Thursday, May 31, 2012

This Little Mustache Went to (Namdaemun) Market

While waiting for the sun to go down for that night view at Namsan Tower, stroll around Namdaemun Market, the largest traditional market in Korea.

Namdaemun (meaning "great south gate") Market wasn't in our itinerary, but we had a free day and I thought to meet another friend, Ga Yeong. No specific plan for the day, I asked her to suggest a place, and Namdaemun market came up. A market? Great! I don't care if I have no money for shopping, a market is always a good place to explore. Let's go!

Just one corner of this huge market
Photo by Ayin Ersando

With more than 10,000 stores you can find clothes, kitchenware, toys, souvenirs, hanboks, shoes, ginseng, food, anything and everything at Namdaemun. 

 I was more attracted to the food than the other stuff.
Left photo by Ayin Ersando. Right photo by Bee Chavez.

I didn't find anything cheap (in my thrifty standards). Or maybe I just wasn't looking hard for I had no plan of buying anything.

One person goes "Hello! Where are you from?" "Philippines," we answer. And this Korean guy sings "Bayang magiliw, perlas ng silanganan..." and that made me stop in my tracks. That's how I was lured into watching them make kkultarae 꿀타래. I was too mesmerized by how a hard lump of honey was made into threadlike things, to take a video never crossed my mind. Good thing some other person did. Kkultarae, meaning honey skein, is a sweet Korean snack made from the spun honey rolled with either peanuts or almonds inside. It was quite expensive, 5000 won for a box which contains just 10 pcs, but I just had to buy one. Yeah, food is my weakness.

Making kkultarae

And speaking of food, we had lunch at Galchijorim Alley in Namdaemun Market.

Galchijorim Alley where every restaurant sells galchijorim.

Galchijorim 갈치조림 is boiled hairtail fish cooked with radish in soy sauce, red chili peppers, and garlic. The spicy broth is best eaten with rice and gim 김 (seaweed). We also had fried godeungeo 고등어, a kind of mackerel. Of course, not to forget, the banchan (side dishes): pajeon (green onion pancake), geotjeori (cabbage kimchi), sigeumchi namul (spinach), oi-sobagi (cucumber kimchi with chili, garlic, fish sauce), eggs, and some kinda fish-jeon (fried fish coated in flour and egg).

 A feast!

The place we ate in was a two storey made into three. Take off your shoes, crouch to your table, squat on the floor, and enjoy your galchijorim!

At the second floor (more like the first-and-a-half floor)

Burp! Don't forget to pay: 6000 won for one godeungoe, 6000 won for galchijorim, 1000 won for a serving of rice. Gim and the side dishes are free.

Namdaemun Market
Find your way: Take the subway to Hoehyeon Station (line 4/light blue) and take exit 5. There are also many buses that stop by Namdaemun Market, see guide below.
Hours: Any time, any day.

Galchijorim Alley
Find your way: Get yourself to Namdaemun Market and bring this map with you.

While you're in the area, why don't you drop by:
Myeongdong (shopping)

South Korea Series:
To the North We Go...Almost
Strolling, Collecting Sights 
A Dose of History: Gyeongbokgung
Double Dose of History: Changdeokgung & Huwon
Photo Stop: Bukchon Hanok Village
Care For Some Coffee?
Step Back in Time at the Folk Village
Trick Eye Museum
N Seoul Tower
What's in a (Business) Name? Korea
This Little Mustache Went to (Namdaemun) Market (you're here!)
At the Outskirts: Petite France and Namisum
Hunting for Cherry Blossoms at Yeouido Park
Can't Pronounce It So I Stuffed It in My Mouth
The Most Important Question 


  1. I never realized you had tons of Korean friends!

    1. Tons meaning four :-) It was actually the best part of the trip, spending time with them after two long years.