Finding bargains has just been made easier!

There’s nothing better than finding a bargain, or haggling your way to one, amongst the hustle and bustle of some of Korea’s greatest markets. And unlike the flea markets of the western world, the Korean markets offer some great cheap fashion, food, accessories, home ware and other great products, all of it new, instead of the old second-hand junk you’d find back home.

The most popular and biggest markets in Seoul are the Dongdaemun Market, for the young and the fashionable, and the Namdaemun Market, for a variety of everything you need. Others include the Gwangjang Market, for Korean food; the Gyeongdong Market, for medicinal herbs; the Noryangjin Fish Market; and the 24-hour Garak Market, full of vendors and customers year-round.

 

Dongdaemun Market

The Dongdaemun Market started a long time ago as an open-air market. It wasn’t until the 1970s that the market became the centre of Korea’s textile industry which played a huge part in economic growth, before finally developing into the wholesale and retail fashion industry of Korea. Because of its popularity, it has attracted the attention of various shopping malls that have only continued transforming the market into the major shopping area it is today.

What you can find:

  • A mix of tradition and modernity
  • Fabric and fashion accessories in the older buildings
  • Wedding items, bedding, sporting goods, miscellaneous fashion items
  • International fashion labels and western clothing stores
  • Korean fashion labels trying to make it big in the international fashion world
  • If you’re lucky, a great fashion show or festival

 

Popular Korean pop group, Girls Generation, model their hanboks.

Namdaemun Market

An old one, the Namdaemun Market is over 600 years old. It offers over 1,700 different kinds of products including clothes, ceramics, household goods, accessories, and electronic goods. It is one of the most sought out destinations because it’s unpretentious and because it has the most variety, so if you have a shopping list that covers everything from sporting goods to stationary, this is your stop!

What you can find:

  • Clothes, children’s clothing, ceramics, household goods, accessories, jewellery, kitchen items, electronic goods, wedding goods, stationary, regional specialities, imported products, food
  • Great traditional crafts, souvenirs
  • Eyeglasses at cheap prices

 

Gwangjang Market

Gwangjang Market was the first permanent market in Korea, dating back to 1905. It began as a small market which only offered agricultural and fish products, but has since grown to include everything from silk and hanboks to fruits and vegetables. Although it has these new additions, the real reason behind the market is to find great food. It offers some of the greatest vendor foods like bindaetteok (Korean pancake made of mung beans, pork or beef and kimchi), gimbap, bibimbap, and sundae (not your ice-cream type – this one is a kind of sausage stuffed with meat, tofu and cellophane noodles in pigs intestines). Yum!

What you can find:

  • Silk, fabrics, hanbok, imported clothes, lacquer ware, kitchen goods, imported products, fruits and vegetables, dried goods
  • Memorial ritual goods like food, dishes, and other items for performance the service
  • Traditional wedding items like hanbok (traditional Korean clothing) and pyebaek (wedding food that the bride prepares for their in-laws)
  • Great vendors

 

Gyeongdong Market

Gyeongdong Market started after the Korean War when agricultural food vendors from the Northern Gyeonnggi and Gangwon Provinces, gathered together to sell, sell, sell! The 1960s saw it grow with the completion of a road connecting Gangwon Province with Seoul. From this point onwards, the introduction of medical herbs has created the reputation by which the market is now known.

What you can find:

  • Any and all medicinal herbs
  • Ginseng, honey, cereals, bonnet bellflower, balloon flower
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Tea ingredients like the fruits schizandra and cornus, and Solomon’s seal

 

Seafood on the menu!

Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market

This fish market is the nation’s largest. Over 80 years old, this market is open and busy 24 hours a day, picking up around dawn when the fish auctions begin. About 800 vendors selling fresh seafood are located around the marketplace, and offer prices lower than what you’d find elsewhere. The best part about this market is that once you’ve purchased your fish, you can visit a nearby restaurant and have it sliced raw, grilled, or deep fried for a fee of about 2,000-3,000 won per person.

What you can find:

  • Fish, fish and more fish!
  • Clam, shrimp, crab, octopus, sea cucumber, flounder, sea bream
  • Great restaurants where you can eat your purchased fish
  • Fish auction

Garak Market

Garak Market was the first wholesale market to open in Korea in 1985. Spanning about 543,450 square meters and run by the Seoul Agricultural and Marine Products Corporation, the market is where agricultural and fishery products from around the nation are gathered for distribution and standard prices determined. The fish auction at dawn causes quite a stir, and it can get quite busy, so the best time to visit is between 6-9p.m.

What you can find:

  • Agricultural products
  • Fish and meat products
  • Fish auction