Jung-gu and Jongno-gu
HOURS: Daily; hours vary according to vendor
SUBWAY: Dongdaemun (Lines 1, 4), Dongdaemun History & Culture Park (Lines 2, 4, 5)
This vast commercial center, which has its roots in a market that opened in the area in 1905, is less a market now than an entire city district. Dongdaemun is the undisputed capital of Korea’s burgeoning clothing and fashion industry, comprising hundreds of shops and individual vendors that specialize in textiles, design, alterations, and ready-to-wear creations.
It can be roughly divided into two sections on opposite sides of the Cheonggyecheon stream. The section to the south is mainly made up of gleaming, newish shopping complexes such as Doota and Migliore, which carry clothes and accessories catering to the younger set and keep fairly regular department store hours, though they tend to stay open later than other shops in Seoul, closing at 10 or 11 p.m.
To the north of the stream is a labyrinth of textile, clothing, and accessory vendors that supply their wares to retailers throughout the country. Many are open around the clock, and the action here is at its most frenetic well past midnight. There are some truly stellar bargains available, but generally only if you’re buying bulk quantities and know what you’re doing—this is not a place for the fashion neophyte or bargaining-averse.
There’s a tourist information center in the nearby Dongdaemun History & Culture Park (open 9 a.m.-10 p.m. daily) that offers guides and tips to help visitors negotiate the area.
© Jonathan Hopfner from Moon Seoul, 1st Edition