Korea Trip 2010, Part 10: Namdaemun Marketplace, Part 1

    Holy moly, this post has been backlogged since December!  Anyway, I'm finally posting it and god willing I will finish this Korea Trip 2010 series (for chrissake it's 2011 -__-;;).

    Continued from Part 9: The 63 Building
    To start from the beginning go to Part 1: Flying to Tokyo

    Anyway, this is a two part post of about Namedaemun Marketplace in Seoul. Wiki describes it as a "traditional" marketplace - in my eyes it's the "home basics" marketplace.
    Namdaemun Market is one of the oldest continually running markets in South Korea, and one of the largest retail markets in Seoul. The streets in which the market is located were built in a time when cars were not prevalent, so the market itself is not accessible by car. The main methods of transporting goods into and out of the market are by motorcycle and hand-drawn carts. It occupies many city blocks, which are blocked off from most car traffic due to the prevalence of parking congestion in the area. The market can be accessed by subway or bus; the location is within a 10 minute walk from Seoul metropolitan Hoehyeon Station, Line 4.

    Much of the market is outside, but there are also many stores which line the streets. Many retailers buy their items, particularly clothing, at wholesale prices at Namdaemun, to resell in their own stores in other cities. Namdaemun is a popular tourist attraction.
    So yep, they sell pretty much everything houseware-ish like dishes, pots, soap, ginseng, underwear, clothing, shoes, blankets etc. You can also order custom-made hanbooks (see below) and eat street vendor food.  This is my favorite marketplace in Korea :) even though it's not "targeted" towards younger folks like Dongdaemun Market (if I recall correctly).  There is a TonyMoly, The Face Shop, and Missha shop tho for those interested.  One thing this market lacks is clothing targeted to young folks aka the quintessential "Korean style" street clothing.   The clothing here are for older people. But for me, I love Namedaemun for the amazing range of stuff you can get here for great prices ^_^ You do have to barter *sigh* but you can get wholesale prices if you bargain right.  Naturally, shopkeepers tend to rip off foreigners/anyone who doesn't speak Korean fluently/doesn't know what they're doing but that's the nature of the bargaining world and they need to make a living too ;)

    Fyi, my street knowledge is pretty limited - what I know is limited to what my aunts in Korea told me and my own experiences - so I apologize for any errors in advance :)

    Here's my personal list of stuff I so recommend you buy if you're there:
    1.) SOCKS - I adore the socks I got in Korea. I picked up the most adorable pairs for .50 - $1 USD each and they are the BEST socks I've ever worn.  They fit your foot like a glove and don't get all loose like stupid Fruit of the Loom socks do.  Getting some colored stockings (sock-length tights) and tights (full leg) wouldn't got amiss either.

    2.) Dishes :D My mom brought back a collection of dishes where she only paid $1 USD/dish and in any currency that's a steal!  The only downside is that it's hard to transport but the quality is great plus they come with lovely, delicate prints.  They also sell nice dishes in dollar stores ;)

    3.) Blankets!  We got summer blankets for only $10/each, both twin sized.  We didn't need other sizes but the factory made blankets sold usually have cute prints on it for very cheap.  Of course the downside is getting a huge bundle of blankets back home is an issue but do check out the lovely array of blankets (and pillows).

    4.) Get a custom hanbok made!  I got mine made for ~$120 USD.  I picked the fabric, colors, and style.  The more modern styles tend to be more expensive, I got the most traditional version.  Everything is tailored to fit you though so it took my hanbok about 2 weeks to be completed.  So you may not be able to get one custom made if you're not if Seoul long enough to pick it up.  Most people do offer shipping though.

    5.) For the less well-endowed, scout for a nicely padded bra :D!  I got ripped off (b/c of my poor bartering skills no doubt) but nonetheless, I bought two of the best bras I've ever worn!  They're flesh colored with pretty straps, very comfy, and have a clasp in the front. But most importantly, they come beautifully padded with removable inserts ;) ehehhe  I've been wearing my bras since last summer and they still look brand new. They don't stretch out like my VS bras (which are way too overpriced imho) and are just very well made.  I don't remember how much I paid but I don't particularly regret it.  Fyi - shop sellers sell bras imported from many different countries so they will carry bras labeled with peculiar sizes.  Hence the best way to gauge your boob size is generally just to *ahem* let the shop lady feel your breasts.  It would go down as physical harassment in America, but dude I think it's more legit than measuring your breasts with a tape measure a la Victoria's Secret because girls usually come in wearing heavily padded or ill-fitting bras which the tape measure never seems to account for.  OooOo and get a padded underwear! I totally forgot to get one but I am SO getting one next time to shape out my pencil skirts ^_~

    ....and that's all I can think of for now. 

    In general, this twisty, narrow-alleyed market is a really fun place to explore.  There are so many nooks and crannies to find and you see all sorts of people. It's lovely, raw glimpse of Korea at it's worst and best.  There were lots of foreigners wandering about when I was there too so for non-Koreans, you shant feel too out of place :)

    Now onto the pics!

    Street vendor food :D I know Korea is quite renowned for their tasty street vendor food and my rule of thumb is to try the booths you see the most native Koreans line up ;) ehehe  I had two of these fish/tempura sticks - they were yummy ^^

    Wang mandoos/dumplings!  We bought it in a set of 4 and they were placed in a little black garbage bag looking thing.

    I believe this was pork :) It's been almost a YEAR since I took this picture so I don't remember the taste but it was good. In Part 11, I have even more pics of food~

    Forward to Part 11: Namdaemun Marketplace, Part 2!

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