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Namdaemun Market

Description
Namdaemun Market, located in the very center of Seoul, is the biggest traditional market in Korea selling children's clothing, men & women's clothing, daily miscellaneous goods, kitchenware and local and imported products. Most shops have their own factories and make the products themselves offering both wholesale and retail prices which enables visitors to purchase various shopping items at an extremely inexpensive price. Foreign visitors to Namdaemun Market show different features: the Japanese are more into foods like Gim (seaweed), Gimchi, and ginseng, while the Chinese show interest in clothing and miscellaneous goods. On the other hand, most tourists from the west simply enjoy the ambience of the traditional market. Hours vary by store, so it's advisable to plan out in advance according with a shopping list before you start the actual shopping.

Transportation and Map
Seoul Subway Line 4, Hoehyeon Station Exit 5



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Noted Shops
Namdaemun Market is bustling with tourists, porters and vendors mingled on the streets, not to mention the densely packed shops. Visitors often take a look at only part of the market on the main street, and fail to see the real Namdaemun Market in whole. To enjoy the market to the full, it is crucial to divide the market by section on a map, then go find the shops for the items that you are interested in. Namdaemun Market is composed of several main buildings and open-air stores. Even if you have nothing to buy, it is much fun to go around open-air stores which have the genuine feel of a traditional Korean market. Most open-air stores open from 10 am to 5 pm.

  • Sungryemun Import Goods Sangga ('Shopping Center')
    Sungryemun Sangga is found right next to the Main Gate 1 on your right. Imported clothing, food, miscellaneous goods, electronics, accessories and small interior items are sold in the underground shopping center.
    Open Hours: 07:00-19:00

  • Bon-dong Sangga
    It is a shopping center with history and tradition housing shops mostly for stationery, glasses, interior items and women's clothing.
    Opening hours vary by store.

  • C-dong Central Sangga
    For over 30 years, the shops on the basement have sold imported goods like clothing, food, miscellaneous goods, cosmetics, electronics, accessories, bags, furs and golf outfits. (Open Hours: 07:00-19:00) The shops on the 1st floor sell men & women's clothing, underwear, linen, shoes, cosmetics, carpets, leather goods and Hanbok (traditional Korean costume) in bulk. The 2nd floor is about curtains, bedding, Hanbok, handicraft articles, lacquer ware, and folk art crafts. (Open Hours: 06:00-19:00) Wholesale shops for dishes are placed on the 3rd floor offering extremely reasonable prices. (Open Hours: 08:30-19:00)
    * Hot Tip : If you are looking for good gift items, the 2nd floor of C-Dong is the place for you. It offers Korean traditional items like Hanbok, handicrafts and lacquer ware at good prices.

  • D-Dong Daedo Jonghap Sangga
    The shops on the basement deal with the miscellaneous goods from abroad and on the 1st floor are shops for bags and wallets, belts, accessories, underwear and bedding. (Open Hours: 06:00-18:00) The 2nd floor has been dedicated to interior items, folk art articles, accessories, and dolls for over 30 years. This floor is famous nationwide for retailers and foreign buyers jammed overnight. (Open Hours: 00:00-17:00) Dish shops are located on the 3rd floor and even personal orders with favorite designs are accepted here. (Open Hours: 08:30-18:30)
    * Hot Tip : Good souvenir items abound on the 2nd floor of D-Dong. Cute interior items and traditional handicrafts are abundant with various price options.

  • E-Dong Daedo Jonghap Sangga
    The basement has shops for imported goods with relatively pleasant surroundings offering quality goods such as furniture, clothing, liquor, baby goods, dishes, electronics and food. (Open Hours: 05:00-17:00) The 1st floor is about pants, shirts, coats, wallets and belts sold both through wholesale and retail. (Open Hours: 24:00-17:00) Accessory shops are clustered on the 2nd floor selling decoration items, hair accessories and jewelry. (Open Hours: 06:00-17:00) On the 3rd floor are flower shops providing real flowers, artificial flowers, and ribbons for bouquets. (Open Hours: 04:00-17:00) Between D-Dong and E-Dong are about ten of open-air stores for army goods like military uniforms, boots, blankets, sacks, compasses and telescopes. Second-hand goods are sold as well as new ones.
    * Hot Tip : The underground of C-Dong, D-Dong, and E-dong is called Doggaebi (goblin) Import Goods Sangga selling furniture, clothing, liquor, baby goods, dishes, electronics, food and so on. The entrances are found at D-Dong and E-Dong.

  • Daedo Market
    It is a shopping center for children's clothing and men & women's clothing. (Open Hours: 11:00-17:00) Outside of the building are many shops for shoes, bags and other miscellaneous goods.

  • Daedo Arcade
    Shops for children's clothing are densely located here offering every kind of children goods like infant's clothing, formal suits for children, jeans, socks and shoes at inexpensive prices. Retailers from all over the nation gather here right after the opening and the peak time is from 3 am to 6 am.
    Open Hours: 11:30-17:00

  • Jayu (Freedom) Sangga
    Most shops specialized in bags. In the basement are shops for imported accessories, kitchenware, cameras and miscellaneous goods. (Open Hours: 06:00-19:00) The shops on the 1st floor sell various kinds of bags (Open Hours: 06:00-17:00), and on the 2nd floor are shops for children's clothing.

  • Samick Shopping Town
    B1F: children's clothing / 1,2F: women's clothing / 3F: accessories / 5F: men's clothing / 6F: shoes / 7,8F: general clothing / 9F: food court
    Open Hours: B1F ~ 6F 11:00-16:30 / 7,8F 08:00-18:30

  • Food Street
    Food shops are clustered at the crossroad between Bon-Dong and C-Dong selling Gim (seaweed), ginseng, dried cuttlefish, dried cod, dried anchovy, dried octopus, and peanuts. both through wholesale and retail. Many non-Koreans use this street as their favorite grocery shopping place, and most shopkeepers can speak Japanese.
    Open hours vary by stores.

  • Mesa
    Huge shopping mall.
    B1F: Import world class goods, miscellaneous goods / 12F: Women's formal suits / 3F: Children's clothing / 4F: Men's formal suits / 5F: shoes, bags / 6F: accessories / 9F: restaurants / 10F: Mesa Popcon Hall (performance hall)
    Tel: +82-2-2128-5000(Kor)
    Open Hours: 11:00- the next day 07:00
    Closed Day: Sunday 22:00- Monday 22:00

  • CoCo Club
    Huge shopping mall specialized in accessories. Located very near Hoehyeon Subway Station (50m), CoCo Club sells jewelry as well as hair accessories through wholesale and retail. Retailers usually come in the early morning, and the general customers in the morning and the afternoon.
    Tel: +82-2-755-6570(Kor)
    Open Hours: 23:00-the next day 16:00
    Closed Day: Sundays

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Food
No fast food restaurants or fancy restaurants are found in Namdaemun Market, but many kinds of the savory local foods served at the shabby restaurants and foods of street vendors give the feel of a genuine Korean traditional market. These shabby restaurants were originally for the shopkeepers, but now more tourists are seen here than the shopkeepers, who have come to try the famous taste themselves. Two noted food streets in Namdaemun, Galchi Street and Meokja Street, are hard to find, but worth visiting. Between Bon-Dong, C-Dong and D-Dong are open-air food vendors serving Bungeobbang (fish-shaped bread), Tteokbokgi, deep-fried snacks and so on.

  • Galchi Street
    Walk down the market through the main street from Namdaemun Gate (about 50m), you will find Galchi street on your right housing about 10 restaurants densely packed together serving Galchi (hairtails) stew. The basic serving unit is for 2 persons. It might be fun to try the Korean way of eating Galchi stew by taking a bowl of rice and soup mixed together. Wangseong restaurant and Naegohyang restaurant have been popular on this street since 1988. Hirak restaurant is also famous for its crushed pots, located between Bon-dong and C-dong.
    Open Hours: 03:00-20:00
    Closed Day: Sundays

  • Meokja street
    A variety of Korean snacks like Mandu (dumpling), Japchae (stir-fried noodles and vegetables), Tteokbokgi, red-bean porridge, Gopchang (steamed intestines), sundae, fried rice, and bibimbap are found on this street at inexpensive price.
    Open 24 hours
    Closed Day: none

  • Jokbal street
    Near C-Dong crossroad are Jokbal (pork hock) restaurants. Jokbal looks ugly, but tastes fantastic. Takeout is possible.
    Open Hours: 09:30-22:00
    Closed Day: none

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Namdaemun Tourist Information Center
The Namdaemun Tourist Information Center provides a plenty of materials like brochures and maps on Namdaemun, not to mention the well-trained staff fluent in English, Japanese and Chinese. TICs in Namdaemun should prove to be helpful when you get lost in mazy Namdaemun Market, or when trying to find a shop for a specific item.

Tel : Namdaemun TIC 1: +82-2-752-5728(Kor/Eng/Jap/Chn)
Namdaemun TIC 2: +82-2-752-1913(Kor/Eng/Jap/Chn)
Open Hours: Nov.~ Feb. 09:00-17:00 / Mar.~ Oct. 09:00-18:00
Closed Day: none

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Shopping tips

  • Namdaemun Market Festival is held around May or June for 15 days. Various events, parades, product contests, and free giveaways are held.

  • If you have a specific item in your mind to purchase, go to different stores to compare prices.

  • Refunds are not accepted at small shops (exchanging items are possible). Check the quality carefully before you pay.

  • Some shops don't accept credit cards, so it's advisable to carry some cash with you.

  • 10% discount might be possible by bargaining, but some shops go by a fixed price..

  • No parking lot is available except for toll parking lots. Use Yeonse Parking Lot and the underground parking of the Good & Good Building.

  • Namdaemun Market is closed on Sundays (from Saturday 17:00 to Sunday 22:00), Lunar New Year's Day. Thanksgiving Day and the summer vacation period. Shops on the streets are open year round, and hours vary by stores.

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Namdaemun Insights
Interview of three Japanese girls - Yoshii Hitomi (18), Kanetaka Syuri (19), Arashima Norie (19)

"We are marveled at so many wonderful items."
These three Japanese girls visited Korea for the first time for a get-together.
Q : What brought you to Namdaemun Market?
A : We are here mainly for shopping. Because there are too many stores to see, we only shopped around the stores on the main street. We are interested in clothing and accessories.

Q : Don't you think that the market is way too crowded?
A : It IS crowded. We feel that Namdaemun Market is jam-packed with people and products, though we found it fun experience. Besides, the market has various unique items that you can't find in Japan. We are having so much fun just by walking around and taking a look at these products.

Q : Have you tried any Korean food here?
A : We tried 'Jokbal' (pork hock) from a street vendor. Very tasty.

Q : Any other comments on Namdaemun Market?
A : It's helpful that many shopkeepers can speak Japanese, but we didn't like the touting many sign boards which look disorganized.

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Information provided by Korea National Tourism Organization.

 

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