Saturday, October 10, 2015

Hwanghak-dong Flea Market (Seoul, Korea) - Full-Contact Shopping

The Hwanghak-dong flea market, held most days in downtown Seoul, is a visceral, all-in experience. Frequented almost entirely by locals, it's one of those experiences that puts you right in the slipstream of a healthy, fully pumping cultural artery. It can get messy, but it's a whole lot of fun.
You can find all sorts of things at the market, which occupies a multi-block area just behind Dongmyo station. There are clothes, appliances, books, DVDs, toys, old military uniforms, dishes, and on and on. Whether or not you find something you need, it's a great way to spend a couple of hours.
But be prepared to be elbowed or nudged aside, especially if you're competing for a fresh load of clothes that's been dumped. The place can look like a feeding frenzy!

Here are a bunch of photos I shot on a fine fall afternoon:

 More after the jump:

In Korea, there seems to be a thriving interest in old electronics, watches, and appliances. From all the people going after old tools, parts, and fittings, you get a sense of a strong do-it-yourself mentality.

A lot of spots are like this - so packed to the rafters that you're not even allowed inside. The shop owner places some stuff outside, and that's what you're allowed to go through.

This place had a bunch of toys, but the prices I was quoted were so high that I didn't even bother trying to haggle. That's one thing about the market. Few things have price tags, and when they quote you a price, you sometimes get the sense that they're making it up on the spot.

Guy quoted me 150,000 won ($130) for this cool bootleg set. I just politely declined and left. That reminds me - few people at the market speak more than a word or two of English, so, like with this shop, the seller may wind up scribbling a price quote on the side of a cardboard box. So you might want to keep a pad of paper handy to communicate.

Junk mountain

Man there were a ton of batteries at some stalls!

Old medals

I was interested in this lovely Makaimura box, but it was not for sale. :(

You shall not pass! Check out the truck beneath the cover.

Bike mountain

All denim

Break time. Pretty tasty.

There are a bunch of super old-school eating joints nearby. Nothing for my palette, so I wound up going to a bread + coffee shop. They are serious about their sandwiches in Seoul! Some of the best I've had in Asia..

Quite a grouping

There were some cool Korean versions of various manga,..

Typical bookstore. Stacking book towers from the ground up is common.

I got the little Mickey Mouse fire engine on the right. 500 won. Eh, not a great price, but a fun little souvenir.
There are some proper antique shops in the area.

Some video games, but not a main thing at the market.

Yep, cassettes are still around.

And here's a way to play them!

I did some exploring up this steep stairwell and found a shop with old military clothing, signs, belts, etc.

Didn't want to explore too far in this building. Some System Shock II shit right there...

A gaggle of utility knives and heavy duty compasses

The king thanks ya very much for reading.

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