Friday, December 30, 2011

Dongdaemun Market

One of my favorite sections of Seoul was Dongdaemun or "Great East Gate", part of the wall that used to surround the city. Today, it is the site of a huge shopping district known for its cloth and clothing market.  Any visit to Seoul would be incomplete without making a stop in this fascinating district regardless of whether you are a shopaholic or not.

Inside one of the mega-complexes containing stalls selling all sorts of cloths, ribbons, linens, towels, silks and fabrics, etc., including material to make hanboks (traditional korean dresses).

A shot of another one of these huge cloth market complexes selling more clothes than you could ever imagine.

Walking around clothing markets are tiring so I stopped for a quick bite of some haemul sundubu, a seafood stew eaten with rice and side dishes....Mmmmmm...

The main shopping centers in the Dongdaemun area selling clothes are Migliore (on the left) and Doota (on the right).  If you are a clothes-shopping aficionado, this is clothing heaven. Both stores are generally arranged so women's wear, men's wear, children's wear etc are on different levels. Doota has a more upscale feel and stalls here are generally better lit, better maintained and resemble your average Western store somewhat more. However, don't be necessarily fooled into buying here as prices generally are higher here and bargaining is tougher. Migliore contains a huge number of stalls as well but they generally have less decor opting for a what-you-see-is-what-you-get feel; jeans and clothing may simply be draped over a wooden table. Bargaining is a must here and is certainly expected as pricetags are all marked up. Be a little wary as shop owners can sometimes be a bit overly enthusiastic in trying to entice you into a conversation to look at their wares.

This was definitely one of the most interesting shopping experiences I've had in a while as some merchants really do try to hard-sell you their products. For those not from Korea, any purchase over a certain amount is also tax-free and there is an office in the buildings for you to get relevant tax forms/refunds.

After heading out and wandering towards the metro, I found myself crossing the same Cheonggyecheon stream I had crossed a few days back except the stream was now going through the Dongdaemun district.

Here's a shot of some street stalls in the Dongdaemun market area mainly selling shoes as I headed to the entrance of the metro.

The nearest metro station (Dongdaemun station) is quite easy to get to as it is located within short walking distance of the main Dongdaemun shopping centers so definitely add this to your itinerary if you're making a trip to Seoul!

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