Annyong! Lindsay here.
So, after my recent post about The Calligrapher’s Daughter I started feeling a little bit sorry for everyone in Korea who doesn’t have an English public library they can waltz into to check out a book.
But, that said, there are still ways to get your read on in Korea. There are some great resources (some even free!).
Last year, a group of girlfriends and I started a book club in Gwangju. We met once a month and talked about the book we read (we all shared about three copies) and drank copious amounts of wine (like every book club should do!). It was a club I never thought possible when I first left for Korea. But it’s definitely doable, and even downright easy.
Here’s how to get your hands on some English pages:
- Gwanju International Center–this place is amazing! Not only do they set up weekly talks and monthly outings, offer Korean lessons every other day, and publish a monthly magazine, but they also have an ever-expanding library. It was my lifeline to literature in Korea. They’ve got everything. (And they never get mad when you accidentally keep a book for a year). When we recently left Gwangju, I dumped about 20 of our books there that we collected. And so do many other foreigners. So the collection keeps on growing!
- What the Book— This Seoul (Itaewon) bookstore offers just about everything: magazines, books, English learning materials, games, etc. And anything they don’t have, they’ll order. The best part about it is that if you don’t live in Seoul, you can easily order online and do one of those nifty bank transfers in Korea. So easy! And your book is at your doorstep by the end of the week!
- Swap with friends--This is the easiest and cheapest way to get a book. Take advantage of the foreign community in your city and do some book swaps. My friends and I swapped constantly. And when people are getting ready to head out of Korea after their contract ends, make sure to help them take any books off their hands!