Seoul Metropolitan Library

While a library sounds like the last place you’d go to enjoy Korean culture, the Seoul Metropolitan Library (서울도서관) has much more to offer than Korean books. For example, before being repurposed as a library, the building served as Seoul’s city hall. Parts of the old offices are still preserved on the 2nd floor and is open for the public walk through. There videos of the growth of Seoul playing in certain rooms, and you can also see the various celebrities that have passed through Seoul as well. The old mayor’s office is also preserved, and there are actually stacks of papers with photocopies of original documents that were in circulation when the office was still running!

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On the third floor of the library, there is a memorial dedicated to the sinking of the MV Sewol. This accident was devastating for Korea at the time, and many people were upset and confused because there were no clear answers. This memorial not only honors those who lost their lives, but also the outreach that came from around the world. Even Pope Francis, leader of the Catholic church, was so moved as to wear a ribbon to honor the memory of those lost.

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On the 4th floor of the library, there is a section dedicated to literature from around the world. Here you can find literature on a variety of subjects in languages including English, French, Filipino, Russian, Chinese, Spanish, Japanese, and many more. There is also a special room devoted to literature on Korean culture in different languages. I was able to learn a few things about Seoul through the books that were in the collection!

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The 5th floor was a major surprise to me: there was a garden observation deck that gave a wonderful view of the city hall area! The garden is well maintained and is an excellent place to sit and relax for a few minutes. There is also a café on the fifth floor, so it’s very easy to grab a snack to enjoy while enjoying this beautiful garden! The observation deck also gives you a view of the modern marvel that is the new Seoul city hall, which is built right behind the new building. In addition to this, there is a small exhibit that displays the historical value of the building itself, with former parts of the building being shown. I found this interesting because many of the parts were in awful condition, so I was impressed with how much work has been put into maintaining this building!
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How to Get There and Other Information

Take either Line 2 (Green Line) or Line 1 (Blue line) to City Hall Station (시청역) and come up through exit 5. You’ll find yourself in an open plaza, and the Seoul Metropolitan library will be the building behind the exit. If you’re coming via Line 2, be aware that exit 5 is in the Line 1 part of the station.

If you’d like to check out a book or access some of the other resources the library offers, you’ll need to register and obtain a library card. In order to do this, you’ll need your Alien Registration Card and your passport. From what I’ve read on the internet, the application form is in Korean, so you may want to bring a Korean friend with you if plan on registering for a library card.

 

Article by Eli from the U.S.A.

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