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1 Work 237 Members 12 Reviews

About the Author

Includes the name: Hwang Bo-Reum

Image credit: Bloomsbury Publishing authors index

Works by Hwang Bo-reum


Common Knowledge

Legal name
South Korea
Country (for map)
South Korea
Places of residence
Seoul, South Korea



Welcome to the Hyunam-Dong Bookshop follows Yeongju as she is running a bookshop she started after getting a divorce. It is a little slice-of-life book that looks into her life, as well as the lives of her friends and employees.

Each chapter, in its own way, is a memory sandwich: a little bit of present day, a little bit of memory, and a little bit more present day. I really liked this formatting, as it seemed to fit the slice-of-life aspect quite well by slowing down the plot in order to look at the daily lives of the characters. To a certain extent, I think this book celebrates mundanity: all of the characters are now living their lives in a completely different way than what they had initially dreamed and they are no longer pursuing grand plans, just looking to see the good in life as it is right now.

I did think however, that this book was somewhat hard to get into and continue to pick up. It didn't seem like we really saw WHY we were looking at these character's lives until the very end, and I wish we had gotten that right at the beginning. It was almost a little too slow, or about a hundred pages too long, which made it difficult to keep reading.
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Griffin_Reads | 11 other reviews | Apr 21, 2024 |
This book was a recomendation from Instagram. I recently retired from I very stressfull job. Every chapter in this book had a message for me. It made me think about my life and the decisons I made and how those decisions affected my life. There is something for everyone in this book.
kimberlyMerry | 11 other reviews | Mar 12, 2024 |
“As if trying her best to mend a broken friendship from her childhood, she immersed herself into the books, day and night, never leaving their side. It didn’t take long for their treasured relationship to rekindle. The books welcomed her back with open arms without judging the person she’d become, and accepted her for who she was.”

In the wake of her divorce and burned out from a demanding career, Yeongju, a woman in her mid-late thirties, decides to make a fresh start and pursues her dream of owning a bookshop. Being surrounded by her favorite books and the responsibility of running her own business gradually prompted her to embark on a journey of healing and self-acceptance. It’s not an easy road and there will be moments of self-doubt, the stress of running an independent bookshop and unresolved past trauma but along the way, she meets several people who will become an integral part of her daily life – peers, colleagues, friends –those who look to her for inspiration and from whom she receives kindness and support enabling her to effect positive changes in her life.

"Isn’t that what life is about? Forging forward with the answer you have – stumbling along the way and picking yourself up – only to one day realise that the answer you’ve held on to for a long time is not the right one. When that happens, it’s time to look for the next answer. That’s how ordinary folks, like herself, live. Over our life span, the right answer will keep changing.”

I found Welcome to the Hyunam-Dong Bookshop by Hwang Bo-reum (translated by Shanna Tan) to be an insightful, charming and thought-provoking read. There is no doubt of how avid readers feel about the role of books in their lives. A bookshop is a haven for book lovers and The Hyunam-Dong Bookshop is no exception. I loved how the author tackles the theme of second chances, not only in terms of one’s career trajectory but also in terms of relationships. The characters and their struggles are real and relatable. Topics such as divorce, job satisfaction and career choices, loneliness and depression are addressed with compassion, wisdom and maturity. From a teenager on the cusp of adulthood to weary adults searching for direction everyone else in between, Yeongju’s bookshop provides a sense of security, belongingness and community– whether one wants to sit with a favorite book or in a corner pondering over life or share confidences over a cup of coffee. I thoroughly enjoyed the segments on the daily activities involved in running a bookshop as well as the book references mentioned throughout the narrative. It was a joy to read about Yeongju’s love for books, her courage to start over and how she inspires others to effect change in their lives in the course of her own transformative journey of healing and self-renewal.

The narrative does suffer from minor repetitiveness but this does not detract from the overall reading experience. The pace is on the slower side, but this suits the nature of the story. Overall, this is a beautifully penned novel that needs to be read with time and patience.

“Every one of us is like an island; alone and lonely. It's not a bad thing. Solitude sets us free, just as loneliness brings depth to our lives.”

Many thanks to Bloomsbury USA and NetGalley for the digital review copy. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.
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1 vote
srms.reads | 11 other reviews | Feb 27, 2024 |
Feel good fiction has become a trend over recent years (no prizes for guessing why). For me, the bonus has been getting some great stories translated into English. Welcome to the Hyunam-Dong Bookshop has been translated from the Korean, and is a story about a neighbourhood bookshop, its owner, staff and customers. It’s a surprisingly deep story at times as the characters grapple with not meeting the standards of the status quo.

Yeongju is the owner, who left her life and marriage after burnout. She dreamed of opening a bookshop, and she did in a part of Seoul. For the first few months, she’s lost and not sure what to do. Then she takes on Minjun, a barista who also hasn’t followed the life plotted for him. Between them, they work to their strengths and build up the bookshop, drawing in customers. They make friends with their local coffee bean supplier, customers and even authors. As the story continues, they each learn lessons in how to trust themselves and their life path. The story is told almost like a selection of short stories at times, jumping from Yeongju to Minyun and the customers as the focus. It’s almost like ‘the issues with opening a bookshop’ at times. As the novel continues, the flow becomes better and ties into the characters’ pasts and gives them a life outside the bookshop walls. It discusses the relentless slog of study (school and university) and then work, followed by promotion and overtime and repeat. These characters have changed that expectation in multiple ways – from burn out to never being one of the chosen ones to rejecting it entirely. This is handled exceptionally well, with great sensitivity and in practical terms. The story normalises that it’s okay to be different and not to follow the same path as everyone else.

I did find the start of the book a bit stilted and kind of wondered what the point was, but in retrospect it is setting the scene before we get into the characters’ stories. The latter half is more emotional and ‘alive’ as it all comes together. It’s a sweet story with depth that increases over time. At times, it’s a little heavy handed in its declarations, but at other times it states the characters’ issues so eloquently and separates out the causative factors with a lot of insight. It’s happy, it’s sad and it also reflects the day to day life of ordinary people. I enjoyed it overall – initially for the gentle pace, then for the insight into the characters working through their problems.

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birdsam0610 | 11 other reviews | Feb 24, 2024 |


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½ 3.4

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