Book Alley… Books, Street Art and Coffee

While walking through the subway system of Busan a couple of weekends ago, we stopped to peer at a large map of the area, Nampo-Dong.  Thinking we had explored most of what Busan had to offer, we were surprised to see something intriguing leap out at us – a place named Book Alley.  Been both rather fond of books (we have an entire savings pig dedicated to posting our acquired reading material home in each country!) we knew we couldn’t call the sights of Busan completed until we had made the mission to check it out.

Luckily, a sunny Saturday and a long weekend provided us with just the opportunity to head back to The City with Book Alley in our sights.  

Book Alley was established after the Korean war when small shops were settled in the alley entrance of Bosu-dong crossroads, selling old books from junk collectors and the American army base.  Many of these shops have been here ever since, making it a particularly special place for not only book lovers but history buffs, too.

The long weekend just past was was for Chuseok – the autumn harvest festival where most of Korea (i.e. not us!) are off visiting relatives and celebrating a thanksgiving occasion.  Turns out this provided us with an even more unique view of Book Alley than we could have ever anticipated.

Not surprisingly, there were thousands of books to be seen lining the narrow alley…
But with a public holiday induced mix of both open and closed shops, we were also treated to views of the stunning graffiti that lines all the corrugated pull-down doors of the alley. 

We spent hours wandering the compact area gazing at both books and art.

Tucked away in between two stalls was this intriguing stairwell replete with books and leading to…well…who knows?!
Randomly, the owner invited H-J to head up the stairs and have a look at what lay beyond – and it turns out it was a labyrinth of more books.  He looked pretty chuffed with his collection.  Turns out he hasn’t read everything he owns though.
Continuing on down the street, books and street art mingle together.

Just when this place couldn’t get any more ‘up our alley’ with its treasure trove of books and art, the odd cafe started to appear!  Books, art AND coffee?!  Hell yes!
Not only graffiti lined these compact streets but also sculptures.The details were incredible – even the power poles were themed.
Quotes line the pavements.

Book Alley blew us away – why hadn’t we found this area earlier?!  Actually, its probably a good thing that we didn’t, especially when we stumbled on The Mothership of All Things Good and Book and Coffee…

An innocent stroll down some stairs in one particularly gorgeous looking shop…

led to a beautiful area for reading…
and a quiet coffee!There was only one thing for it and both coffees and books were purchased.  What a way to spend a morning!
Book Alley is now one of our top picks of places to explore in Busan.  Its not only a fascinating and beautiful area but a place also steeped in history.  If you’re interested in reading more about its genesis and significance, check out this fabulous article…and if you can, get your butt along to Nampo and start exploring!

Categories: Art, Graffiti, Korea, TravelTags: , , , , , , , , ,


  1. That would be a very dangerous place for me to go, I’d probably bring back my weight in books.

  2. What a cool place to stumble upon one of your last weekends in Korea. Really enjoyed the pictures.

  3. Thanks for visiting my blog. Your adventures in Korea look quite interesting. All the best.

  4. Busan book alley sounds so ganster!!

  5. WOW! Bet you’re glad someone didn’t tell you about Book Alley after you’d left the country! It’s absolutely my kind of place, and the wall art is fanastic. Loved the little pig stools too. Much love E xx

  6. I love it! So much colour and potential adventures 🙂

  7. I know where I’m going on my next trip to Busan… 😀 Are any of the books in English?

    • COOL! Glad to recommend such a fabulous place 🙂 Yes, there are books in English though you have to dig around a bit. That last place we went to with the downstairs bit and the coffee had quite a few books in all sorts of languages – I even saw an Italian interior design book. We picked up a couple of beautiful, really random books – one, a pictorial book of Busan, the other, a photographic book of skateboarders in various locations in Korea! Very cool!

  8. “Hear, ye! Hear, ye! Read all about it!!!!” I could just see some young boy yelling through the twisted alleys. Great photos.

  9. Hope my upcoming RTW vagabonding will take me to Korea too. Enjoyed your post. Thanks.

  10. What a fantastic place – bet you´re glad you found it!

  11. I’d agree that it’s a good thing you didn’t find this place sooner, or you’d need more than one piggy bank to send stuff home… Some wicked as graf too, jackpot! (loving the new camera)
    Cheeky david, he just gets around!!

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