One of the few weaknesses of the great city of Busan is that the English book selection is abysmal. Most of the big book stores have, at most, a few shelves dedicated to penguin classics, the exact same contemporary fiction and non-fiction books that have been available in every Korean bookstore for the past two and half years, and a healthy dose of Joel Osteen’s shiny white teeth preaching how to “Become a Better You.” (On a side note, my last time around in Korea, I had an adult student who vigorously pushed his collection of Joel Osteen books on me. I borrowed one to be nice. It didn’t make me a better me, but I also didn’t read it.)
Because of this, I was thrilled to hear one of my co-teachers talk about an English bookstore right in my beloved neighborhood of Jangsan. Mrs. Kim’s English books sells new books, used books, and offers book rentals on expensive new hardcover books. It still seems to be in its beginning stages. When I was there, one wall was covered with English books. There were two columns of used books, about three columns of new books, a half column of rentals, and the rest was esl and children’s stuff. The selection wasn’t very big, but it was certainly much more diverse and interesting than the same old stuff the other stores carry. The prices seemed much cheaper as well.
I went in on a Saturday afternoon and the woman working (I’m guessing Mrs. Kim), was teaching English to a group of children. It seems she runs a hagwon there and sells books on the side. Nonetheless, she jumped up and greeted me with a smile and very nicely explained the book rental system. Despite the small selection, I found two books that I’d really been wanting to read. They were both used and I got them both for 11,000 won. (Even flimsy Penguin classics at Kyobo usually cost at least 12,000.)
Everybody should go to this bookstore. Busan needs a better selection of English books, and the more people that go and continue to trade in old books and buy new ones, the better the selection will hopefully get. The woman running the place is so friendly and cheerful that you want her to succeed as well. So, despite being a work in progress, I’d highly recommend Mrs. Kim’s English books next time you’re in the Haeundae – Jangsan area. Go now. Otherwise Joel Osteen wins.
Directions: On the metro you get off at Jangsan and go out exit 10. It’s on the second floor of the building with Kimbap Changuk. There’s a big yellow sign. Buses 1001 and 38 also stop right in front.
View BUSAN! AWESOME! in a larger map