The RASKB is a non-profit organization that works to “enhance understanding of the arts, customs, history, and literature of Korea.” Obviously, literature is my focus, but two other things about RASKB are worth mentioning.
First, the RASKB has an excellent program of tours. The tours range from half-day walks to full weekend tours, occasionally even to other countries.
Second, the RASKB has an excellent series of lectures. The lectures are primarily on Tuesday nights, and take place on the 2nd floor of the Somerset Palace in Seoul.
But the most interesting thing with respect to literature is the Publications/Library function of the RASKB. Annually, the RASKB publishes its Transactions. These are themed journals with articles by experts in their fields. These have been published since 1900, and the full collection is available (in reprint or original) from RASKB.
Even cooler sounding, is the RASKB library, which houses “an extensive collection of monographs, journals, reference books and periodical on Korea and Asia in general covering some 100 years. Most of the collection is in English, but there are some publications in Chinese, Korean, and Japanese.” Unfortunately the library is currently closed for renovation, but it will open again soon.
A Korean-fiction junkie, luckily, can still head to the RASKB offices and see this:
A remarkable collection of Korean translations for sale. The selection here is larger than any I’ve seen on this side of Seoul Selection, and RASKB has some works of fiction I’ve never seen in any other bookstore in Korea. All of the books, I’m sure, can be ordered online, but browsing them and getting to look inside, is worth the trip.
In addition, the staff is incredibly friendly. The KTLIT Editorette asked about Korea’s Tangun origination myth and the staff grabbed a book that the Editorette did not want to buy. No problem.. for 천 원 (about 90 cents US) the staff promised to later run downstairs, scan the important information in, and email it to us. Which they did.
Just as a courtesy, while I browsed their books, they printed out their list of books and handed it to me as I left.
Korea Branch, CPO Box 255, Seoul 100-602, Korea
Phone (02) 763-9483, FAX (02) 766-3796
FAX from the US or Canada 1-435-415-2393
Office hours are 10 a.m. to noon, and 2 to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The RAS Korea Branch office is located in room #611 of the Korean Christian Building.
To find the office:
By subway: Dark Blue Line (#1 Line), station #129 (Jongno 5 ga). Take exit #2 and proceed 100 meters straight ahead to the Korean Christian Building.
Be warned, it is VERY easy to walk past the Christian Building as it is slightly recessed from the street, on the left.