We recently visited an area of Seoul called Dongdaemun. It has many shops and is also known for its restaurants and street vendors. It seemed to be one of the more impoverished areas of Seoul, lacking the multimillion-dollar corporations and chain stores. Throughout our time there, we encountered many family owned restaurants, handmade crafts, ethnic street food, and unique shops.
I actually prefer spending time and money in areas such as Dongdaemun. It’s all about supporting the local economy! Don’t get me wrong; I still enjoy visiting parts of Seoul with tall skyscrapers and bright lights. I can get that in the U.S., though. It’s the simplicity of eating at a hole in the wall restaurant or interacting with the locals that excites me.
Here are some of my thoughts while being in Dongdaemun:
- Korea is basically a large Sam’s Club
What do you think about when someone mentions Sam’s Club? FREE SAMPLES! It’s never fun when your mom drags you to the grocery store, unless it’s Sam’s Club of course. I’m that person that takes samples from the workers and then pretends to be genuinely interested in purchasing it. After “deciding not to buy it,” I move on to the next food stand to replay my skit all over again.
The food culture in Seoul is very big and sampling is a pretty common act! We went into this neat bakery at Dongdaemun that had really interesting baked goods and loaves of bread on display. As you can see in the picture, there are small bags with bread samples in front of each loaf (yes, you have to reach your hand in the same bag as 50 other strangers). So unless you’re a germ freak, it was a great way to sample a variety of fresh breads!
2. Fruit is expensive
During our venture in Dongdaemun, we noticed many fruit stands. I then realized I haven’t eaten a piece of fruit in almost 2 weeks. I love fruit! (I used to have a fruit fly problem in my freshman dorm because I hoarded it) Anyways, I couldn’t believe the prices at these fruit stands. For example, a watermelon was roughly $13-15 dollars. What is it in the U.S.? 4 or 5 dollars? I believe a lot of the fruit in Korea has to be imported, though.
- Pet stores in America are nice
There’s not much explaining to do since the pictures say it all. Sorry for those of you who are PETA activists.
So the Humane Society website says that a 13 square foot cage is needed per 4 guinea pigs. That’s almost close.
- Parks are prettier at night
We just happened to stumble across an important Korean landmark while in Dongdaemun. I swear we do this all the time. The first two pictures are of Heunginjinmun Gate. It was the East Gate of Seoul and the original structure was built in 1398 (later rebuilt in 1869). It is now designated as National Treasure of Korea No 1 and was built to protect the Joeseon Dynasty.
What is interesting about this gate is that it also has an outer wall called Ongseong. Because the East Gate was built in a vulnerable spot (low, flat region), this outer wall was constructed to prevent the main gate from being detected from outsiders.
I took some pictures of the wall both during the day and at night. Boy, it felt so much more majestic in the dark. It was a calming feeling to stroll through the park with the stone wall glowing around us. It would be a beautiful proposal spot 🙂
That’s all I have. See you next time!