World Comes To Seoul for A Shopping ExtravaganzaSeoul may be a metropolis, but many ethnic items are hard to find here. On Tuesday, however, just in time for the holiday shopping season, about 45 nations will be displaying their wares in a bazaar called "The Day the World Comes to Seoul."
The annual event, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Marriott hotel, is the largest event of the year hosted by the Seoul International Woman's Association.
In the past, people shopped at the 20-year-old bazaar for good cheeses. Now that people in Seoul can purchase cheese at hotel delis, however, wine and handcrafted items have become best sellers.
But since participating embassies are able to import large, fresh quantities of many rare goods, Abbe Carroll Horsburgh, the bazaar chairwoman, says, "I expect the traditional items, real Camembert and wheels of Gouda, to do well."
The women's association has about 1,000 members from more than 60 countries. Because many influential ambassadors' wives participate in the bazaar, items that are otherwise hard to import are sometimes given special treatment by the Korean customs service.
Even so, feather dusters from South Africa － another traditional best-seller － were held up in Busan until Saturday.
Last year, the association raised 140 million won ($108,000). The money went to 45 different Korean charities. Thousands of people browsed in stalls filled with handmade Christmas decorations from the United States, shoes and pashmima shawls from India, perfume bottles from Egypt and jewelry and food from a host of countries around the world.
Attendance was down last year, mostly because it was the first year the event has been held at the Marriott hotel and because it was held the day before the national college entrance exams. But this year, organizers predict attendance will be back up to its usual 5,000.
There will be a grand raffle, and prizes include a Persian carpet valued at 8 million won, an ankle-length mink coat, World Cup tickets, a pearl necklace, round-trip airplane tickets to the United States and a year of dining out in restaurants all over Seoul － including the Shilla's La Continental, Hilton's Il Ponte, Grand Hyatt's buffet and Westin Chosun's O'Kim's.
"We're trying to reach younger Korean women," Mrs. Horsburgh said.
For more information, visit the women's association Web site at www.siwapage.com.
by Joe Yong-hee