you like, you can talk to him about pulling them into the store. This place is definitely worth looking into and is open from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday to Friday.
Phone: (02) 776-7940
Cell: (011) 294-1944

Now, here’s how you get there. From City Hall Plaza or the City Hall Subway Station (Euljiro 1-ga is also possible) you go to the City Hall Plaza underground market. Here is a snapshot of a map:

The bookstore is very near a large CD/DVD store and the nearest entrance, which is across from the City Hall Plaza (NOT on the Deoksogung side), looks like this:

And to give you an even better idea, here is a broader picture:

The other store is the Beautiful Store Bookshop, which has a relatively small (several hundred, tops) section of books in English (as you enter the store there is a nook with a table, then the second nook on the right contains the English books) in a surprisingly spacious area . This bookstore is a bit more difficult to find. Go the the Hyewha Subway Station and leave by exit 2. Then, after only a few steps, turn left through the Marionnier Park, past the cool sculpture:

Continue straight for two blocks after the park until  the street stops at the Beer Castle:

Turn right here, walk about 500 meters, and then on your right you will see the Beautiful Bookstore. It is down some stairs, and the storefront looks like this (you go in that scary looking door, and down the stairs):

10 thoughts on “Two Great English Language Bookstores in Seoul

  1. Pingback: The Root: Black History Month Is Over — Very Over

  2. Are there any books of Korean literature in translation at these stores that deserve a wider readership, but due to obscure publishing, have never received it?

    Or is it mostly phrase books and loads of English-language books from English-language writers?

  3. Charles (the other),

    Very rarely there are what I refer to as “good” books. Since I got to Seoul two complete years ago I’ve found about 50 decent books and 10 that qualify as great finds (either not found on the Intarwebs, in libraries only, or only available on Amazon for mad prices).

    I collect these as I come across them, but recently I’ve been spending more time watching Amazon, because sometimes prices fluctuate wildly on out of print books. I wait til there’s a cheap version and then buy. I ship them to The Translator’s house in the US and he brings them here on his trips across the vast briny.

    Some friends of mine here use e-bay to find rare historical books, but I’m too lazy to be arsed about that.^^

    So.. Kind of?

  4. Wyt-Ray,

    I’ve gone and tweeted that to my followers .. only a bit over 200, so don’t expect any rush. ^^

  5. Being more interested in used books (because many translations are out of print), this site doesn’t have a ton of use for me.^^

  6. Hi there. I went to the underground bookstore today and it was amazing, only the sign ahs changed and you need to update your post otherwise ppl will get confused like me 🙂

  7. Yasmin…. alas, I am no longer in Korea, so I can’t really get a new picture. You should definitely try to get to the “Foreigner Bookstore” between Itaewon and Gyungnidan…

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