The Book Lover's Guide to Seoul
There are so many ways you could travel through Seoul that would keep you well occupied—you could cafe hop, temple hop, follow the flowers, discover the world of K-beauty, find the hidden gems, do the tourist things or go off the beaten path. The options are truly limitless.
An upward trend when traveling through Seoul these days is bookstore browsing, and as an educator and library lover, I am here for it! Here’s a list of some of the can’t-miss spots for your trip.
the current ‘it’ bookstore: arcnbook
Arc.N.Book | 아크앤북
Jung-gu, Eulji-ro 1-ga, Eulji-ro 29 | 중구 을지로1가 을지로 29
These book arcs (that do go all the way up the ceiling) have been popping up on all the feeds lately, and become even more magical once you spot the Harry Potter books scattered across them. Arc.N.Book certainly has an old-world charm to it with its billboard-style signs, red phone booth book search stations, and wooden and tile design elements. You can access Arc.N.Book through Exit 1-1 of Eulji-ro Station (Line 2).
our favorite: blue square book park
Blue Square Book Park | 북파크
Yongsan-gu, Itaewon-ro 294 | 용산구 이태원로 294
Of all the ones on this list, Blue Square Book Park is definitely my favorite bookstore because it’s the one that feels most like a bookstore—a quiet place where you can while away the time reading, sipping a hot beverage, admiring the design up multiple floors (I mean come on), and fawning over the unique and novel stationery and other goods (my friend B and I picked up diaries, miniature jigsaw puzzles, and even gorgeous perfume on her trip). You can enter Blue Square Book Park directly from the Line 6 at Hangangjin Station (near Exit 2).
the crowd-pleaser: starfield library
Starfield Library at COEX Mall | 스타필드 코엑스몰
Gangnam-gu, Youngdongdae-ro 513 | 강남구 영동대로 513
Call me Belle and take me to Starfield Library. This is certainly the one that started it all for us, and it has quickly risen to the tops of Seoul hot-spot lists. And for good reason—it’s a stunner! The Starfield Library at COEX Mall has an open floor plan and there are plenty of escalators and edges to go around. (You know, to get your photoshoot on, as you do in libraries.) Once you’ve gotten your book fix, you can explore COEX or cross the street to Bongeunsa, one of the most famous of the Seoul temples. You can access all three at Samsung Station (Line 2), through Exit 6 for Starfield Library.
the oldest of them all: daeo bookstore
Daeo Bookstore | 대오서점
Jongno-gu, Jahamun-ro 7-gil 55 | 종로구 자하문로7길 55
Daeo Bookstore is the oldest secondhand bookstore in Seoul. Apart from the robin’s egg blue facade, it doesn’t look like much from the outside, but trust us on this one. There’s an ‘entry fee’ of one delicious drink per guest which gives you access to the gem of old-school Korea inside. You can pose on the wooden stool like Korean singer-songwriter and actress IU (or like my super cute, pink Pingo bag), tinker on the old piano keys, sit and sip in the traditional room, or enjoy the light coming into the small center courtyard. Don’t forget to stop by Tongin Sweet right across the way for the best egg tarts you’ll ever have.
It would be remiss of us to not mention Kyobo Bookstore, Korea’s largest bookstore chain. The best location is probably in Gwanghwamun where you could probably spend a couple hours browsing through the stationery alone. And finally, a recently popular bookstore we haven’t yet visited (but that I am itching to get to) is Seoul Book Bogo (서울책보고) in Songpa-gu.
Are you a book lover? Which spot is your favorite?