Postcard: Shopping adventure in Seoul

After a whirlwind of a day running around Seoul in the rain, my mom and I were ready for something a little less chaotic. So what better activity to do than go shopping?

The day after the typhoon hit South Korea, we awoke to some light drizzle and gray skies. But slowly through the morning, the sun started to peek through the clouds. Before we knew it, the weather cleared up and it was as if the typhoon was just a dream.

The first shopping area we checked out is called Namdaemun Market, a traditional market just across the street from our hotel. You can find everything from handmade jewelry to clothes and all kinds of Korean souvenirs.

Inspired by the beautiful accessories seen on actresses in Korean dramas, my mom and I were primarily interested in shopping for jewelry. Like the last time we came to Dongdaemun back in 2016, we walked into what looked like a large department store with dozens of merchants crafting their own jewelry — almost like a factory, though. It was like a jewelry lover’s paradise.

At one vendor, I grabbed a few pairs of earrings and brought them up to the merchant, who asked me a question in Korean. After I responded with a blank stare, she simply nodded and pointed to the price that flashed on the cash register. I handed her the appropriate amount of won — Korean currency — and went on to the next vendor.

At the next vendor, I found a few other pieces of jewelry I liked and handed them to the merchant. This one shook her head and said something in Korean. Then she tried again in English: “wholesale,” she said.

It suddenly made sense why this place looked somewhat like a factory. We figured out that this is where retailers would buy jewelry in bulk and sell them to consumers.

Feeling like the definition of tourists, we walked out and browsed the other shops in the area instead. Lucky for me, I got the earrings I wanted thanks to the nice vendor who allowed me to buy them from her, but it was a little more difficult to find anything remotely like the jewelry heaven we had just walked through.

After finishing up a quick lunch here, we then ventured over to another popular shopping district in Seoul: Myeongdong.

Anyone who loves shopping — and especially shopping for Korean skincare products — would adore this bustling area packed with hundreds of stores, restaurants and street food.

Among the many Korean skincare stores at every corner were Etude House, Innisfree, Aritaum and Nature Republic.

One complaint I have, however, was the pesky salesgirls who greeted me in foreign languages (thinking I was either from Japan or China) or followed me around the store like shadows. Frankly, it almost made me not want to shop there.

But the highlight of Myeongdong was trying the fish shaped waffle stuffed with ice cream and topped with honeycomb at one of the street food vendors. That was the perfect way to cap off a long shopping day in Seoul.

2 thoughts on “Postcard: Shopping adventure in Seoul

  1. Hi Mel,

    Looks like everybody loves shopping in South Korea….so much to buy!! Love the pictures and the shops look a lot cleaner than the ones in China. Thanks for sharing.

    It’s already August and we’re still wearing masks and social distancing. I don’t think we’ll ever be back to “normal” again. I guess we’ll have to get used to the “new normal” whatever that will be.

    Take care and thanks again for the pictures.


    Aunty Pat

    1. Hi aunty! Yes, so much to buy and everything is relatively inexpensive! Hope you are staying safe and healthy – this year has been sad and strange, and I wish the world would get back to “normal” again. Take care!

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