Friday, May 14, 2010

Keun Young Notebook Review

Keun Young Notebook Review

As if PAS (Pencil Acquisition Syndrome) wasn’t enough, I think I also have NID (Notebook Inferiority Disorder). You see, whilst I want to write profound important stuff in fancy journals, they intimidate me. My drivel isn’t worthy of a magnificent Moleskine, a resplendent Rhodia or a classic Clairefontaine. Something simpler and workman like…a Field Notes or Rite In The Rain, that’s more my line. I feel a little more comfortable writing shopping lists, reminders and other such mundane stuff in those sort of utilitarian notebooks. But even so, they are still somewhat superior products and NID is always there…on the fringes…waiting.
selection of notebooks

Ages ago Kent from PenciLog was reading my, and other reviews of Field Notes and he recalled the simple common Korean notebooks used in yesteryear, that are now rather unfashionable but still reasonably commonly available, and he decided to send me a couple.

I will keep this review pretty brief because these are basic no nonsense simple notebooks.

The brand Kent sent me was Keun Young.
keun young logo

The notebook is the perfect size for me because it fits easily into my pants pockets. At 124mm (5 in.) x 84mm (3 ¼ in.) it is just that fraction smaller than the many pocket notebooks that I always find just a little too big. Maybe I have small pockets? I don’t know.
keun young v field notes notebook

There are 26 un-numbered pages. Top right of each outer corner is day-month-year (I think).
date marking

The notebook can be opened and laid-flat. The pages are stitched together, but then glued to the cardboard cover. The stitches do not go through the cover so this means the back page has a small thin strip glued down its centre so it doesn’t open quite right. But that’s a minor point. Only the back page is affected – all the other pages open properly.
notebook opened out flat

The pages are lined. The paper is “normal” as far as a philistine like me can tell. It works fine with pencil, coloured pencil and ballpoint. Heavy use of a highlighter will bleed through, as will marker pens. I imagine FP ink would too.

Personally the cover design looks basic, old fashioned, economy-grade and "Asian" to my western eyes, but then western eyes are not the target market.
cover design

This notebook has lived in my pockets for a little under 6 months, so you know how much I actually write in it. The cover has taken some abrasion damage, and has some dog-ears, but it has stood up remarkably well. The pages are still solidly attached to the cover and the notebook looks like it could survive another 6 months of life in the pocket.
used condition notebook cover

old and new keun young comparison

It's far to say I had rather low expectations of this notebook, expecting it to fall apart, tear, etc but I have ended up being impressed. In Korea it sells for about 300 Won (27 cents US) i.e. next to nothing. It is a sturdy and durable notebook, and a good size for your pocket. If they got a cover design more appealing to my eyes, offered unlined and (my personal choice) graph squared options then as far as I'm concerned they would be onto a real winner .

cloneHere’s another one. Exactly the same, only different colour scheme and different brand name on the back. So, I guess one printing works – many brands.


Anonymous said...

Any idea where these can be picked up in the states?

Kiwi-d said...

Personaly I'd check out the Dollar Store and similar such places.

Adair said...

The covers remind me of Apica notebooks from Japan, which are rather more expensive and have superb paper.

Stephen said...

Nice post! I find that there are fewer and fewer good paper products available in the price range in between the almost unusably poor quality stuff and the more expensive brands you mention.

I suspect this has to do with the growth of the "paperless office" and the general decline of writing by hand, both business and personal, on a mass scale. I was recently at a "Grand & Toy" (Canadian office supply chain) store, and found writing implements and notebooks/journals to now be back corner items! This is a store that once sold leather briefcases as a supply. Today, it seems that office supplies = computer supplies.

Good for you to find some usable inexpensive stationery.

And I agree with Adair - the cover looks very much like that of Apica.

Kiwi-d said...

Hi Adair and Stephen. I have not heard of Apica...almost too afraid to look in case of NID.

Stephen - I guess the thing that most struck me about this notebook is that at 27 cents I expected very little yet received a lot more than I bargained for.

Time Waster said...

Dave you ever hear of a pencil board? They are popular and collectible in Japan and there is like a few thousands of them on ebay I just checked. Most of them have Anime characters though. The purpose of them is so the paper your writing on doesn't get a indentation on the next page.
I have yet to try one myself though =)

2nd_astronaut said...

working between xmas and new year is really a bad idea. i would cancel it, too :-)

memm said...

Great article. I especially liked the comparison (used / unused note book) and the photo that showed how you use your note book.

Kiwi-d said...

Time Waster - I was sort of vaguely aware of those Japanese pencil boards, their collectability, etc. I actually use a pencil board quite often...but mine just looks like an ordinary piece of cardboard :-)

2nd - normally I agree, but this time was going to be the first ever in my life and it actually suited me this one time, and then it got cancelled!!!

Memm - that was the one and only page I considered suitable for publication :-) I thought the quotes might give an illusion of intellect.

w. davis amelia maritime said...

my fav is hamelin black and reds, it's funny because my pencil and notebook obsession started because it's a digital world, as a ships agent (water clerk) but i found the need to transpose so many things from screen to screen when composing emails, cargo documents, voyage estimates, stowage plans etc.., then taking notes at work of phone calls, that my desk had 200 sticky notes and/or scraps of paper or i would print 100's of pages and toss them when done typing/transposing

would even take home on friday a huge pile of irregular papers with various hand written notes to sort them out

now i keep my 20dollar nice pencil and note book hand at all times, never loose a thing

Unknown said...

FYI: The upper right corner says Year Month Day.

Stumbled across your blog recently. Love reading about mechanical pencils. Thanks!

Kiwi-d said...

Thansk jane.lee