Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Novel Quest

As of late I've gotten zealous inclinations to start writing and reading more. A result of this zeal has been my desire to find bookstores in Daejeon, more specifically, bookstores with an English section. A mission that is proving to be somewhat difficult... although Daejeon is a city with about 1.5 million people, there is not a large ex-pat community, compared to other major cities in Korea. Thus there aren't many foreigner friendly bookstores. That being said, today I had a small success!

I went to Eunhang-dong in search of a supposed bookstore, 계룡문고 (Gyea-rong-mun-go... approximate). This bookstore is actually listed on the Daejeon city website- which it turns out gave inaccurate directions, as it had moved and was no longer in the listed locale. Today I learned that the internet cannot be trusted when it comes to matters of such import as a bookstore's location.

It was disheartening to get to where the store should have been only to find it had been replaced with Noraebangs and Cafes. I wandered for a while thinking that maybe I would chance upon it- no such luck. Fortunately I have a Korean informant who's quite familiar with the happenings of Daejeon and I had the grand idea of contacting her. She informed me that the bookstore I was looking for had moved and that it wasn't that far away. Huzzah! I was given a general area to search and a typed out sentence to show people if I needed help. (계룡문고 어디로 가는지아세요? Do you know how to get to Gyearongmungo?) Thanks, Luka!

Off I went! I didn't end up having to use the sentence, my bibliophiliac sense kicked in and brought me straight to the store. It's the basement level of a building about 100 metes past the Galleria out Exit 6 from Jungangno Subway. There's a pole with the store name on it, 계룡문고, as well as a few signs on the building. Here's a map that should be mostly accurate.

View Daejeon Bookstores in a larger map

As far as the English section goes... well... small. I've recently become fascinated with Mark Twain, so I bought out the entire Twain section- all two books, Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. Total cost was 15,100 Won- not bad at all! Other than Twain, which I feel very lucky to have found, the pickings were slim. One Hemmingway novel (19,500 won paperback), Lord of the Flies, Of Mice and Men, Johnathan Livingston Seagull (I taught this book two years ago to 7th graders in the US), Harry Potter, Twilight, Chicken Soup books, and not much more... they had a lot of abridged books with both English and Korean- think Heaney's Beowulf- which might be cool? I guess... Anyways, the "Paperback" section was a little despondent, but I still managed to find books to bring home! The best part of the experience was just being in a bookstore and browsing some English books for the first time since my arrival in Korea. There are supposedly more bookstores in Daejeon that await my discovery... I'll let you know how it goes.

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