Namdaemun Market is Korea's iconic market featuring 1,700 items and a wide range of food to choose from. Daily visitors to the market tend to roughly average 400,000 and the market is now a must-see attraction for foreign tourists.
Namdaemun Market was named as such because it was located next to Namdaemun Gate (Sungnyemun Gate), the first National Treasure of South Korea. Namdaemun Market was formerly known as Chilpae Market which first opened in the 18th century and had become a commercial center of Seoul. Since then, Namdaemun Market has been witness to joys and sorrows of Korea’s modern history.
There is a saying, "You can find anything in Namdaemun Market except for nuclear bombs and tanks." Before internet technology became highly advanced, Namdaemun Market had been a significant place for shoppers. You could find anything you need such as imported records and coffee beans at the cheapest prices. Even now, it is easier to find items you cannot buy in Namdaemun Market. As the market is located in the heart of Seoul, many foreign tourists tend to visit here. You can easily see foreign tourists browsing around the market while eating hotteok (sugar-filled griddlecake).
Numerous stores which have been operating a business in the market attract many visitors based on their long history and high quality products. Storekeepers provide reliable products such as watches, glasses, and cameras with kindness and sincerity. The clothing market is subdivided into women's clothing, men's clothing, and children's clothing.
Tableware Alley has a wide range of dishes and plates and is visited by customers that range from students to professional cooks. Almost any item can be found being sold in Namdaemun Market, including accessories, bedding, flowers, and jewelry at the varying wholesalers and retailers of the market. It is not surprising that the daily visitors average about 400,000.
You don't want to leave the market with an empty stomach. The iconic foods of Namdaemun Market are galchi jorim (stewed beltfish) and kalguksu (noodle soup) served with boribap (noodle soup served with barley bibimbap). Each dish is served in different alleyways and each restaurant features different tastes and side dishes. In Kalguksu Alley, an order of boribap contains kalguksu and naengmyeon (buckwheat noodles) and an order of kalguksu contains naengmyeon. Even though your stomach will surely become full, you cannot easily resist the temptation of sweet hotteok. Hot hotteok is a perfect dessert and a good way to finish your shopping.
In the past, kings tended to visit markets while remaining incognito in order to study public sentiment. Even now, politicians come to Namdaemun Market for campaigning for votes at election time. Markets reflect the thoughts and lives of common people of all ages. Feeling gloomy or bored? Then, visit Namdaemun Market and feel the people's enthusiasm.