Yesterday I paid a visit to the Korea Foundation’s Cultural Center (한국국제교류재단 문화센터). The center features gallery space, seminar and movie rooms, and a lending library. I also noticed at the center a notice listing times for free Korean lessons. The library is a small but very nice place to visit if you are in Seoul, don’t have easy access to a large research library in the city, and want to read or check out works about Korea, especially in non-Korean languages. There are half a dozen seats, a long sofa, some computers to access the library catalog, and a few thousand volumes available. They also have a collection of recent journals related to Korean studies, a small reference section, a Korean music collection, and a small collection of DVDs of Korean movies.
Full members of the center can check out two books at a time from the library for two weeks (plus one renewal) and can take advantage of their inter-library loan system to get works they don’t have access to. However, in order to become a member you have to be in Korea more than a month, make a 10,000 deposit for the period of membership, and unfortunately cannot get membership immediately on your first visit. According to a librarian there, you have to wait two days or so for your membership to come through.
It is unfortunate that excellent resources like these are often not well known. I remember a very similar small-scale international library in Yokohama, located a dozen or so floors up Landmark Tower that had very few visitors. This made it an ideal as a quiet place to study and get internet access in the middle of the city and I often studied there while a student at IUC. I imagine that there are many visitors to Korea who might be staying or living in the country for some time who may not know that there are these kinds of resources available.
Location: 1st floor of the JoonAng Ilbo Building five minutes walk from Exit 9 of the City Hall Station on Line 1 and 2.
Opening Times: Monday to Saturday 10:30 to 18:00 (until 21:00 on Wednesdays)