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Visiting the bookshop Mystery Union in Seoul

The other day, I visited a bookshop in Seoul called Mystery Union and devoted to crime fiction!

Emblem of the Mystery Union

I first heard of this bookshop in the journal “Quarterly Mystery” (issue 62, Winter 2018). In this issue, there is an interview with the bookshop owner YU Su-yeong (유수영).

Mystery Union is situated in a small alley near Shinchon station, and it greets its visitors with a beautiful wooden style exterior and the warm light on the doorstep.

The interior is decorated with taste to convey an atmosphere of mystery and makes you feel you are entering a world of detective fiction. Portraits of crime authors and art work of Sherlock inspired by the BBC series set the tone: this is a bookshop for crime fiction.

Today’s date and a reference to the series Sherlock
Portraits of crime authors and book covers by Mystery Union
Artwork gives the bookshop a unique identity

While Mystery Union is small in size, you will find here a better selection of crime fiction than in other huge offline bookshops of Seoul. A whole wall is devoted to translated crime fiction, and the selection goes far beyond the usual choice of best-sellers and trendy books you would see in general bookshops.

This is certainly the best place of Seoul to buy translated crime fiction!

What interested me the most is, of course, the selection of Korean thrillers, detective and mysteries.

Korean detective novels

A whole section of the bookshop is devoted to Korean crime fiction. It is by far the greatest selection for Korean detective novels that I have seen in an offline bookshop. There were great authors you would expect to find like KIM Nae-seong, KIM Seong-jong, or KIM Jae-hui, DO Jin-gi or SEO Mi-ae. But there were also authors I was not familiar with and had never seen before. I was also glad to find the winners of the Korean Award for Crime Fiction, most of which I could not find in other bookshops.

Section devoted to Korean mystery and detective novels

In her interview for Quarterly Mystery, YU Su-yeong says that visitors are often surprised by the number of Korean books and Korean authors displayed. This is what is great with specialised bookshops: they might be small in size but they offer a unique selection of books, contrary to bigger bookshops who rely on sales numbers to decide whether to keep a title in their stock or not.

YANG Su-ryeon’s book was displayed because it won the Korean Award for Crime Fiction in the category “new author”.

Visiting Mystery Union allowed me to extend my collection of Korean crime fiction:

The four books I bought at Mystery Union

There is the last DO Jin-gi (도진기) 합리적 의심 (Reasonable Doubt), it was published in February 2019, and I wanted to buy it for some time. I also chose a book by SEO Mi-ae (서미애), the Korean Queen of crime. I didn’t know which of her books to pick, but I have finally set my heart on 잘 자요 엄마. The novel 춤 추는 집 by 정석화 is a title I saw for the first time. The summary was appealing so I thought I would give it a try. Finally, I was very glad to find 선암여고 탐정단 by PARK Ha-ik. It won the Korean Award for crime fiction in 2015.

More information:

Mystery Union on Instagram

Go there: 88−11 Ewhayeodae-gil, Sinchon-dong, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul

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