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[Eye Plus] Indulging in books near the border

When you think of Paju, a city in Gyeonggi Province northwest of Seoul, the first thing that comes to mind is its vicinity to the de facto border with North Korea.

Driving along Jayuro toward Paju on a good day, you can even get a glimpse of the northern side. Paju, through which the Imjin River flows into the Han River, was loved by ancient sages. As if to live up to its heritage, the city has developed into a cultural site for visitors in recent decades.

At the heart of the city’s culture are books, and Forest of Wisdom is representative of this -- a literal forest of books emanating the nostalgic scent of paperbacks.

When you open the steel door of the Forest of Wisdom, you will be overwhelmed by 8-meter-high shelves filled with books donated by scholars, intellectuals and research institutes. Everywhere, from the shelves and windows to tables, book lovers can be seen absorbed in reading, looking cozy as if they were in their own study. It is where they meet a new world by thumbing through pages. 

Inside the Forest of Wisdom, there is an exhibition of typewriters loved by popular writers, including Ernest Hemingway, Oscar Wilde and Hermann Hesse. It also tells the history of the typewriters that were the motivating power of their masterpieces. 

Outside of the Forest of Wisdom, there sits the Museum of Pinocchio, where you can travel to the wonderland and fairy tale. 

Walking through the entrance, greeted by cute statues of Pinocchio, Geppetto and others, you will meet some 3,000 craft work on Pinocchio.

Paju, sitting closest to the painful division of the two Koreas, has indeed become a tranquil destination for visitors seeking serenity.

Photo by Park Hyun-koo
Written by Shin Ji-hye