Bombom brings literature to life through group reading
Bombom brings literature to life through group reading
  • Jang Min-jeong
  • 승인 2016.03.14 11:45
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Walking into a narrow alley, there is a small cafe located in a somewhat shady area with a cozy appearance. Even though it is off the beaten path, the aura of the cafe seems to greet people. In the cafe, Ewha Voice met Kim Bo-kyoung, a writer and the representative of Humanity Cafe Bombom.
At first, the corner location of Bombom roused curiosity as to why it was built near Ewha Womans University.
“The areas around Hongik University and Sinchon are more specialized in entertainment,” Kim said. “However, I think the streets around Ewha are much less focused on such entertainment, and we are able to enjoy the nostalgic tone of occasional whizzing calls made by trains passing through the nearby station.”
Bombom, established on Dec.12, 2013, soon became well known as a place for interaction through literature by art and book lovers. The main purpose of this cafe is not simply providing a comfortable place to read books with other people. There are several unique aspects of the cafe. The cafe, Bombom welcomes people to attend special lectures from professors or book concerts with poets, where people talk and recite books together as well as singing poems that have been set to music. In addition, people do not merely read together in the cafe but often hold recitation meetings.
In a recitation meeting, people gather in a small group and take turns reading aloud parts from a selected book. However, they do not discuss the books because people might feel reluctant to hold a recitation meeting if they have to talk about the story. Currently, there are about ten recitation programs in Bombom, and many people, ranging from those in their 20s to their 60s and from office workers to singers come to the cafe and participate in the meeting.
However, Bombom was not the first to hold the recitation meeting. The story of Bombom began from one recitation meeting, Book Chorus, which had been held for a few years before Bombom was established. Kim became interested in reading books with people when an abundance of foreign publications of a good quality became available in the late 1990s and early 2000. Despite the profound meanings the books contain, many people tend to hesitate to read them. Then, Kim gathered acquaintances to read the books together. As these meetings continued, he recognized the need to make a space for reading books together.
The idea of a recitation meeting derived from the fact that people often feel pressured by their belief that they have to read complex or thick books. Kim thought that people might have a hard time reading books in their busy lives. However, gathering together seemed to alleviate this problem. Later, Bombom emerged as a continuation of this need for a cultural space.
Another motivation for the emergence of this cafe is that many books have become commercialized, lessening their true value.
“I think it is unfortunate that masterpieces such as The Little Prince and The Stranger are now commercialized rather than being appreciated for their value,” he added. “Therefore, I wanted to spread the reciting culture in which people can easily start reading books with others and understand the meaning of the story deep inside.”
To spread the reciting culture, Bombom has attempted to make people recognize the cafe as a cultural space that can be used in many ways. For example, in 2014, they held a contest for writing short stories and promoted this contest by putting up posters in other cafes. Inspired by Bombom, the frequency of recitation meetings has increased to about 50 nationwide. There is little doubt that Bombom has played an important part in this change.
In contrast to these bright sides of the cafe, there have been economic difficulties since its establishment. However, Kim does not worry about it much because making profits is not  the original purpose of the cafe.
“We merely focus on providing a place to read together,” Kim said. “The financial problem has existed from the beginning. However, the goal of this cafe is not making money but to read books. With the donations and my own effort, I could maintain the cafe.”
Lastly, Kim talked about his plan to expand his work and addressed university students.
“I am planning to make more recitation meetings, while creating manuals for recitation reading,” Kim said. “Also, I hope students read more and learn from what they read beyond what they learn at school. Reading books will teach you how to handle new situations more wisely.”

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