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Inside Gagarin (PHOTO: Lee Su-hyun)

Inside Gagarin
(PHOTOS: Lee Su-hyun)

We all like new things. But even in these modern times, vintage items can provide us enormous inspiration. Used book stores are a great source of them. A special used book store is Gagarin in Tongui-dong, Seoul.

Gagarin is a small and simple used book store on the outside, but contains all kinds of things inside. They not only sell used books, but other handmade or used items such as limited-copy indie magazines, hand-colored comic books, vintage Coca-Cola bottles — even paintings by artists! Gagarin seems more like a small museum than a mere book store. Customers who browse the store will probably feel like they’re on a treasure hunt!

Another reason that makes Gagarin special is the story of how the store came to be. For a long time, Tongui-dong has been called “the town of artists” because of the many artists who live there. Tongui-dong has its own artistic atmosphere that has made it famous. A few years ago, however, a big chain restaurant made plans to move into Tongui-dong to capitalize on the artistic atmosphere of the area. Some artists, who didn’t want the area spoiled by such an eyesore, collected money and opened Gagarin to protect Tongui-dong from the franchise. The story of the artists’ love of their town is a source of pride in Gagarin.

Do you want to know something else interesting about the store? They will also sell your items on consignment! That means we can be sellers as well as customers. If your goods are sold, you can receive 70% of the selling price, while 30% gets donated to the store and Tongui-dong. In short, any of us can help run and preserve Gagarin!

Outside Gagarin (PHOTO: Lee Su-hyun)

Outside Gagarin

If you’re ever in Tongui-dong and see a small white sign that says “Gagarin”, don’t hesitate to go in. You may find a great treasure in there!

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