Sunday, April 26, 2015

Gwangjang Market

Gwangjang Market
88 Changgyeonggung-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Directions: Take the subway Line 1 to Jongno 5-ga Station, exit 8.
Or Line 2 or 5 to Euljiro 4-ga Station, exit 4.

Why go: For the food. And for those whose hobby is shopping, go to Gwangjang Market for the silk, traditional Korean clothing (hanbok), and vintage clothing.
Why not go: Do not go to Gwangjang Market if you're on a diet and/or if your wallet is on a diet.
Why we went: Did anyone just say food?

When to go: Between 830AM to 6PM for shopping and between 11AM to 10PM for eating.
When not to go: When you are full and/or when your wallet is empty.
When we went: We arrived at 8PM hungry. Looks like a lot of people were hungry too. Almost all of the stalls and benches were occupied with students, professionals, and couples out on a date. I didn't see any tourists...or maybe I was too focused on the sound and smell of food cooking to notice.

What to try: Bindaetteok 빈대떡 or mung bean pancakes (KRW5000). These are made of ground mung beans, kimchi, pork or beef, and vegetables, and served with a dipping sauce made of soy sauce and onions. Bindaetteok is best paired with makgeolli or traditional rice liquor. Mayak gimbap 마약김밥 (KRW3000) are small seaweed wrapped rice rolls stuffed with carrots, pickled radish, and spinach. Mayak means drugs or narcotics...but no, these aren't laced with drugs. These are just really addictive. Sundae 순대 or blood sausage...if you dare. Bibimbap 비빔밥, a bowl of rice topped with vegetables, egg, and some meat, and mixed with gochujang (chili paste). Tteokbokki 떡볶이, a snack made with rice cake, fish cake, and very spicy red chili sauce. And all the different jeon or pancake–like dishes you can find in the market. 
What not to try: What? You're going and not going to try everything?
What we tried: Okay, we didn't try everything. In fact, we only tried the bindaetteok. It didn't look too big but turned out to be quite heavy on the stomach, therefore had no more space to try other stuff. I bought some mayak gimbap for takeout and later on regretted buying just one order.

Bindaetteok (right)

Mayak Gimbap (Photo from

What we were expecting: Dinner.
What we did not expect: Conversations in incomplete sentences, laughter, and shared food with strangers. My friend and I squeezed in between a man wearing a black bubble jacket and a man wearing a blue suit. The man in the black bubble jacket scooted a bit to make space for our butts, and before we had settled in, he smiled and started talking to us in broken English. We asked him what was the best food and to answer our question, he ordered bindaetteok for us. Halfway through my bindaetteok, I looked over their plates and eyed green chili peppers stuffed with meat and vegetables (gochu jeon 고추전). My friend could not resist and asked if the green chili peppers were any good. We were to find out as he enthusiastically placed some of his gochu jeon on our plate. Over bindaetteok, jeon, and makgeolli (which he offered but we declined), laughter, smiles, and conversations in bits and pieces, it felt like we were eating with our uncle.

Spot uncle

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South Korea Quickie 2014
Wisdom from the Road #22
Seoul: Lessons From My Seoul Airbnb Experience
Seoul: Gwangjang Market (you're here!)
Seoul: Namsan: Park, Tower, and Village
Gyeongju: Bulguksa Temple and Seokguram Grotto
Wisdom from the Road #29
Busan: Mr Egg Hostel (Nampo)
Busan: Scenic Sites of Busan: Taejongdae and Oryukdo
Busan: Wishes at Haedong Yonggungsa Temple
Busan: 40gyedan–gil and Beyond
Busan: Gamcheon Culture Village
Busan: An Ignoramus in Busan
Daily Dose of Kindness in South Korea
Squeezing Three Cities and One Wallet in Five Days
Busan: What's in a (Business) Name? Busan


  1. For me, markets are one of the best places to visit in a country jud. :D
    Was it Namdaemun Market ato visit before in Seoul?

    Laagholic Buyog