English Bookstores in Seoul
Korea is full of positives, including that it’s becoming so comfortable for non-Koreans to settle down and make a home here. Korea is also so easy to get around. However, there is one thing that a lot of non-Koreans point out as a negative: the small number of English bookstores in Seoul. That is, bookstores that sell books that are not in the Korean language. In other words, bookstores that are friendly to non-Koreans. For this reason, many non-Koreans and Koreans who are not fluent in Korean opt to buy different types of eBooks like the various Kindle products.
Hopefully, this list will help all the non-Korean book lovers out there! This list compiles all of the English bookstores in Seoul
The Foreign Bookstore
Located in the Itaewon neighborhood of Seoul, The Foreign Bookstore is one of the oldest and best English bookstores in Seoul. Around 5-minutes walking distance from Noksapyeong Station (녹사평역). As soon as you enter the store, you’re greeted by shelves full of books that reach most of the height of the actual store, and the store is covered with these fully stocked shelves. Like many other bookstores, The Foreign Bookstore has many kinds of books, including self-help books, books on coffee, books on plants, children’s books, historical books, as well as many fiction books.
One great thing about The Foreign Bookstore is that they don’t just sell English books. They also have French, German, Spanish, and Korean books! The Foreign Bookstore is truly what its name suggests!
The guy who runs the store is a kind-hearted person who is more than willing to help customers find any book. He even offers free services (often called 서비스 in Korean) from time to time!
The Foreign Bookstore opens from Monday to Friday from 10am to 9pm. You can find their website here.
Arc N Book (아크엔북)
This is another bookstore that you will find when searching for English bookstores in Korea. Located near the Eujiro neighborhood, this bookstore has a massive range of books, magazines, and stationery supplies. Although more corporate than The Foreign Bookstore, Arc N Book creates a really nice and comfortable atmosphere. You can search for books on a variety of topics and in different languages. You can also read those books inside the bookstore if you want! There are several designated reading areas through the whole store that you can sit and read in quiet.
As soon as you enter the store, you will see Arc N Book’s signature arc of books, which is where the name comes from. Lining the walls and the ceiling in the shape on an arm are many, many books. It’s a marvelous sight, something you would expect in Harry Potter or Beauty and the Beast! Book lovers are definitely going to love gazing at this for hours on end. In addition to this, like many other bookstores nowadays, Arc N Book has an in-store cafe where you can purchase a coffee or tea drink and sit and chat with friends about the titles you’ve perused. However, books you haven’t purchased yet cannot be seen at the cafe. But when you’ve purchased the books you want, you can also read while enjoying a cup of coffee or tea.
Arc N Book has a regular opening hours of 10am to 10pm all days of the week, and you can stay there for as long as you want. For any additional information, you can take a look at their website here.
Kyobo Bookstore, or 교보문고 in Korean, is one of the largest bookstore companies in Korea. With various locations all around Seoul, Kyobo Bookstore is definitely the most frequented for Koreans and non-Koreans alike. Although there aren’t many English books compared to Korean ones, you will be able to find bestsellers as well as the most popular books in English-speaking countries like the US or the UK.
In addition to books, many Kyobo Bookstores sell stationery as well. You can find pens, mechanical pencils, notebooks, organizational tools, and much much more, making a Kyobo Bookstore popular for not only books, but for school supplies as well. Parents, take note!
Nowadays, many English bookstores in Seoul also have online websites, and Kyobo Bookstore is one of them. Through their website, you can browse millions of titles right from your house and purchase the titles that you want. Although the online store will not give you the physical atmosphere of a bookstore, it is a great alternative for book lovers on rainy days.
Among the names on this list, YoungPoong Bookstore shares a lot of traits with Kyobo Bookstore. They both sell books and stationery, although YoungPoong has less stationery.
YoungPoong also has an online store where you can browse through titles and purchase them.
Bandi & Luni’s
Alongside Kyobo Bookstore, Bandi & Luni’s serve as Korea’s biggest and most prolific bookstore, at least in Seoul. The biggest of all the Bandi & Luni’s stores is the one inside CoEx Mall near Samseong Station (삼성역). Like Kyobo Bookstore, there are hundreds on top of hundreds of books at Bandi & Luni’s in many different genres and on many different topics, fiction and non-fiction.
Seoul Book Center, the owner and manager of various bookstore chains including Bandi & Luni’s is looking to create a new plan to try and jumpstart a new surge of sales. As the world of readers is moving towards eBooks and online bookstores, Bandi & Luni’s and other bookstore chains in and out of Seoul are putting their efforts into keeping the economy afloat.
Book Park (북파크)
Book Park, located near Itaewon, is another fairly less known but popular bookstore. As you can see in the pictures, Book Park has multiple floors with a ton of shelves all filled with books. Like the other bookstores on this list, Book Park also sells stationery. In addition, Book Park sells toys and games for children and has a coffee shop in-store. Holly’s Coffee, to be more specific.
Book Park also creates an environment where you can not only browse and buy books but where you can sit and read books as well. There are several designated reading areas throughout the store, including at the coffee shop. Although you do have to purchase books before taking them near any drinks.
When it comes to secondhand books, Aladdin Bookstore is the way to go. When you enter the store, you will see many bookshelves lining the interior, filled with books, fiction, and nonfiction. Among the nonfiction books, you will find books written on a lot of different topics such as psychology, religion, self-help, and much more. You will also find a shelf dedicated to English-language fiction and nonfiction books.
On a couple of occasions, I have also found books in other languages, including French and Chinese!
Aladdin also has an online store here.
Reading is a favorite pastime for many people, and thankfully, Seoul has a lot of destinations for you to pick up a book or two.
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