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Food in Korea: Gwangjang Market is street food paradise

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Locally known as Gwangjang Sijang (“Gwong-jong Shi-jong”), Gwangjang Market is located in a network of alleys just off the main street near Dongdaemun market in Seoul, South Korea. With countless food stalls open until 10 PM every day of the week, you are not likely to find yourself hungry or bored even late on a Monday night!

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When you walk down the main alley entrance and reach the middle of the market, all you can see is food stalls for as far as the eye can see. The countless customers are drinking soju and snacking on simple Korean dishes.

Gwangjang Shijang is the perfect place to sample such well-known street food at a low cost. Many items are as cheap as 4,000 Won (about 4 USD).

The ahjummas (older women) cooking and serving are friendly and curious of foreigners. They provide a great opportunity to practice your Korean if learning the language. If you are very good at pronunciation, they might even assume you’re an English teacher—that you live in Korea!

Foreigners frequent Gwangjang Sijang, but be assured plenty of locals do as well. Catching a bite to eat at this market is sure to give you the flavor of Seoul night life!

Directions

  1. Jongno 5-ga Station (Subway Line 1), Exit 8.
  2. Euljiro 4-ga Station (Subway Line 2, 5), Exit 4.

Ordering tips

To get attention, call out “jeogiyo” (“excuse me”; lit. “over there”).

At Gwangjang Market, priced menus in both English and Korean are posted on some stalls. If you know the name of the food already or can read the menu, say the name and then “juseyo.” This is a polite way to say “give me.”

If you must point at what you want, you can either say “juseyo” or be more specific and say “geugeo juseyo” (please give me that) or “igeo juseyo” (please give me this). You can also try using English words. Working in such a tourist attraction has helped many of the workers learn English.

“Kamsahamnida” means thank you.

Money tips

To ask for the price, say “Eolmaeyo?” (How much?)

The stall worker will reply quickly, so listen carefully. If you hear a “cheon” (thousand) as in “sam cheon won” (3,000 Won), then you should give them a 10,000 Won bill or less because it costs less than 10,000. If you hear “man” as in “i man pal cheon won” (28,000 Won), then if all else fails just hand them more 10,000 bills until you have reached the amount for them to give you change.

What would you like to know about food in Korea? Please leave a comment below. Want more Asia travel tips? Stay updated by hitting the subscribe button and or following Melissa at @mdwrites on Twitter.

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