Try Shopping At a Market For ChristmasHoliday shopping in Seoul can be an exciting but affordable adventure. Instead of expensive department stores, why not try the wholesale markets where you can get much better deals? Major wholesale markets are conveniently located throughout the city, but buying can be tricky because there are so many choices. JoongAng Ilbo English Edition has compiled a list of places to go for Christmas shopping.
The best variety of Christmas decorations can be found at Namdaemun (South Gate) market, which is notorious for its labyrinth-like layout. The easiest way is to start at the Hilton Hotel in Namsan and walk down the hill toward the front gate of the market. Turn right at the corner of the Yonse parking lot. Walk about 20 meters and you will see a tourist information center. From there, look for the building called "E-dong." Building E is about a 3 minute walk from the information booth. If you get off at Hoehyeon Station on Line 4 of the subway, you will have to ask directions to "E-dong." On the third floor of Building E are fresh and artificial flowers and plants, wreaths, vases and wrapping paper. There are ready-made decorations or, for more creative shoppers, materials for decoration and floral arrangements. Fresh-cut flowers are sold for less than a third of the retail price, but shoppers should not expect fancy gift wrapping, and minimum purchases are large. Flowers are sold only by the bundle, ribbon by the roll. The building is open from 3 a.m. to 3 p.m. except Sunday.
Having a hard time wrapping your gifts? A simple, inexpensive form of gift wrapping is to put them in a beautiful bag. A tiny shop named Hyundae (02-753-1798) in Namdaemun market sells decorative shopping bags in various sizes and shapes. Some small bags are good for a tiny ring box while others are in the shapes of angels, teddy bears, poinsettias or Chinese urns.
If you fancy Christmas-theme curtains and matching throws in the living room, the wholesale fabric market or Dongdaemun Jonghap Shijang is the place to go. Get off at Dongdaemun (East Gate) Station on Line 1 or 4 and walk toward the gate. The eight-story building has shops selling all kinds of fabric and materials. For material to make various accessories, try the basement. Cotton and polyester blend materials are sold on the "A-dong" side on the second floor. You can buy fabric by the yard. Tape and trimming materials used to match the fabric, however, come only in 20 meter rolls. The market is open every day from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
by Inae Cho