Gyeongdong Market (경동시장) is the place for all of your ginseng and herbal needs.
Gyeongdong Market, located in Northern Seoul, is one of the largest ginseng and herbal medicine markets in Korea. ?It also sells everything from poultry and other meats to grains to produce, as well as socks, kitchenware, and candy. ?The closest subway stop is Jegi-dong (제기동) on 1 Line (exit 2), but buses also service the area.
This sprawling outdoor market has stalls upon stalls of some of the freshest produce you’ll find in Seoul. ?Gyeongdong Market offers much more variety, at lower prices, than your average grocery store. ?Where else can you find celery, avocados, figs, and spinach, all within a few hundred meters from one another? ?As you walk down the streets lined with vendors, don’t settle on the first stall you see. ?Most vendors will eagerly provide you with samples of what they have to offer, but don’t feel obligated to buy just because you’ve sampled. ?Walk around some more and explore the market. ?You just might find what you’re looking for at a better price or smaller quantity. ?(Most vendors will not sell you a smaller quantity than what they advertise- for example, 7 cutie oranges for 1,000 won means that you have to buy 7 or 14 or 21… but still, what a bargain!)
Gyeongdong Market also sells seafood and meat. ?You’ll see stalls with tanks full of swimming fish and squirming eels, as well as frozen fish and octopus displayed on ice. ?This market also sells whole chickens of differing sizes, and if you so choose, the butchers will quarter your chicken for you. ?The butchers will also help you select your cut of meat, whether it is pork, beef, or even dog! ?Peering into the meat display cases is not for the faint of heart! ?Once in a while, you’ll see dog meat, easily recognizable however artfully displayed.
In the middle of the pedestrian-only streets, you’ll find carts selling anything marinated or pickled. ?This includes assorted kimchi, salted crab (gejang), and a variety of seaweed. ?There are also vendors selling the vegetables (already prepared) that go into bibimbap. ?Lastly, follow your nose towards the delicious smell of freshly steamed, multicolored corn, sold in bags of two or three cobs.
The market can become quite crowded during the afternoons and on weekends. ?Prepare to be jostled around by ajummas pulling their carts full of produce behind them. ?Wear comfortable shoes (and in the summer, avoid wearing open toe shoes, just in case your feet are unfortunate enough to cross paths with the wheel of a cart). ?If you plan on purchasing lots of produce, bring your own rolling cart. ?Otherwise, bring a big shopping bag or book bag with two straps. ?Bring cash with you, as the majority of vendors do not accept credit cards.
Gyeongdong Market is your one stop shop. ?It sells all sorts of produce, grains, and meats- all at excellent prices. ?If at first you can’t find what you’re looking for, just keep walking through the market. ?Whatever it is that you’re looking to find, you’re likely to eventually find it. ?There’s even a man who wheels around a cart selling nothing but rubber bands! ?Be adventurous and make a trip to Gyeongdong Market.? You may like the market so much that it’ll be a weekly shopping destination!