I love Koreatown in the springtime…

Wherein I blog about all things Korean in Los Angeles

Reading Korean August 21, 2007

Filed under: books & bookstores — Raven @ 11:34 am
Tags: ,

I admit it, I love books. Granted, I don’t read as much as I once did, and I have a shorter attention span than I did as a kid (it’s supposed to be the reverse, isn’t it?), so if I’m reading a passage that’s just not doing it for me, I tend to skip ahead, which I never used to do. This means my books now tend to be read less cover to cover and more bit by bit. But I’m still wildly attracted to bookstores. So naturally one of the first things I want to do when I start learning a new language is find a bookstore and buy some books.

My current Korean book resource is the Korean Book Center, located on the lowest level of the Koreatown Plaza near the market end and called in Korean 정음사 (I’m not sure how they get “Korean Book Center” out of that, since I don’t see 한 in there anywhere, but I admit my Korean is limited). They have a huge online presence here, but I prefer to go to the store and browse around.

The store itself is not huge. In fact, it’s quite small, but they manage to do quite a bit with the space they’ve got. You’re certainly not going to find benches where you can sit and read the books instead of buying them (I’ve never completely understood the logic behind that), but you will find a sufficient language-learning section and a large section of English/American classics in translation, which leads me to believe they probably have a good selection of Korean classics in the original, too (I can’t recognize those yet, so I can’t say). About half the store is devoted to non-fiction, which I tend to avoid since I get enough of real life in my, um, real life, but I did notice a nice section on cooking.

This store is where I bought my $40 Korean-English/English-Korean dictionary which has no transliterations and forces me to use the Korean alphabet (yay!). If you’re looking for Korean books, this store is a reasonable place to start.



6 Responses to “Reading Korean”

  1. youngkim Says:

    I always go to the bakery next door. Sometimes I browse the magazines on the rack to see if I’m in it. Yes, I’m that vain.

  2. Raven Says:

    Have you found yourself in them?

  3. DGMC Says:

    I know the owner of The Korean Book Center and asked him personally regarding the English name of the store vs. the Korean. He said, “she (Young Kim) is correct in her observation. The Korean Book Center is NOT a literal translation of 정음사 (which is one of the oldest and first Korean publishers) and is not supposed to be. 정 means ‘right, just or exact’ and 음 means ‘sound’ and 사 means ‘company, business’. Roughly translated ‘pure sound’. It has nothing to do with books. In fact many hear it and it sounds like a Buddhist temple.”

    When the owner took over the family business 6 years ago, he said he put a lot of thought into the English version of the store name. It used to be Jeong Eum Sa. Realistically that is very hard to pronounce and quite awkward. How about “Jung Um Sa” or “Jong Em Sa” or any other combination of letters. It still was not the best for the English speaking population. So he decided “The Korean Book Center” would do nicely.
    Incidentally, the store is the oldest in Koreatown. 30 years this year! They are pricier than other stores, but no other store comes close to their service, expertise, and devotion for their customers.
    Now I’m sounding like an endorsement, but he is my good friend and the store is truly good, so I have no guilt.

  4. DGMC Says:

    Oops, “Raven is correct in his/her observation, not Young Kim”
    Sorry about that 😉

  5. Raven Says:

    Thanks for the very interesting post, DGMC! I think they were wise to pick the English name they did. It definitely conveys to English-speakers exactly what the store is.

    30 years in business, that’s impressive. Please give the owner my best wishes for many more years in business! It’s a great store.

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