Sunday, March 29, 2009

Seoul Folk Flea Market

Let's go down memory lane. Do you remember those days when your Mom or Dad took you to a flea market?

The booths lined up next to each other selling different items, some of which worth something others just filled with plastic toys from China.

I have such fond memories of when I grew up in Florida. There was a flea market type mall that I was taken to often. I remember the moldy and dank smells that filled the low-lit space of the flea market. I was charmed by the pewter figurines and crystal necklaces.

In general I have always been fascinated by the atmosphere of flea markets. They are spaces where junk and treasures come together. Inside a flea market you have to put your skeptical spectacles on because you never know if you are getting the right bargain.

And so I was excited to learn that there is a Flea Market in Seoul. Actually walking down a street in Seoul where there are cart sellers is close enough to a Flea Market anyways, but this flea market has something more special, foreign sellers.

The event, which provides a chance for local and overseas people to mingle together in a friendly and cooperative atmosphere, is scheduled for Saturday, March 28 from 12 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Sinseol-dong, Seoul.
It's called the Seoul Folk Flea Market and I was very pleased to have visited there. So how about you come with me as I show this unique space in Seoul and it's hidden treasures.

Getting There:
The way I got there was by taking the subway. By taking Line #2 the Green line I got off at Sinseol-dong station. After looking at the map to locate the flea market I made my way to Exit 9.

Coming out of Exit 9 onto street level you could see on the ground taped a handy sign pointing in the direction of the flea market.
But if you keep your nose pointed towards the sky then you can just follow the international flags strung about.

And you are there! This is the entrance to the indoors part of the flea market. Inside are stalls with Ahjumma's and Ahjusshi's selling their goods such as shoes, table wares, trot music and the list could go on.

But to get to the "Foreign" section you have to walk through the indoor part and come out the other side.

Flea Market for Foreigners Section: Running into a familiar face
I was tipped off about this event by reading it off of Lunalil's blog, where she mentioned that she will be there selling off her excess stuff (She is going back to America soon). So I thought it might be great if I found her, if not well at least I tried.

But it wasn't too hard to see her, she had the first booth in the line up of sellers.

Actually she spotted me and said "I know you! You're Foreigner!" Haha notoriety! And I said to her that she must be Funk Seoul Sister, and we hit it off from there.

I had a great time running into her and bought a few things from her Umbrella Stand. I got there about 1.5 hours after it started and she had sold most of the good stuff.

She invited me to sit down at her stand and we had a good time chatting about the place and the experience.

It was fun to watch people come up to her booth and check out her stuff. She is better versed in Korean and would greet the onlookers in Korean, surprising them at times.

There were kids there too, and we tried to frazzle their English skills while they checked out the stuff.

After resting for a while I got back up and checked out the other foreigner booths nearby. It seemed there were some Europeans selling off sweaters and short skirts, but I think most of their good stuff was sold already.

The amazing thing was that there was a reasonable crowd of people looking for a bargain.

At the end of the booths there were some food stands. Here I believe nationals from Turkey were serving couscous and chicken, I tried some and it was rather good.
I went back to my friend Lunalil's booth and rested some more and took in the vibe of the place.

Flea Market Characters:
What flea market wouldn't be complete without a few sketchy and strange characters? As time passed there was one man who came by often. He was an Ahjusshi (older man in his 50's) and he liked to inspect the stuff on her table. After inspection he would point out that most of her stuff was made in China and that this was no good. It was funny watching him give a close inspection, carefully looking for the "Made in China" label.

Another character was this one guy who walked around with a megaphone shouting something over and over. He was dressed with a vest that had the venues name on it, and uncannily was wearing those goofy plastic glasses with the little mustache underneath it.

He certainly was a spectacle.

I think these guys made the experience authentic and memorable.

Antiques for Sale:
I got up again, this time curious what was for sell nearby. There was an antique booth near the entrance to the flea market hall that had many items. I found a really nice old Korean style mirror and asked how much it was, only to find out it was 50,000 Won! Hmm not in my budget.

So I had to take home some free pictures...

There is something phallic in this picture:

After looking at the antiques I went inside and had a look around. It seemed there was mostly stuff I wasn't really interested in, like old man shoes or glasses. There was an upstairs section and if you followed the ramp you could find some eateries. Also the upstairs area had childrens toys.


But the real treat was found when I went to use the bathroom and on the way saw something sparkling on one of the booths.

It was a box full of crystal balls. On the way back from the bathroom I stopped at the booth and asked how much in Korean. From what I gathered it sounded like one was only 1,500 Won, which I found to be amazingly cheap. So I plucked out two and started to hand the woman 3,000 Won. But then her and her friend mumbled something and soon one of the women was pulling out more crystal balls into my pile. Then she said "Okay?" and I nodded and she took my money. She then wrapped them up in newspaper and put them in a bag. I can't believe I got 7 of these for just 3,000 Won (one of which went to Lunalil). In America these guys can fetch for around $15 each! haha~

I am going to hang a few from my window at home, and maybe some at the office.
A Stop in Hongdae:

After the market was over we were hungry and decided to head over to
Hongdae, considering that I thought I had never been there. Although I am still unsure whether I have or not.

Anyways, we didn't do much walking around due to that it was kind of windy and we were tired. But we did catch a bite to eat at Dos Tacos. On the way I spotted what looks like an Apple Store getting ready to open some time soon.

Dinner was amazing!!!!
It was so great to run into Lunalil and spend my Saturday hanging out with her. Otherwise I was going to be at home thinking too much about life and stuff. hehe

I am considering gathering some things and putting up my own booth there next month or sometime in the summer. Looks like it would be a lot of fun. By the way if you don't speak Korean there are volunteers there who will help you translate. ;)

**BTW I have to attend GEPIK Orientation next week for 4 days, so blogging will probably be slim. But I hope to report back on this event.**


  1. Hello Joy;I am Elif from Istanbul.I've been reading your blog for a while.By the way that guys are not from Turkey,they are from Tunisia.Your blog is very nice.Bye

  2. Thanx for the adventure & fotos!
    I'll take some of those crystals please...go back another time & get more!!
    They look like maybe from an old chandelier?
    I haven't found my crystals yet in my unpacked boxes here (4+years & still haven't totally unpacked!)NO where to put all the stuff anyway!

    Funny, I don't remember the indoor flea market being like you describe!
    But the experience of a child is often different than that of an adult, huh?!

    Sounds like a great day!

  3. Hi Joy! It was great seeing you at the Flea Market, and I'm glad we got to finally meet, chat and even grab dinner together!

    The whole thing was such a cool experience, and it was nice to share it with someone. I hope you do end up selling your stuff there sometime.

    I'm glad you got your write-up on it already posted. I'm working on mine. I wish I'd uploaded my pictures, I could have done that today (since I have no classes to teach) instead of just sitting around.

    You've still got dibs on my toaster oven, and my measuring cups. If you need any other kitchen type thingys let me know. :)



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