Gwanghwamun (광화문) used to be the capital city during the Joseon Dynasty and is now the main & largest gate of Gyeongbokgong Palace (경복궁) located in Seoul. Besides being the landmark historical site in Seoul, South Korea’s largest bookstore – Kyobo Bookstore Building the original store (교보문고 1호점) is also located there.
To get to Gwanghwamun, take subway line no. 5 (purple line) and alight at Gwanghwamun Gate station exit no. 4, and you will be linked to the basement of Kyobo Building, where the bookstore is.
I still have fond memories of going to this bookstore during my student days back in 2005 (before it was refurbished) to look for Korean Language textbooks from various universities. Although I only buy textbooks there, it was a pleasure browsing the numerous bookshelves & CD/ DVD section. Now that it has been refurbished since Aug 2010, the hallways are much wider & the store looks brighter & more modern. I found this blogpost online that shows wonderful pictures of the Kyobo Bookstore’s new look, check it out: http://nanoomi.net/archives/3076. Too bad I forgot to take some pictures of the store myself.:P
It is easy to realise that Kyobo Bookstore is the most popular bookstore in Seoul, because even on a Thursday afternoon when I visited abt 3 weeks back, there were so many people in the store!
Anyway, if you exit from the bookstore’s main entrance, you will be able to spot King Sejong (세종대왕) statue, located at Gwanghwamun Square nearby.
For more information on the Gwanghwamun Square, check it out at: http://www.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=999517. He was the 4th king of the Joseon Dynasty of Korea.
When you feel tired after a day at Gwanghwamun Square/ Kyobo Bookstore, there are cafes along the street for you to take a rest & relax, or even for you to read your newly bought novel from Kyobo. 🙂 We found this cafe at Olleh Square & ordered a cup of Chai Latte for myself & a Cafe Latte for my friend.
This cafe is filled with senior citizens, or 아주마랑 아저씨들! We wondered if it this because this is located on Sejong Road haha. Olleh Square is a building that houses a concert/art hall and also a place that allows visitors to experience the latest IT products & services from Korea Telecom.
If you are a cultural/historical/ book buff, my guess is, you can spend the whole day here at Gwanghwamun meaningfully. ^^