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∙ Current position: Academy of Finland Postdoctoral Researcher, Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Helsinki
∙ Ph.D. dissertation Neighborhood Shopkeepers in Contemporary South Korea: Household, Work, and Locality available online (E-Thesis publications a the University of Helsinki). For printed copies, please contact me by e-mail.
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Monday, October 31, 2005

second-hand books (헌책, 二手書)

After a visit to the Book Fair in Helsinki, let it be noted that Hankyoreh has been running a sympathetic series on second hand bookshops (hônch'aekpang). The latest is titled "Throwing away 'cultural rubbish' and putting only good and selling books". The books that the shopkeeper throws away are included in what he buys from used books wholesalers; the books apparently come in heaps which the retailer cannot see beforehand.
In another piece on a 4-pyeong (13 sq.m) second-hand bookshop in Cheonggyecheon (if two customers come at the same time, one has to wait outside), it is said that May next year, the second-hand bookshops at the reopened Cheonggyecheon will have to move because the market area at the stream will be removed. (I'm not sure what's really going to happen; are the buildings, housing the dozens and dozens of small bookshops, going to be demolished or remodelled to widen the space?)

Cheonggyecheon bookshops
Bookshops at Cheonggyecheon before the reopening
(downloaded can't remember where; a bigger pic opens in a new window if clicked)

Our visit to the Book Fair in Helsinki; the miser that I am, the publishers' displays did not raise my interest, but luckily the second-hand retailers were present in great number, and browsing the bookshelves in those places we spent several hours. Not sure if the prices had been rised for the fair or if the participants were of the more expensive kind of shops. The Korean word, paejjang changsa is fitting for the situation in which several bookshops were asking 25-30 euros for the older print of a book published in 1993 which is available as a 2nd print for 19.90€ in the largest Helsinki bookshop.

"Second-hand"; In my '99 visit to Shanghai I saw the word 二手 in some retail establishments. It was quite evident what the term ("two" and "hand") stood for, even though it was a bit perplexing that the Chinese would be using such a translated loanword. Could it have come via Hong Kong, where the photo to the right is from?

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