Traditional markets dot the map of Seoul with some becoming more popular than others either due to a central location, the size or a delicacy or item you just won’t get anywhere else. Tong-in Market (통인시장) probably became famous due to it’s location in the high traffic area just west of Gyeongbukgung Palace, but over the years it has become popular with tourists for another reason.
Tourists from all over come to Korea and though many want to be adventurous and try the spicy and delicious Korean cuisine, going all in and getting a whole meal without knowing what’s in store can be a risk many do not wish to undertake. At Tong-in Market, visitors can opt to pay W5,000 and try just a helping of numerous Korean fare at a great price at the “Dosirak” Cafe, or Lunchbox Cafe, inside. Go there to be cheap or go there to try something new, either way, it’s a good decision for a lunch while out in the city.
Tong-in Market was established in 1941 as a public market for the Japanese residents in the area at the time, but after the war ended, street vendors and store owners swooped in to grab a spot. Now, 75 shops and stores, mainly focused on delicious Korean food sit side by side ready to share their goods. At the Customer Service Center located in the center of the market, visitors can pay W5,000 and receive a tray much like those used by children in elementary school and a string of coins to pay the vendors. The coins are each worth W500 in the market and most dishes range in price from W500 (1 coin) to W1000 (2 coins) with just a few being as much as W1500 (3 coins).
Spicy side dishes, fried fish and veggies, noodle soups and kimbob (rice rolled in seaweed with other vegetables inside) are ready and waiting to be eaten. The vendors that are open to accepting the coinage have a sign that sits at their stall and they can be seen slicing, dicing, flipping and frying away in anticipation of hungry customers on the way. Koreans and tourists alike line up to get their share of fried fish, broiled meat, spicy vegetables and more.
To find out what this market’s most famous food item is and to get directions and hours, head over to The Soul of Seoul for more information.
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