If you’ve always felt that 12 hours just wasn’t enough time in the day for your shopping needs, the Dongdaemun Night Market will be a welcome find.
You’ve all heard the phrase Shop til you drop, but the Dongdaemun Night Market may be the one place where you can literally put it into action. With the market open all-night long, you can satisfy all your fashion needs with an overwhelming selection and super low prices.
Wholesale Buying and Novelty Shopping
Most people know of, and frequent, the multi-level fashion plazas such as Migliore, Hello apM, and Doota on their visits to Dongdaemun, but many have not yet discovered the wholesale district. Located across the street from Doota, behind the Dongdaemun History and Culture Park, lies an undiscovered paradise for night shoppers. Even at 3 am, the streets are bustling with nocturnal shoppers, the neon lights are brighter than ever, and the pavement is covered with big sacks full of wholesale purchases from buyers as far as Busan and even Jeju.
Although the majority of the shopping seems to be done by those buying in bulk, there are many casual night shoppers scouring the busy cluster of shops all around the district for their next fashion find. U:US, Studio W, Designer Club, and Zapa are only a few of the outlets that offer an incredible selection of clothing and accessories. However, there’s just one downside; since it is in the wholesale district, some vendors may not sell to those looking to make a single purchase. Fortunately, there are plenty who do, so it is definitely worth asking.
Shopping in Seoul, you will often come across a lot of the same items at different vendors, but at the wholesale district, you are guaranteed to find fabulous items that you have never seen before. If you are looking for a new handbag, wallet, or even luggage, check out the N.P.H (Nampyeonghwa) building. Or if your weakness is shoes, Team 204 is definitely pure shoe heaven.
Along the Cheonggyecheon stream, you’ll find the Pyeonghwa and ShinPyeonghwa Markets, where there is a massive amount of, well, everything. With the cold weather approaching, you may want to get some fantastic and fashionable warm fuzzies at the Pyeonghwa Market. It is exploding with hats, mittens, scarves and the like, right on the main floor. Also, be sure to check out the yellow tents lining the streets of Dongdaemun. Open from 9 pm to dawn, these stalls sell shoes, clothing, handbags, and accessories, many of which are designer knockoffs. Remember that bargaining is a must.
Shop Till You Eat
When you are running low on energy and looking to refuel, there are dozens of delicious restaurants with a wide variety of Korean dishes just along the back street by Migliore, in the meokja golmok (골목, food alleyway). Or if you are just looking for a quick eat, the pojang macha (street food stands) are usually swarming with tired and hungry shoppers scarfing down some kimbab (rice wrapped in seaweed) or tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes) to satisfy their hunger enough to continue on their late-night shopping adventures.
White Nights in Dongdaemun
Whether you are looking for a great new fashion find or wanting a unique experience of Seoul’s night culture (that isn’t soju, barbeque, or karaoke), Dongdaemun at night is something you should try at least once. It is bustling with so much energy that you’ll forget what time it is. The sheer spectacle of the shopping madness in the middle of the night is not often seen in many other places in the world. So grab some friends, take a nap in the early evening, and head out for some nighttime excitement at Dongdaemun Market.
Doota (doota.com) and Migliore (migliore.co.kr) are near exit 14 of Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Stn. (lines 2, 4, and 5).
To get to the wholesale district, including U:US, cross the street from Doota and the Pyeongwha Market or come out of exit 2 of Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Stn.
To reach Pyeonghwa Market (pyounghwa.com), take ex. 8 from Dongdaemun Stn. cross the Cheonggyecheon, and turn right.
Words and photos by Sylvia Kim.