Visiting a traditional market is a must-do on a visit to South Korea, if only to experience their chaotic yet charming atmosphere. From street food to vintage clothing to oriental medicine, there’s a market for just about everyone and every need. Check out our compilation of the country’s best below.
Gukje Market, Busan
Gukje Market or Nampodong International Market is one of Korea’s largest markets; each alleyway is crowded with stalls, and it connects to Bupyeong Market, Kkangtong Market, and other smaller markets. The market stocks such a wide variety of goods, that you can find almost anything you need right here.
Sinpo International Market, Incheon
Sinpo Market was officially registered as a market in 1970 and now boasts over 140 stores. An increasing number of tourists and international merchants have visited Incheon by ferries and cruise ships, turning the local market into an international shopping area over the past few decades. The information desk and office at the market provide a variety of services (translation, trade and shopping information, etc.) for tourists and merchants from home and abroad. The most famous item of the market is dakgangjeong, a Korean dish of crispy fried chicken coated in a sweet and spicy sauce.
Seomun Market, Daegu
Seomun Market is one of the largest traditional street market in South Korea! It is particularly renowned as a source for textiles and sewing services, a key ingredient of Daegu’s fashion industry. The name “Seomun” means “west gate”, and refers to the location of the market just outside the old west gate of Daegu Castle, which was demolished in 1907. It is also one of the country’s oldest markets, dating to a 5-day market held in the area in the late Joseon Dynasty. In the final years of Joseon, Seomun market was one of the country’s three largest markets. The market was constituted in its present form in 1920. Although portions of the market are in the open air or small buildings, most of the shops are in large buildings holding hundreds or thousands of individual shops. Side streets in the market area also feature many indoor and outdoor food stalls with fish and traditional dishes.
Jeongseon Arirang 5-day Market, Gangwon
The Jeongseon Arirang Market, better known as the Jeongseon 5-Day Market is a leader in agricultural markets across the country. The stalls here still manage to sell all kinds of vegetables from Korean chili peppers to bellflower root to potatoes, garlic and more. Most of the produce for sale is harvested directly by the vendor, providing fresh ingredients at low prices. Jeongseon Arirang Market is famous for medicinal herbs, with many tourists coming a long way to purchase these products.
Seogwipo Maeil Olle Market, Jeju
Seogwipo Maeil Olle Market is a traditional market that was formed in the early 1960’s and is a mainstay in the Seogwipo economy. The interior of the market is designed in such a way that visitors can easily navigate shops and vendors. For customers’ ease, the market offers a free delivery service as well as cultural experience at an outdoor stage installed in the venue.
Nambu Market, Jeonju
Jeonju Nambu Traditional Market opened as a regular public market in 1905. Currently the market is comprised of about 800 stores with 1,200 workers selling vegetables, fruits, food, dried fish, furniture, silk goods, and general goods. As a major market of the gourmet city of Jeonju, Nambu Market offers abundant local delicacies, such as blood sausage hot-pot, bean sprouts hot-pot, moju (sweet rice wine), baekban (traditional Korean meal table with rice, soup, and side dishes), and makgeolli (rice wine) table.
Tongin Market, Seoul
Tongin Market dates to June 1941, as a public market set up for Japanese residents near the Hyoja-dong neighborhood when Korea was still under Japanese rule. After the Korean War the nation experienced a swift rise in population, which led to a natural increase in consumption and demand. As a result, the area’s street vendors and stores used the former Tongin Market area as their marketplace. Now, Tongin Market consists of 75 stores, most of which are restaurants and grocery stores. A very interesting marketplace where you can pop by for lunch. They provide you with a lunchbox to fill up after you exchange your money for traditional coins. Most vendors in the market will accept the traditional coins in return for their street food. You can customise your lunchbox by choosing which street food you want to fill each section with! This is a fun and unique lunch experience that we would love for you to try! There are also some shops selling manufactured goods like underwear and shoes.
Jukdo Market, Pohang
Pohang Jukdo Market first started as a small gathering of local vendors who sold their wares at the large fields of reeds in Pohang Inner Harbor. Now, over five decades later, the market has become one of the largest traditional markets in the Gyeongsangbuk-do area (on the east coast). Along with the Pohang Jukdo Market, visitors will also find the Jukdo Fish Market, only 500m away from Ogeori (the heart of Pohang). The largest open-run market in the east, the seafood wholesale market is made up of 200 raw fish stores, offering the area’s best catches. Nearby restaurants sell quality sashimi dishes at incredibly low prices and in the wintertime visitors can get a taste of Gwamegi, a local specialty of the Pohang area.
If you’re up for an adventure, book your holiday pronto and step right into the shoes of the local Koreans. The traditional markets of Korea await!
Feature Cover Image: Seoul, Pauline Mae De Leon, www.unsplash.com