6-1 Yeji-dong, Jongno-gu
HOURS: Mon.-Sat. 7 a.m.-7 p.m.; food vendors generally daily 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
SUBWAY: Jongno 5-ga (Line 1), Ulchiro 4-ga (Lines 2, 5)
Gwangjang claims to be Seoul’s oldest covered market, with over a century of history. Few signs of its storied past are in evidence now, with its paved and canopied walkways, but it remains an important center for Seoul’s textile trade, with many vendors supplying bolts of cloth and clothing to the designers and shops of nearby Dongdaemun Market.
This is a good place to come to bargain on silk as well as handmade suits and dresses, but bring a Korean speaker with you—very little English is spoken.
Throughout the day, but especially after dusk, Gwangjang is equally renowned as a repository of some of the city’s best, and cheapest, street food, with literally hundreds of indoor and outdoor stalls offering up delicacies like sundae (blood sausage) and bindaetteok (a filling pancake of ground mung beans, beef, and vegetables). These nibbles and the copious amounts of local rice wine on offer see it packed nightly with revelers on a budget.
© Jonathan Hopfner from Moon Seoul, 1st Edition