A Whole New World

  • Photo by Photo by Jon Breitfuss for Seoulist

    An artful display of various covers adorns the window. Photo by Jon Breitfuss for Seoulist

  • Photo by Photo by Jon Breitfuss for Seoulist

    Unlike a lot of bookstores in Korea that house foreign magazines in plastic wrap, you can actually leaf through the issues. Photo by Jon Breitfuss for Seoulist

  • Photo by Photo by Jon Breitfuss for Seoulist

    Even before you step inside, the front of the store showcases an array of magazines. Photo by Jon Breitfuss for Seoulist

  • Photo by Photo by Jon Breitfuss for Seoulist

    The minimalist store boasts an over-the-top collection of periodicals. Photo by Jon Breitfuss for Seoulist

  • Photo by Photo by Jon Breitfuss for Seoulist

    There’s even a section dedicated to future medial moguls. Photo by Jon Breitfuss for Seoulist

Tucked away in the side streets of Nonhyeon-dong is a studio-like shop called World Magazine that stocks an exhaustive list of foreign titles. Though the store opened its doors just three years ago, the owner has been in the wholesale business for a whopping 17 years. Needless to say, he’s nothing short of a magazine connoisseur.

Sprinkled along the white shelves are colorful book spines imprinted with the celebrated publishing house names of Rizzoli and Taschen that make my heart skip a beat.

As soon as I step through the sliding doors, I’m overwhelmed by the sight of magazines and books I’ve never even known existed. The space is a bright white, serving as a blank canvas for the hundreds of alluring covers unfolding before my eyes. I reach toward and rifle through a Damien Hirst book, For the Love of God: The Making of the Diamond Skull—a flashy tome that retails at Barneys New York for 200 USD. Sprinkled along the white shelves are colorful book spines imprinted with the celebrated publishing house names of Rizzoli and Taschen that make my heart skip a beat. And inconspicuously peeking out under a stack of magazines, I find a vintage 1967 Harper’s Bazaaar for 100,000 won, which I’ll have to pass on—at least until money starts growing from the tree in my imaginary backyard. But not all the offerings here are on the rare (a.k.a. indulgent) end of the spectrum, nor is the place anything close to being pretentious. There are also the ubiquitous titles you expect to see at a bookstore: Vogue, Elle, GQ—though I can venture to guess that people don’t come here just to get the latest issue of Cosmopolitan. The various sections are a bit of a blur as they aren’t labeled in any way, but the organized mess is part of the charm. The thrill of combing through different magazines and discovering something fresh is an experience almost guaranteed at every visit.

The store’s customers are mostly made up of designers (aka people in the know), so it’s no wonder the space is brimming with avant-garde, edgy periodicals. They’re also the exclusive dealer of Vogue Paris—an extremely smart move considering its highly coveted status among those in the fashion industry and a must-have for retail bookstores. But whether you consider yourself a fashionista, a foodie, an art enthusiast, or even a fan of wizards (with Harry Potter leading the way), it’s not just an overused phrase when I say that there’s literally something for everyone.

Jenny Kim

About Jenny Kim

Jenny's worked at various shelter (aka home decor) magazines in NYC, but moved back to her old stomping ground after realizing that unpacking 80 floor lamps wasn't her calling. She loves the smell of books and gets great satisfaction in staring at pretty magazine layouts.

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