Bucheon is famous for its well-organized library network comprising 128 libraries in total, including 13 city libraries, 21 small public libraries that are operated throughout Bucheon City, 70 small private libraries that were started and are operated autonomously by citizens, 18 miniature libraries (Spore libraries) that were built in places such as markets and offices where many people gather, 2 smart libraries, which are operated automatically in subway stations, and 4 university libraries that are open to the public as well.
Bucheon provides the writing program, Everyone is an Author, so that all residents can write a book based on their own life experiences or other topics of their choice. Building on 18 years of work to promote reading among local residents by expanding the facilities and services of public libraries, the city aims to help residents become literary producers as well as consumers.
This program consists of three courses of ten classes: basic, intermediate and advanced (specialized). In April 2018, twenty residents published their own books upon completing the specialized course, and a total of 18 works by citizens are displayed in the Citizen Artists’ Corner on the first floor of Sangdong Library. Those who have completed the course are also serving as teachers in schools, libraries and welfare centers to pass on what they have learned to others.
Bucheon's Reading Marathon invites participants to complete a chosen course by steadily reading books, as if they were running a marathon, with the goal of developing regular and healthy reading habits. By converting pages read into meters and completing the target distance, participants will receive not only certificates, but also a variety of other benefits. Certificates are awarded at the end of the year to those who complete their chosen course.
Around 2,000 people participate each year in the Reading Marathon, which started in 2014. Reading Marathons start in April each year and certificates are distributed to outstanding participants in December.
Bucheon sets itself apart from other cities by its comics and cartoon (manhwa) industry. The cartoon industry is closely linked with literature. In the East Asian literary tradition, illustrations were an important device in explaining text and helping readers to understand the contents. This practice of using pictures and explanatory text together is important in East Asian publishing tradition. In the novels and other literary works of East Asia, the pages are divided in half with pictures at the top and text below, or text is placed on one page and illustrations on the opposite page. The comics and cartoon industry of today is influenced by and continues to build on this literary tradition.
Bucheon has instituted several literary awards such as the Suju Literary Award, Pearl Buck Literary Award, and the Bucheon New Writers Award. Moves are being made to develop the Pearl Buck Literary Award into an international award in the fields of diaspora and minority literature. The New Writers Award is serving as a channel for the discovery of new literary talent.
The 17th Bucheon City Book Festival was held in 2017 under the theme of ‘The Life-changing Power of Literature’. Twelve programs were organized in cooperation with small libraries and school libraries to celebrate Bucheon’s designation as a UNESCO City of Literature. Bucheon City Book Festival has evolved into a leading regional book festival that helps to boost the local economy.
Bucheon also hosts a number of literary festivals in honor of writers connected with the city. The Boksagol Arts Festival, which takes its name from the old name of the city, Boksagol (meaning ‘peach blossom valley’), is a celebration of all the arts. The major literary festivals include the Suju Literary Festival to commemorate Korea's pioneer of new poetry Byun Yeongro, whose pen name was Suju; A Distant and Beautiful Place Festival in honor of Yang Gui-ja and her novel of the same title; and the Pearl Buck Festival, in memory of the Nobel laureate who founded an orphanage for war orphans in Bucheon and wrote a novel about Korea.