I just returned to Work last week after my 10 day vacation, during which we finally made it out to Paju Book City. As you can imagine, it is a suburb or small town set in the Paju area, dedicated to all things books. There are around 250 publishing houses, Printers, book shops, cafes where you can sit and read.
The architecture here is also really refreshing after being in Seoul, things were smaller, more human scale and the designs were clean and modern. This could be atributed to the fact that seould grew at break neck speed from nothing to a metropolis in 50 years with little coordination or planning in terms of the visual landscape when compared with how PBC has been and is being built up. Several architects were tasked with bringing harmony and coherence, though I will say it is a hard balance between organic development and these planned development. Its a lot like when humans try to immitate nature in planting gardens; things just feel a bit plastic, too orderly, too clean. I guess the utopian ideal would be Organic development with people commited to quality design and consideration for humans and their needs as active participants in the city.
Back to PBC, Ground was broke in 2001, making way for the Asia Publication Culture and Information Centre, a hulking, rusty, boxy complex filled with cubbies containing the private libraries of some of Seouls academics. It was really fun to browse their readings, many of which were English language books. There is also a cafe with an expansive seating area overlooking a small body of water and shelves of books from top publishers that you are free to read; they even have book stands so you dont have to hold your book while reading and eating or drinking.
Besides the books and architecture I wanted to head to Book City to look for a letterbox. It hadn’t been found since it was planted and I failed at finding two other boxes planted by the same planter of this one. It was missing as expected but I came prepared to plant one of my own.