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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.