Tongin Market

Tongin Market, Seoul, Korea
Tongin Market

Tongin Market is a traditional market located west of Gyeongbokgung Palace and Seochon Village. The compact market features about 80 different shops along a 200 meter covered alleyway. In addition to restaurants and banchan shops, the market also features Korean street food stalls along with vendors selling a range of fresh produce such as vegetables, fruits, fish, and meat.

Established in June 1941, Tongin Market was initially created to serve as a local market catering to Japanese residents during the Japanese colonial rule (1910-1945). Following the Korean War (1950-1953), Seoul’s population surged, leading to a rise in consumption and demand for goods and food. As a result, the market expanded as Korean street vendors and shops began selling their own products and wares in what was once a Japanese market.

With around 80 stores to choose from, including restaurants, grocery stores, and shops selling clothes and shoes, Tongin Market offers an array of options for visitors. However, the main attraction for most people is the delicious Korean food found at the market. Popular food items to try at Tongin Market include fried tteokbokki, dakkochi (chicken skewers), bugak (fried vegetables), and dalgona (sweet candy).

Yeopjeon Dosirak (Brass Coin Lunchbox)

Tongin Market provides visitors with a unique experience where they can use yeopjeong (brass coins) to buy various foods in the market and assemble their own lunch box. This is known as yeopjeon dosirak (brass coin lunchbox).

Brass coins are available for purchase at the market entrance or on the second floor of Dosirak Cafe. The cafe is located in the Customer Service Center, located in the center of the market. For 5,000 won, you get 10 brass coins.

Yeopjeon Dosirak (Brass Coin Lunchbox)
Yeopjeon Dosirak (Brass Coin Lunchbox)

After your purchase, you will be given 10 brass coins and an empty plastic lunchbox with six individual sections. You can now start exploring the numerous food stalls in the market where you will be able to create your own unique lunchbox.

The lunchbox is a popular choice among visitors because it provides an affordable and tasty way to sample a variety of Korean food options.

While tteokbokki might be the most popular food found at Tongin Market, you will find an extensive variety of popular dishes. This includes grilled short rib patties, gimpab, popron chicken, naengmyeon (cold buckwheat noodles), and more.

Dosirak Cafe
Dosirak Cafe

Once you’ve assembled your lunchbox, you can return to Dosirak Cafe where tables are available on two floors for you to sit and enjoy your meal. The cafe offers utensils, complimentary water, and provides the option to add rice or soup to your lunchbox for an additional 1,000 won or 2 coins.

Main entrance to Tongin Market
Main entrance
Street vendor selling tteokbokki at Tongin Market
Street vendor selling tteokbokki

What to eat at Tongin Market

Fried Tteokbokki (Spicy Rice Cakes)

Close up of the spicy, crunchy, and tasty tteokbokki found at the market, Tongin Market, Seoul, Korea
Close up of the spicy, crunchy, and tasty tteokbokki found at the market

The most popular food to try at Tongin Market is fried tteokbokki. Tteokbokki is rice cake that is usually boiled first, but at Tongin Market the snack is fried first in spicy oil then added to a spicy sauce. This makes the snack crispy on the outside while soft on the inside. While the classic variety uses spicy oil, other varieties, including a soy sauce oil version, is also popular.

Dakkkochi (Chicken Skewers)

Dakkochi is a popular street food traditionally made with marinated chicken thighs and green onions on a skewer and grilled over charcoal until smoky. The marinade for dakkochi typically includes soy sauce, sugar, and garlic, which add a delicious sweet and savory taste. Dakkochi can come in various forms, with unique versions incorporating ingredients such as spicy chicken, sesame leaves, and mozzarella cheese. With its succulent and rich flavors, dakkochi makes for a perfect on-the-go snack or quick meal.

Various food for sale at Tongin Market in Seoul
Various food for sale
Clothing stall at Tongin Market in Seoul
Other than food, you can also buy clothing and shoes

Tongin Market Hours

Hours vary by store. Generally, stores are open 9:00-18:00. Some stores open as early as 7:00 and close as late as 19:00.
Except for clothing and food stalls, most stores are closed on Sundays.



How to get to Tongin Market

Option 1
Take Subway Line 3 to Gyeongbokgung Station (Exit 5).
After exiting, continue for 500 meters to reach the market on the left..


Additional Resources


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Last Updated on Jul 13, 2023