Bucheon, South Korea

Bucheon became the 21st UNESCO City of Literature in October 2017, on the same day as Durban (South Africa), Lillehammer (Norway), Milan (Italy), Utrecht (Netherlands), Manchester (UK), Québec City (Canada) and Seattle (USA) joined the existing 20 Cities of Literature in the Creative Cities Network.

Bucheon is an aspiring city of culture, located between Seoul and Incheon with a population of 870,000. Its literary tradition is strongly tied to the likes of Byun Yeongro and Chong Chi-yong, forerunners of Korea’s new poetry movement, active during the first half of the 20th century.

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Bucheon is home to 529 registered publishers, as well as a strong library system, operating many education programmes for students and the general public. It has two higher educational institutions, The Catholic University of Korea and Sungkonghoe University, where Korean literature, English literature, East Asian literature, and French literature are taught.

The Bucheon International Comics Festival takes place every year, with The Korean International Comics Market – a comics copyright business programme — taking place at the same time. The city hosts various other comics-related international events, such as the Global Webtoon International Conference, the Korea-China Comics Contents Forum, and the Webtoon Playground Conference.

The first literary festival held in Bucheon was the Suju Literary Festival, named after the famous poet Byun Yeongto’s penname, Suju. It features a poetry contest for the public as well as various side events. The Pearl Buck Festival is also hosted in the city, in commemoration of Pearl S. Buck, a Novel Laureate in literature. There are a number of other literary festivals drawing on the active participation of the local community, such as the Youth Theatre Festival, poetry and essay contests, and library festivals.