Established in 1905, Gwangjang Market is South Korea’s oldest running daily market. I’d read about this market a couple of times when researching trips to Seoul, but nothing I’d read made me feel like I needed to go to this market. Well let me just tell you, go ahead and add it to your list, because this market is a must see! A quick disclosure, markets are one of my absolute favorite places to go when visiting different countries. I love them because in a short time and small space you can learn an immense amount of information about a culture. You can see what people in that country eat, how it’s made, how it’s sold, how people interact with one another while sharing a meal, and so on. I thoroughly enjoy markets and found Gwangjang Market in particular to be a fascinating cultural experience. Gwangjang Market lies across the street from the Cheonggyecheon Stream and is very unassuming from the outside. However once you leave the sidewalk and make your way inside, all of your senses are engaged. The market is very popular thus crowded and you will be elbow to elbow with all the others coming to take a look as well as those searching out their next meal. The aroma of cooking food fills the entire space while the bright lights and colorfully dressed ajummas are a feast for the eyes. With so many people talking, cooking, eating, and laughing you can imagine the noise level, but instead of being annoying all the clamor creates a happy vibe. Last but certainly not least, the food. Plates stacked high with dumplings, roll upon roll of kimbap, bindaetteok, soondae (blood sausage), pigs’ feet, and bibimbap, are just a few of the specialties available.
Mung beans being ground for bindaetteok.
If you are a really adventurous eater, you won’t be disappointed. Check out this menu from one of the food stalls.
Young, old, and everyone in between seemed to be having a good time.
Sipping Makkoli from a traditional style bowl.
I enjoyed this market so much that I went two weekends in a row! The food stands are open seven days a week, usually from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. I hope that if you go you enjoy this all encompassing experience as much as I did. 🙂
Directions: Jongno 5-ga Station (Seoul Subway Line 1), Exit 8.