Seoulites certainly aren’t averse to a bit of retail therapy, and shopping opportunities in Seoul  have grown by leaps and bounds in recent years with disposable incomes rising and Korea opening further to imports. Local brands, too, have blossomed, especially in areas like electronics, fashion, and cosmetics.
In the old city center, markets with centuries of history still stand and remain hives of activity, but they’ve been supplemented by the towering department stores of Myeong-dong and Gangnam and the Apgujeong district’s opulent luxury boutiques.
Shoppers are sure to appreciate the strong traditions of craftsmanship that continues to permeate places like Insa-dong  and Samcheong-dong and the flea markets of the Hongik University (Hongdae) district, which burst with inspired artistic, jewelry, accessory, and fashion creations.
Broadly speaking, customer service in Korea is a fine art. The practice of haggling persists in some places, markets and tourist-oriented shops in particular, but it’s not as cutthroat as it can be elsewhere in Asia. Hidden charges and extra taxes are rare, and most shops are quite happy to arrange exchanges or returns, leaving browsers free to buy with relative impunity.
There are a few characteristics of the Seoul shopping scene to be aware of. First, at least relative to other regional metropolises like Bangkok, Singapore, and Hong Kong, Seoul isn’t really a bargain-hunter’s paradise—a lot of imported goods remain expensive due to high tariffs, and even local products aren’t particularly cheap, though quality is high.
Retail outlets selling similar things also have the odd habit of congregating in a single area and adopting nearly identical pricing; thus sometimes if you’re after something in particular there’s really only one place to go—Yongsan Electronics Market for electronics or Dongdaemun Market  for low-cost clothing, for example.
Limited space means instead of malls and big-box retailers most of the shopping in Seoul is done in narrow lanes and claustrophobic department stores, which heave with crowds every evening and weekend—not exactly conducive to leisurely browsing. Still, it’s easy enough to negotiate these quirks, and the city has plenty of good deals and intriguing buying opportunities for the taking.