Gwangjang Market, one of the oldest traditional markets in Seoul, is popular with foreign visitors looking to sample some of the best Korean street foods. If you are looking for an authentic Korean cultural experience, along with some of the best bindaetteok in the city, then look no further.
The market, first established in 1905, is today the oldest remaining daily market in Korea.
Gwangjang might not be as well known as nearby Dongdaemun Market and Namdaemun Market, but that doesn’t stop the tens of thousands of visitors who flock here each day to experience a traditional market that shows a side of the city that can’t be found or replicated at some of other more modern, newer, and larger shopping centers and fashion malls found elsewhere in the city.
Covering just 10 acres, Gwangjang Market is a lot bigger than it may seem. In such a compact area, you will find over 5,000 shops and stalls employing around 20,000 people.
Though most visit the market for the street food, many shoppers venture away from the street food to one of the other levels of the market. It is here where you will find a vast selection of vendors selling textiles, silk, linens, bed sheets, hanbok (traditional Korean dress), second-hand clothes, and more.
Many of the vendors stationed here own their own factories which supply fabrics and other goods to nearby markets and department stores including Namdaemun, Dongdaemun, and Pyounghwa Clothing Market.
Experiencing Korean street food is a must for any visitor to Seoul. Persuasive food stall owners found along the crisscrossing corridors of the covered Gwangjang Market will try their best to get you to sit down on one of the benches at their stall. This can be a little overwhelming for first time visitors. My best advice? Pick the stall with the food that looks the most appetizing and the stalls that look busy with locals. The locals know what is good and what isn’t.
One of the most famous street foods sold here is bindaetteok or mung bean pancake. This Korean style pancake, fried in oil until it is golden brown, is made using ground mung beans, kimchi, and vegetables such as green onions and peppers. The sight and smell of vendors preparing and cooking bindaetteok is a great experience. Bindaetteok is also great on a cool evening.
Other foods commonly found at affordable prices are tteokbokki (a spicy Korean soft rice cake snack), bibimbap, kimpbap, yukhoe (raw steak tartare), fresh sashimi on a bed of clear noodles accompanied with soy sauce and wasabi, and sundae (blood sausage made out of pig’s intestines).
If you’re not hungry, head to the second floor. Here you will find all sorts of textiles, quilts, bed sheets, and traditional Korean outfits known as hanbok. The collection of fabrics sold here are some of the largest and most famous in Seoul. All sorts of colorful fabrics including silk, satin, and linens can be found here.