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Date [ 2008-08-26, 18:20 ]

Dongdaemun Market


(Kuala Lumpur=Koreanpress) by John Kim = One of the most popular shopping spots in Korea is the Dongdaemun Market or Dongdaemun. It  is a market and shopping center in Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea.

The largest shopping center in South Korea, it was opened in July, 1905. Originally it was located in Yeji-dong whose name literally means "a neighborhood for learning politeness", so the market was first called Baeugaejang (market for learning).

Dongdaemun Market is located near Dongdaemun (Great East Gate) from which it takes its name. In total, the market has 26 shopping malls situated over 10 blocks, 30,000 speciality shops, and 50,000 manufacturers.

The market sells goods ranging from just about everything, notably silks, clothes, shoes, leather and  sporting goods, plumbing materials, electronics, office supplies, fortune tellers, toys and food courts specialing in Korean cuisine.

The market was traditionally a night market and wholesalers once operated from 1:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Now, the area is open for 18 hours a day from 10:30 a.m. to 5:00 a.m., with some stores open 24 hours a day, although most stores close on Mondays and holidays.

Dongdaemun Market is Korea representative wholesale and retail market. It has established itself as the shopping kingdom of Seoul. It is especially famous for night shopping. Inaddition to retail sellers from all over the nation, foreign visitors from all parts of the world throng here at nights. The neon lights burn brightly, the Dongdaemun market into a lively and vigorous spectacle is more active at night than during the day.

Old, New and More
Many of the new stores have been targeting college and high school students. The older 2- and 3-story buildings with industrial shops run by housewives juma?, have narrow walkways between the stores, poor lighting, exposed plumbing and conduits. The more new high rise stores resemble department stores, having wider walkways, brighter lighting, modern stylings, loud techno-pop music blaring from speakers and college-aged youths running the stores.

Dongdaemun Shopping Town and Dongdaemun Chain Store (across the street from Dongdaemun) both exemplify old Dongdaemun Market. They contain many shops catering to newlyweds, selling clothing materials, bedding, dishes and silverware, and other essential items for starting a new household. Many couples and their parents head here before their wedding to get custom-made clothes, curtains and bedding materials. Young couples also come here to get tradtional and formal clothes for their small children.

On the other side of Samil Elevated Road, across from Dongdaemun Stadium, are Doosan Tower and Migliore, today's hotbe bought 20-30% cheaper from Dongdaemun Market than from other places. Besides the big shopping malls such as Doosan Tower, Migliore, Freya Town, Designers Club, there are the older markets like Pyeonghwa, Shin Pyeonghwa  and Dong Pyonghwa Markets. Simply put, the modern shopping malls and traditional conventional markets are concentrated here to form a complex shopping ground.

Modern shopping malls with retailer shops are in Doosan Tower, Migliore, and Freya Town. Traditional conventional markets with wholesalers are located in Jeil Pyeonghwa Market, Hongin Market, Designers Club and APM. The 13 conventional markets near the Dongdaemun Stadium such as Jeil Pyeonghwa and Hongin maintain a simple environment targeting customers aged 30-40.

They interact with national retailers or middle-man merchants at nights. As the representative markets of the area, Jeil Pyeonghwa, Hongin, and Gwangjang Markets attract foreign merchants, whom can be seen packing products and transporting them. Wholesale shopping malls include Art Plaza, Designers Club and APM. They usually open at 8 in the evening and close at daybreak. The common characteristic of these malls is that the prices are lower due to their transactions with wholesalers rather than retail customers. You should note that they are not so accommodating to individual customers.

On the contrary, big shopping malls built recently form the axis of modern retail markets. Most of them open from 10 or 11 in the morning till 5 in the morning the following day. These shopping malls provide department store convenience. With fashionable interior deco, bright lights, wide hallways, and lively music, they attract young people.

Some of the representative shopping malls are Doosan Tower, Migliore and Freya Town. They sell women clothes (formal, casual), mensclothes (formal, casual), children clothes, fashion accessories, shoes, and wedding articles. The tall buildings have many stores, and most of the stores are numbered so it is important to note the store number. For every floor, there are rooms where customers can try on the clothes before buying them. Also, every floor is divided into women and mens clothing sections. There are also escalators to each floor.

T-shirts are usually 10,000-20,000 won, dresses 40,000-50,000 won, pants 10,000-20,000 won and formal clothes are 70,000-80,000 won. Shoes are from 50,000 to 60,000 won. On the second basement floor of Doosan Tower, Migliore and Freya Town are imported goods where brands can be bought at cheaper prices compared to those at department stores. Seasonal clothes can be bought at 30-50% and new products at 20-30% cheaper.

Foreign Language Services for tourists

The big shopping malls provide convenient services for foreigners. Especially the twelve-story Doosan Tower, which provides guides, brochures and announcements in three languages - English, Japanese and Chinese. Due to better services to foreigners, the number of foreign visitors is steadily increasing. There are many tourists from Southeast Asian countries along with Japanese, Chinese, and Taiwanese travellers.

The reason for the popularity is the low prices and fashionable styles. Many have complimented on the quality. Thus, tourists from Russia, Mongolia, parts of Africa are increasing along with clothing and accessory wholesalers, which explains why Dongdaemun is now an international shopping zone.

The Korea International Trade Association (KITA) recently opened the Dongdaemun Market Information Center to assist foreign buyers in Dongdaemun Market. Located in the basement of the Freya Town Building, staff members answer questions and offer assistance in English, Japanese, and Chinese. They also have some information available in Russian. The Center is open daily. / KP


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