Tongin Market and Dae-o Bookstore in Seoul

I absolutely love going to Korean traditional markets. And nothing is more traditional than a market that has its first origins from 1941. This was during the Japanese occupation of Korea and set up for Japanese residents – hence the architectural structure of it – open public market but with a roof over the stores, creating a semi-indoor street.

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To this day, the market is still running with many different stores and groceries. But perhaps it’s most well-known for the food street vendors – lots of little delectables to be enjoyed.

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One of the oldest and well-known vendors is run by this grandmother who makes a special kind of rice cakes. Her tteokbokki was absolutely delicious and she was the sweetest thing ever.

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She noticed that I was a foreigner and decided to treat me to some of her spicy rice cakes to test out the spiciness level. They were absolutely delicious.

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Tongin Market is located just west of Gyeongbokgung Palace – a more traditional neighbourhood – much like Bukchon. But it’s not as popular with foreigners because transportation here is not as easy or accessible. But it’s definitely worth visiting.

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While in the neighbourhood, you can also visit Dae-o Bo, a traditional and retro little bookstore that actually runs as a cafe now. It’s become more popular with locals and IU fans after IU – a Korean pop singer – took photos here for her album art. In order to go in, you need to pay a small admission fee and you can get a postcard or a drink with it.

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