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Korean fish markets are one of the truly great cultural experiences in Korea. Noryangjin Market is a huge warehouse with hundreds of seafood vendors. Each of them has tanks full of various live fish. When you go, wander until you see the fish you like. The vendor will pull if from the water, smack it on the head to kill it, then skin and slice it in front of you. Take your fresh fish to the back of the warehouse where there are dozens of restaurants waiting to prepare your dinner. Your total price, depending on what fish you order, will be 20,000-40,000 won per person.
The market is said to have 700 vendors, mostly selling to restaurants. This is known as one of the world's largest fish markets.
This market was featured on Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern on the Travel Channel in 2008 or 2009.
Written May 6, 2013
Gwangjang Market (광장시장) is located in Jongno adjacent to Dongdaemun Market. Gwangjang is best known as one of Seoul's best food vendor alleys, but it is also a great area to buy many other things. Here you can find all kinds of hiking and camping supplies, kitchen supplies, foods, traditional clothing, gifts, silk, handcrafts (including handmade deep fryers), and lacquerware boxes inlaid with mother-of-pearl.
Here is a link to my video at Gwangjang Market: http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/vv/6fb6/
Updated May 5, 2013
Address: 88, Changgyeonggung-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
If you intend to purchase snacks, drinks, or any consumable items, there are a lot of convenience stores open twenty fours a days around the city. However, if you want a "supermarket" type of atmosphere, then you can go to either of four large chain discount stores: Costco, EZ Mart, Lotte Mart, or Home Plus.
The nearest Lotte Mart in central Seoul is located beside the Seoul Station. If you're taking the subway, take line 1 or line 4 and exit at Seoul Station. The nearest EMart is at Yongsan located at the basement and ground floor of I Park Mall beside the giant electronic store. For subway commuters, take line 1 and exit at Yongsan station. The nearest Costco, on the other hand, is south of the river, at Yangpeong. The nearest subway station is the Yangcheon-gu Office.
Most stores have two floors. First floor would be where you would find the food items and the second floor is where the non-food items are located. Majority of the items sold in Costco are in bulk but for the Korean stores, they sell in pieces or if in bulk, the quantities are small. In addition, there is a large fresh produce section wherein they offer a lot of sampling, especially of cooked items. Also, there is an annual membership fee of KW 35,000 at Costco while for EMart and the others, they don't charge any. Finally, there is always a food court beside the supermarket just in case one does not get full just eating the samplesand you have to bring your own shopping bag in case you don't want to pay for them from the store. If you bring a vehicle, parking is free is you purchase a sizable quantity.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
South Korea has the largest online population in the world, with 83 per cent of the country's residents connected to the internet. As such, Koreans love to shop online and they are second only to the United States in terms of the size of the market; which is estimated to be around US$ 10 Billion this year (and growing). There are dozens of internet shopping websites to choose from and the most popular web portal is Korean: www.naver.com/.
While "surfing" the various Korean shopping websites, I discovered only one site, Gmarket, that offered an English alternative. Initially, I was thrilled about this but it did not last long as I realized that the offerings were limited. After placing the order for the few items we chose from the English website, I then clicked on the Korean Gmarket website to check on the items we were missing out on. I would click on the picture of a particular item but the text of the descripition and specifications remained to be Korean. However, I began noticing that the items I had clicked on remained on the rightmost column as a "List of Items Reviewed". I took a chance and switched back to the English site and to my surprise, the list remained on the screen. From thereon, I was able to either save the particular item on my Wish List or purchase this outright because I was in the environment wherein my account resided. Of course, the description remained in Korean so I had to ask the assistance of a Korean to translate for me.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
My best recommendation for a book store in Seoul is "What the book"
They are located in Itaewon, not far from the subway station. The website give address and a map. However, if you live in Korea, they offer shipping to all corners of Korea.
The cater to the ex-pat community, so carry arguably the largest selection of foreign books and authors.
They carry foreign books and will likely be the best bet for any translated copies of Korean books.
What to pay: Prices are relatively competitive, even for the hard to find books.
Written Jun 27, 2009
Many many stores, although products are similar to each other, the feeling was good!
The real good thing is price, cheapest in all Asian airports!! You should try to stop by.
What to buy: Cosmetics, liquor, electronics
What to pay: Credit cards, prices were in USD.
Written Jan 10, 2009
This is a relatively new mall. The architecture is very modern and hip. There are outdoor areas where often events are held. There's a great food court where you place your order at a central register after looking at all the pictures (just take a picture of what you want and bring it to the cash), pay, and then go into the food court and wait for your number to come up at the counter/outlet you think corresponds to the type of food you ordered. Did you know you could get cherry tomatoes on your sundae? And don't ask for a "sundae" - you'll get something else entirely!
There's also a movie theater in the mall.
The rail and subway station are in the same building so it's very convenient to shop here.
Across from the I'Park Mall is one of the Yongsan Electonics Mall buildings. Definitely worth a visit.
What to buy: I didn't actually shop here but I did notice interesting underwear stores and Asian toy stores.
Written Aug 15, 2008
I know I'm A Sucker of Duty Free Shops!
Incheon Airport Duty Free Korea is 25000 sq. ft. area with a different themes for each store. It is subdivided into sections, each one with its own unique ambiance. The Brand they Sell are:
Channel, Hermes, Burberry, Bally, Peter Geeson, Trussardi, Furla, Dunhill, Certi, Nina ricci, Givenchy, Daks, Longchamp, Aigner, Missoni, Hunging world, Dupont, Versace, etc.
Hours: 7:00am ¡9:30pm daily
What to buy: liquor, cigarettes, brand electronics, cashmere wear, Tartan skirts, golf wear, raincoat, accessory (e.g. celtic), Australian top brand Kendone including wool, wine, kangaroo leather, high quality Korean industrial products and souvenir, World Cup souvenir, traditional Korean food such as Kimchi, laver and rice cake. There is even a fast shopping section for busy travelers. Products such as liquor, cigarettes, insam (ginseng) and gift set are sold for quick grabs.
What to pay: Payment: Korean Won, US Dollar, Japanese Yen, Credit Cards, Traveler Checks (Maxx out your credit card!)
Updated Jul 24, 2008
Address: 2172-1 Unseo-dong, Jung-gu, Incheon
Phone: (032) 732-2000
I'm always surprised to see American businesses flourishing in other countries. 7 Eleven is a convenience store where you can buy quick food, drink, magazines and all types of other stuff that you wouldn't be able to get if the other stores are closed. In South Korea, the competition to 7 Elevens would be Storyway.
Updated May 1, 2008
Most HRC I have been to are restaurants with a gift shop attached or within the restaurant. This is actually a night club with dancing. After viewing the map, I thought I could get off the # 4 Metro Line at Samgakji (428) and walk east on Itaewon to get there. Don't! It's tooo far, transfer to the # 6 line to Itaewon (630).
I collect HRC pins as you may have noticed on my various travel pages. Every once in awhile, I will also pick up a shirt or two. I always check to see if there are any HRC where ever I'm traveling to. This one in Seoul was due to open March 2008 but actually opened on April 16th, 2008! Just in time for my visit!
What to buy: American Food, Pins, Shirts, Hats.
What to pay: More than average. Two shirt and two pins cost me 110,00 WON (about $110).
Updated Apr 22, 2008
Address: 119-25 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
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