The fish-stall vendor who became a library director

‘The hope of the future for our world order lies in the villages, i.e. small peaceful co-operatives where there is no compulsion and no force, but where all activities are carried on in voluntary cooperation.”

The above passage is quoted from Village Swaraj by Mohandas Gandhi. Gandhi stressed the importance of villages in his book. Nowadays, Seoul has also become devoted to developing village communities. OhmyNews provides relevant serial articles exclusively in this category. One of them is below.

One can see very closely spaced shops such as clothing stores, snack bars, and fish and vegetable vendors within a bustling market, the Su-yu village market located in Gangbuk-gu, Seoul. This market is called a ‘village market’ since, like a village, it consists of three hundred fifty shops and over ten thousand people. Including the store owners and their employees, it has a floating population of 15,000 people.

It seems like there are no great differences from an ordinary market, however a tiny library attracts one’s attention. How is it possible to have a library in a market?


There is the library sign of Su-yu village market (The upper side of photo)

It has been managed by Jae-gwon Lee, who is a fish shop vendor. He has devoted a lot of time to devour books related to humanities. While exchanging the books with his neighbors, he realized that vendors were also eager to read books, and so he carried forward a plan for building a library with the Market Culture Vitalization Society’s assistance. There are a wide variety of subjects, such as literature, economics, social science and philosophy donated to the cozy library.


The library director Lee is lending the book to one of vendors in market

” I wanted people to realize that it is not true that vendors only obsess over money and have little knowledge,” Lee says.

It has been one and half years since the library opened and also functioned as a gathering places for them to interact with each other. Furthermore, it is open to nearby residents, and library visitors can become market visitors, and have the potential to be loyal customers.

For the original article in Korean:


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Eunbin Ko

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11 2012

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