“You’ve chosen the best one that's in here,” the owner tells me as I walk up to the counter. I sense a kind of humor in his tone, then quickly take a look at the 3 syllables printed at the bottom of the cover. Soon I realize that he’s the person who wrote the collection of 108 poems that I was almost anxious to read later. Owner Kim Kyunghyun’s 5 published poetry books and more to come as part of his project are for the—much less than artistic—purpose of paying rent. With what may come across as simplistic, he becomes an example of a poet—in the most honest and humble manner possible—sustaining his life through the act of writing poetry. While Kim’s pieces of writing seem to come from a deeply self-reflective and unpretentious place, they can’t help but shine with the young poet’s ingenuity and wisdom.
Hidden in an alley across Itaewon’s Cheil building, the arrangement of Dasi Bookshop reflects the owner and his work in such a way. Its dim basement space has separate sections where you can take a look at the owner’s selection of books, mostly comprised of independently published poetry and essays, and where you can sit with others or by yourself to read while sipping a drink. Every single piece of furniture and decorating item here is vintage, and without any sense of corniness or cliché—the unique arrangement looks effortless and cozy.
While you’d feel perfectly comfortable drinking wine or beer here during the day, the night time is when this bookstore turns completely into a bar, named Telepathic Powers (Choneungnyeok). Both as a bookstore and a bar, Dasi Bookshop is such an attractive place with a certain dose of familiarity. Opening at noon and closing at 2 a.m., it also qualifies as a beautiful day drinking and night reading spot.