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Dae-Oh Bookstore: The Oldest Bookstore in Seoul Now Operates As A Cafe, Was Visited By IU & BTS RM

Dae-Oh Bookstore

Seochon Hanok Village, where the famous Tongin Market is located, also happens to be home to Dae-Oh Bookstore, the oldest bookstore in Seoul. Hidden in between traditional hanok houses, the historical bookstore has been visited by some of the biggest names in Korean entertainment, including IU and BTS’ Namjoon.

Traditional interior & exterior preserved over the years

Dae-Oh Bookstore - exterior of the bookstore
Image credit: @doilyberry

Established in 1951, Dae-Oh Bookstore has managed to remain largely unchanged over the year, with its historic tiled roof, classic sliding doors, and its old signboard painstakingly preserved. 

Dae-Oh Bookstore - bookstore as a cultural attraction
Image credit: 사랑스love 

Thanks to this, Dae-Oh Bookstore has become a cultural attraction for locals and tourists alike. Hence, the origin and history of the bookstore can be found displayed on a sign outside the shop in both Korean and English. 

Dae-Oh Bookstore - renovated interior of the bookstore
Image credit: 프리

Though key parts of the bookstore’s exterior have been untouched, the interior has been renovated in order to accommodate a gallery-cum-cafe. Nevertheless, most of the shop has been kept as it was before. Vintage accessories such as spinning tops, toy figures, and old textbooks are littered around the bookstore, evoking a sense of nostalgia in visitors.

Dae-Oh Bookstore - bookstore that used to be a living space
Image adapted from: 장서타, @tkfkdakdmf114

Within the bookstore are rooms where the owners used to live. Even though the owners have since moved out, their belongings remain. Antique furniture and objects such as an LP player, rotary dial phone, and grandfather clock are displayed, creating a sense that the rooms have been frozen in time. Before you enter these rooms, make sure to take off your shoes so as to keep the place pristine. 

Dae-Oh Bookstore - bookstore with a retro vibe
Image credit: Clara Quek, 레몬과자

Further adding on to the retro vibe of the place are old-school earthen pots, plate cameras, and vintage stereo radios placed outside the bookstore.

Old books, postcards & drinks on sale

Dae-Oh Bookstore - beverages in the bookstore
Image credit: @__sunny.sta

As Dae-Oh Bookstore now operates as a gallery cafe, visitors must buy a drink before entering the cafe. Beverages served include cafe staples such as americano, cafe latte, and lemonade.

Dae-Oh Bookstore - old books
Image credit: @petit_1003

At the bookstore, you’ll find old books hailing from your grandparents’ era. As not all items in the bookstore are for sale, make sure to look out for the price tags.

Dae-Oh Bookstore - merchandise
Image credit: @petit_1003

If none of the books catch your eye, fret not as Dae-Oh Bookstore sells their own merchandise, which double as souvenirs. We recommend getting the Dae-Oh Bookstore Gift Set (KRW10,000, ~USD7.10), which includes a notebook, bookmark, pencil, and postcards. Treat yourself. 

Dae-Oh Bookstore - calligraphy art
Image credit: 프리 

Calligraphy art framed with dried flowers are also available for sale, with the biggest 5in x 7in frame going for KRW25,000 (~USD17.57)

Visited by RM & IU

Dae-Oh Bookstore - BTS RM visiting the bookstore
Image adapted from: @BTS_twt

If you are a BTS ARMY, the Dae-Oh Bookstore may look familiar to you. Namjoon has visited Dae-Oh Bookstore twice, once in 2016 and another time in 2019.

Dae-Oh Bookstore - IU’s My Flower Bookmark album
Image credit: Kakao Entertainment Corp.

Meanwhile, Uaenas will recognise the bookstore from IU’s My Flower Bookmark album cover. The album included 7 remake songs from the 1980s and 1990s, which makes Dae-Oh Bookstore a fitting spot for the cover photo.

Watch the behind-the-scenes footage of IU taking her album cover photos here:

Video credit: 1theK (원더케이)

Dae-Oh Bookstore - Namjoon in the bookstore
Image adapted from: @BTS_twt, @joanne_shlz

These days, Dae-Oh Bookstore is popular with fans who visit the place in order to recreate the photos taken by IU and Namjoon.

Getting to Dae-Oh Bookstore

Dae-Oh Bookstore - exterior of the bookstore
Image adapted from: @dreamymegane

When you’re done looking through Dae-Oh Bookstore, explore the rest of the Gyeongbokgung area and fully immerse yourself in traditional Korean culture. 

How to get there:

  • Take Line 3 to Gyeongbokgung Station and leave by Exit 2.
  • Walk straight for about 380m, then turn left and walk for 140m.
  • Turn right into the alley, then walk for 37m and you’ll arrive at Dae-Oh Bookstore.

Address: 55 Jahamun-ro 7-gil, Cheongunhyoja-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Opening hours: 12pm-9pm, Daily
Contact: 02-735-1349

Also check out:

Cover image adapted from: @s._.ldl, @BTS_twt, @hi.hyein___