▲ Lee Dongjoo and Kim Junsoo, founders of Jidam Book Café. Photographed by Baeg Hawon
A new book café, located in Chamsari Gil, Anam, will be a third place of healing for many. Welcoming all Korea University (KU) students, Jidam, a coffee house full of books, finally had its grand opening last December. This humanities bookstore was brought together by 14 KU graduates as a dedication to their junior colleagues. Furnished with collections of essential reads specially handpicked by the seniors, Jidam is the perfect place for students to surround themselves with the world of knowledge.
A dim light of a café quietly shines on one of the evening alleyways of Chamsari, Anam. The classy calligraphy brushed in black on a white signboard, attracts people indoors. On December 23, 2016, the new humanities bookstore for all KU students was opened. It was planned and constructed by 14 graduates of KU who entered in the year 1990. They were motivated with the idea that it could provide their juniors a place to read and rest.
Kim JunSoo (’90, Sociology) and Lee Dongjoo (’90, Business Administration) are the two main founders and current staff in charge of the book cafe. The Granite Tower (GT) was able to sit and talk with them in depth about the start-up story of Jidam. “My daughter told me that she could not find a decent humanities book store nearby school. I felt sorry because there used to be many when we were in school,” Lee explained. He added that when the graduates have noticed that there were no more shops around campus, they decided to raise funds to bring the old-time memories back for their juniors.
The name of the book café, Jidam, means filling in with knowledge. In fact, the name originated from the duplex structure of the café, exuding an impression that the place is filled with piles of books. It even has a section called “Recommended by the Seniors,” which is sorted with old books donated by KU graduates. These secondhand books are sold for one fourth of the original price, along with a free cup of coffee. Kim and Lee agreed they are grateful that the school members have been very supportive throughout their project. They now hold about 2,100 books and are expecting many more to fill the empty shelves in the future. The café also provides a spacious seminar area, which can be reserved in advance through calls or messages. Unlike the usual group study rooms, they are offered for free at all times.
What is unique about Jidam is that it is not a business-oriented bookstore, but a place for communication and exchange of knowledge. Lee said, “Our ultimate goal is to bring students together to learn and share.” Kim and Lee explained that they are also planning on arranging various activities in the near future, one of which is inviting authors to the café for open sessions. Kim added, “We hope that students will be able to take full advantage of Jidam as much as they want.” He encouraged students to help fill in the bookstore and get involved in building up this very special community.