Markets in Seoul
If you can't buy it in Seoul, you likely don't need it. If you can't find it cheaper in one of Seoul's markets than at home, you're likely in need of some lessons in bargaining over prices (and we have those lessons, plus some other information, for you here on our site!).
There are three major markets in metro Seoul, each with its own flavor and emphasis. All are worth visiting, and the kids should have a ball (do, however, see a few safety tips below). We'll cover each market separately.
- Namdemum Market (Subway to Seoul Station, multiple lines) is probably the largest market, at least in terms of what they have to offer. You can buy raw food (including live eels, pig's heads and all sort of creepy crawly things that the kids will enjoy looking at), clothing, kitchen stuff like dishs and cooking gear, and leather goods like bags and coats. It seems to be open always, and many people claim the best bargains are to be found after midnight but before sun up.
- Dongdaemum Market (Red Line subway, TONGDAEMUN STATION) is all clothes, clothes, clothes and some toys, tools and notions and a few more clothes. Somewhere in the middle of the night the whole place shifts from retails sales to wholesale to stock up the rest of Seoul's clothing stores. They also have kids' clothing, but watch the size (don't rely solely on the tags).
- Yongsan Electronics Market (Blue Line subway to SHIN YONGSAN station) sells computers, music and video CD's, GameBoy, Sega, Nintendo and Dreamcast game cartridges and most everything else electronic. Prices on stuff made in Korea are cheap, while prices on imported things are usually quite high. Watch the game cartridges; some seem to be pirated copies.
We've found that while the vendors don't seem to go out of their way to misrepresent their products, many are not very knowledgable about what they sell, so be sure that you know what you need and what will work at home before you buy. Korea has two electrical systems, 110V and 220V, so some products for sale won't work at home, wherever your home is (but see elsewhere on our site where we talk about using and buying electrical things abroad).
Most computer software sold will run just fine on U.S. computers. Most games will display English wording within the game, though all the printed documentation will be in Korea. A few games, both in the PC area and the cartridge gaming systems, are now “localized”, meaning the text inside the game itself will not properly display unless you have a Korean-language operating system.