Traditional Markets and the concept of ‘Deom’.

Traditional Markets:

Traditional Korean markets are both vibrant and bustling features where, each day, you can find many diverse and unique experiences worth your time. Marketplaces are alive with the voices of vendors and customers alike, selling their wares with charm, and going about their day. Although many huge chain stores have begun to threaten the marketplace and its many vendors more as time goes by, people still keep visiting these traditional markets for a certain Je ne sais pas that simply cannot be found in large commercial stores.


Image source: ©Popup Market, 01.09.2018,


What is Deom?

Along with their charm, and their inescapably apparent wealth of colour, another reason could well be the culture of ‘Deom’ (덤), or adding additional items to the purchase without extra charge – a unique aspect of the Korean marketplace culture. If you find yourself in one of these traditional markets, you’ll see the prices displayed with the number of pieces written on each sign. Even after filling your envelope (bag) with the right amount, vendors will likely throw in a few extra pieces. This is how the culture of ‘Deom’ works. However, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. In order to benefit from ‘Deom’ more easily, you may try to win ‘Deom’ from vendors by offering some charming and uplifting words to fill them with happiness, such as ‘이모, 젊어보이세요!’(Yi-mo, jeol-meo-bo-ee-se-yo!) (이모, you look young) (*이모 refers to the middle-aged lady).


Image Source: ©Free Market Art, 02.10.2018,


How do you use it?

Actually, ‘Deom’ is a word that is not only found in traditional markets, but also in restaurants. During your lunch or dinner, if you think that there are not enough side dishes on the table, or you’ve already finished some and would like a little more, you can ask for some more side dishes for free by applying this concept. Once ore twice should be okay but remember, do not ask too often.

‘E-nu-ri(에누리)’ is another unique aspect of the Korean marketplace in traditional markets. ‘에누리’ literally means ‘discount’. There’s a saying in the past that goes something like ‘에누리 없는 장사가 어디 있어요?’ which means ‘Every store offers a discount’.. ‘so please give me a discount’. Unfortunately, fewer vendors offer ‘에누리’ nowadays, but with some words that make them smile you will be able to get some ‘에누리’! Now go out there and try them for yourself.

I wish you luck!


Image Source: : ©Market Souvenirs, 02.10.2018,


Featured image source: ©Samzigil Insadong, 01.09.2018,



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