Bargain Hunting at Seocho Flea Market, Seoul, South Korea

When it comes to travel, my Japanese students always talk about two things: food and shopping. And it's true that Japan, and all of Asia as well, has wonderful food and a wide variety of shopping options. When you look at the prices for name brand goods, you then understand why traveling to another country becomes an option - a weekend of ethnic foods and discounts on high-price cosmetics and clothes makes that plane ticket worthwhile.

But I'm a cheapskate. I love to spend money but I'm all about the value; thrift shops and bargain bins are my friend. That's something I really miss about America; Japan doesn't have much of a used goods market. But Korea does, in spades.

With many of my plans rearranged or canceled due to weather, I spent a good bit of time on both of my trips to Korea exploring shops and markets. On Saturday, I started my day at the Seocho Flea Market, a few steps away from my hostel.
 Bangbaecheon-ro is split down the middle with a parking lot from Sadang Station to Isu Station, and it becomes one of the largest flea markets in Korea. The majority of goods are clothes, and most of those will be women's clothes. But you can find bags and accessories, hats, children's clothes, toys, and more.
It's a real flea market, with people selling all of their random goods. You can tell the household spots from the regulars, because the regulars tend to focus on one type of good. Either way, you can find some great deals. Do you need some new tools? You better have checked luggage, because you can't carry that hammer back on the plane.
 Perhaps you'd like a musical instrument. Or electronic goods. Or CDs, VHS tapes, DVDs, and more. Come prepared to test anything you buy, because like any other flea market it's buyer beware and dealers generally won't have an outlet to test that appliance.
Some dealers specialize in vintage, antique, or foreign goods, and the individual household sellers might have some of these items as well. I found a traditional Korean drum and a new Korean baseball hat to take home - for about a dollar each. This isn't a tourist market, and you shouldn't plan on getting souvenirs here, but if you want some real Korean goods at a discount this is the place to go! It wasn't the best flea market in Korea as far as finding things I personally wanted, but it might be my favorite - lots of household sellers and a friendly atmosphere.

Seocho Flea Market happens every Saturday, starting about 9:00. Sellers start heading home about 2:00, so arrive early. This market is known for the old people who can be quite pushy, so come prepared to stand your ground and act fast - stuff sells fast as the place is crowded.

The easiest way to get there is to take the subway to Sadang Station. Don't use Exit 1, like some websites say. Instead, go to exit 11 [best] or 13, and turn right down the small side street. In a block, you'll arrive at the split street and you should certainly see all the people buying and selling. Just follow that one street all the way to the end of the market, heading north. You can turn left down one of the cross streets to get back to the main road, and turn right (north) to get to Isu/Chongshin University Station.

4 comments:

  1. Going to a flea market in a foreign country is definitely on my bucket list.

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    1. It's hit or miss when it comes to souvenirs, but it's a great cultural experience and I've always enjoyed window shopping at these things. I want to go to more flea markets in Japan but when I can think about it the weather's bad or there aren't any great ones. I should check out the smaller ones though.

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  2. hello , can you kindly tell me where the Bazar moved from Isu to ?

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  3. Hello! Thanks for reading. I'm sorry, but I'm not sure. You might want to ask at a visitor's center, because they usually know about events and markets.

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