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Gwangjang Traditional Market in Seoul

Recent Posts, Posted by Matt in ALL DESTINATIONS,Food & Drink,Seoul,Shopping,Video, 18 Comments

Gwangjang Traditional Market in Seoul


Gwangjang Traditional Market in Seoul has become a popular destination for foreign visitors. While it’s understandable that many Koreans are eager for foreign tourists to visit Seoul’s glitzy high rises, luxury malls and top-tier hotels, in my experience, travelers to Korea are usually eager to see what makes the nation and culture unique, and are looking for places that are unmistakably Korean. For them, I can’t think of a place that does this better than a public market, like Gwangjang Traditional Market (광장시장).
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Despite huge competition from discount chain stores and facilities that can provide conveniences like free parking, Seoul’s traditional markets are holding on. And thank goodness for that! They retain a special charm that makes them a “must-see” on any tourist’s Seoul itinerary. Thankfully, the city government has realized their important role to citizens and visitors alike, and has allocated support for their modernization.

Traditional hanbok on sale from Gwangjang Traditional Market in Seoul (광장시장)

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Among Seoul’s many traditional markets, Gwangjang Traditional Market in Seoul was the first to open as a daily market. Established in 1905, it’s actually far bigger than it looks, with 5,000 independent shops and an entire upper level dedicated to high quality silk, satin and linen. It’s one of the best places to have everything from bed sheets to traditional Korean hanbok custom made for you. In fact, many of Gwangjang’s vendors supply Namdaemun Traditional Market (남대문시장) and Dongdaemun Fashion Town (동대문시장) merchants with their fine-quality textiles.


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On the market’s central ground level, the floor space is dominated by scores of pojangmacha snack stalls selling delicious snacks like red bean porridge called patjuk (팟죽), jokbal pigs’ feet and sundae (순대) blood sausage. But the treat that Gwangjang Traditional Market in Seoul is truly famous for is its delicious bindaetteok (빈대떡). Resembling very thick pancakes, these crispy morsels will run you less than four dollars, which is a small price to pay for your own piece of Gwangjang Market’s rustic delicacy. Watch as the hard-working vendors cook their mung bean batter seasoned with meat and vegetables into sizzling pancakes while steam rises into the air. It’s an especially beloved treat in the winter or on a rainy day. Matched with some makgeolli rice wine and a simple soy and onion dipping sauce, I can’t think of a better way to spend a cold or wet evening!

A view of the market’s main intersection from Gwangjang Traditional Market in Seoul (광장시장)

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Despite the crowded floor space, Gwangjang Traditional Market in Seoul features high ceilings topped with domed glass and an interior lit by naked bulbs hanging from every stall. The ubiquitous red aprons designate the vendors from the customers, and frankly, it’s a little bit exhausting to consider what it would be like to work there all day. Keep in mind that many of the food stalls remain open until midnight (but arrive before 21:00 for the best selection).

Delicious bindaetteok from Gwangjang Traditional Market in Seoul (광장시장)

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On a recent visit to Gwangjang Traditional Market in Seoul, it seemed like the food vendors were doing pretty well. There was a fun mix of curious tourists and well-heeled groups of salary men and women and retired folks who were all enjoying an early evening stop for snacks and a drink… or three. Be it the boisterous banter between customers to the delicious and inexpensive treats, Gwangjang Traditional Market displays Koreans’ enthusiasm for good food and conversation, and is one of Seoul’s most exciting destinations..
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For your information…

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Vintage Clothing Market: 07:00-19:00Free Admission, Bindaetteok: ₩4,00002-1220
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Jongno-gu Yeji-dong 6-1Jongno-5(o)-ga Station (#129) on Line 1, Exit 7website
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18 Comments

24 January 2011 05:28

RealityZone

Another great and informative post.
I only wish you would post more often.
And possibly be able to get out in they country side more often. :-)

24 January 2011 09:59

dwi

hai matt ….am planning to visit korea this coming may ..Is it safe to travel now ? thank you matt ….i love ur blog

February 16 2013 16:05 pm

Name

its realy amassing country...

24 January 2011 16:23

Chua Gueit Eng

where want to go food at kwangjang Market..It’s comfortables!!wait for i think we go to visit Seoul trip..

1 February 2011 15:02

THE buzz of visitkorea

Hello, mett kelley.
This is the buzz administrator of visitkorea.
Your article are always good :)
actually i didn’t go the market yet.
But after reading the content, I thought
“oh~~ I have to go there. ^^”
It looks so interesting.
Thank you for useful information. :)

February 02 2011 08:27 am

Matt

Hi there! Thanks for stopping by and the next time it rains, why not go to 광장시장 and eat some bindaetteok?!^^
Best, Matt

24 February 2011 16:40

Eat Your Kimchi

I gotta say, that lines of snack carts picture is awesome. I’m a huge fan of traditional markets, and this one looks beautiful, and I’ve never even heard of it. Thanks :D

February 26 2011 13:39 pm

Matt

Just make sure you get the bindaetteok and makgeolli^^

2 March 2011 23:59

GEE

Hi just wanna know when’s the best time to visit the market. I like it when there’s a bit of a hustle and bustle so it creates a really vibrant atmosphere.

25 March 2011 06:30

Aries Jim

Dear Matt,
Thanks for posting the video! Really want to visit the Kwangjang Market. Visited Seoul 3 times with a tour, no way we will see a tradtional market. Really really want to take a look in person. Thank you so much!!

17 May 2012 13:43

SEOUL Weekly: Feb 1, Issue No. 462

[...] my favorite Buddhist temples, beautiful Songwangsa Temple in Suncheon, Jeollanam-do. Matt Kelley introduces Seoul’s Gwangjang Market, which is a great place to eat in winter. These are some wonderful photos of Deoksugung Palace at [...]

8 November 2012 16:45

Daniela

Hello. I like very much this articol. In fact, all articles on korea I like. I love korea. Congratulations for the beautiful articles and for work submitted.

22 November 2012 20:16

Eric

The market looks busy – it’s good to see that places such as this are still popular. The quality of goods there must be quite high.

21 August 2013 04:53

FusionalCook

Hi Matt, have been writing (my first) blog post on our visit to the market during our trip to Seoul and have sent people your way for more info. Great post.

August 31 2013 04:09 am

Matt

Thanks so much for your referral and comments. Looking forward to reading more on your blog, too!
Best, Matt

21 September 2013 02:07

DeRoy Jensen

Matt……good, down to earth, practical information about Korea……esp. Seoul. Thanks!

October 01 2013 06:09 am

Matt

Glad you found it useful. Thanks for taking the time to comment!
Best, Matt

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