Hongdae Free Market

2 weeks back I was in Seoul to hang out with a few friends. As usual I booked a hostel in Hongdae. There’s quite a few in the area, and thus far they’ve all been decent enough (though some are much better than others). I’d never really explored Hongdae in the daytime. Everyone knows the area for the clubs and nightlife, but there was one thing I wanted to check out during the daylight hours: the Hongdae Free Market (홍대 프리 마켓)

I found out about it just doing a quick search for “things to do in Hongdae” on Google. The Free Market is basically an open air market set up in a park for local artists to sell their wares. Since my major was Fine Arts and I love making crafts I was excited to check it out.

Welcome to the Free Market

The market is every Saturday from March until November from 1 pm – 5 pm. It’s held at Hongik Children’s Park, right across the street from Hongik University, so it’s not hard to find. It was a great day to go. The weather was warm and the sun was shining. Just the right weather for admiring art and dropping some cash.

An intimate market

The park isn’t that big, but they pack it with plenty of talented artists showing their talents. There were so many cool things!  I wanted to buy much more than I did, but I restrained myself. All the more reason to go back, right? Of course I gotta show off the things I picked up —

This was my first purchase of the day (and the vendor’s first sale of the day as well). She said she came from California, and she was selling a variety of hand-painted shoes. I love the bright colors, and they’re actually pretty comfy! If you wanna check out her stuff she has a website – www.slow2go2.com.

I couldn’t resist these. The penguin is one of my favorite animals, so I grabbed this coin purse. It’s also big enough to hold cards. The camera is a neat little wallet. Both are made from felt and very sturdy. The coin purse was 10,000 won and the wallet was 12,000.

There was a woman at a table doing calligraphy on various bookmarks and cell phone straps. Turns out she teaches calligraphy to foreigners in Seoul. If I lived up there I’d love to go for lessons. Alas! I’m a bit too far south. But if you’re curious, go check out her blog – Boot Touch 붓터치. I bought a bookmark and asked her to write “happy Janelle” in Korean. 🙂 I also bought a cell phone strap for a friend. They were only about 3,000-4,000 each. They’re very cute and inexpensive gifts.

There was another woman who had lovely jewelry. I chose this bracelet made with lapis lazuli.

This is another fun purchase – a double-sided necklace. One side has the colorful glass and the other is the flat 2-toned rose.

The last thing I bought were these cute coffee cup earrings. I don’t drink a lot of coffee, but I couldn’t resists these.

If you’re looking to hit up the market too, it’s just a short walk from Hongik station.

Go out exit 9 and walk straight until the 1st intersection.  Turn left and walk straight up the hill towards Hongik University. When you get to the end, right in front of the uni, turn right. The park is just around the corner on the right side. You can walk up some stairs or take the side street.

My advice is, if you like these sorts of things, take enough cash. However, if you run out there’s an ATM conveniently outside one of the nearby stores.

If you’re looking for a little more info, you can check out the website (only in Korean, sorry) – Free Market

And here’s just a few other pics I took while wandering around Hongdae ~

One of many streets with plenty of fashion to look at. A lot of the prices are low, so it’s hard to resists sometimes.

Oh, there you are, Perry.
(Phineas & Ferb reference btw)

I’m curious how one might be part of the market. I make accessories mostly for fun; however, most of the stuff I’ve made lately is just sitting in my craft basket. I may want to find a way to sell them. I suppose that’s one of my next missions!




New specs and hair

Chances are, during your stay in Korea, you’re going to need new glasses or a haircut. You may be the kind of adventurous person who doesn’t mind the language barrier and will bravely head out to whichever shop strikes your fancy.

Hair salon – Lee Chard

When I came I went to a hair salon by the name of Kim Shin that had 1 girl who could speak decent English. Unfortunately, she moved back to Australia during the summer so I went without a stylist for awhile. My co-worker gave me a heads up about a gal named Seung Ah at the Lee Chard salon (you’ll see *tons* of these around) near Tanbang station in Daejeon.

I must say I love this location. They always treat you well. The decor is rather fancy-schmancy. The best thing is that it’s so cheap. Haircuts will run you about 12,000 won. I just got my hair colored and bangs trimmed for 44,000 over the weekend.

You can get there a few ways.

– City Hall station – go out exit 1 or 8 and walk straight for about 5-10 minutes. When you see the Home Plus cross the street and go left. There’s a Coffee Bean cafe on the ground floor, and Lee Chard is on the 2nd.

– Tanbang station – exit 3 –  walk straight a bit and turn right. It’ll be on your right.

– Taxi – you can say “Tanbang yeok [station]” or “Tanbang Home Plus” (note: the last time we said that the driver seemed a little confused, but when we said “Tanbang station” he knew where to go).


Last time I picked up glasses and contacts I went to the Yuseong Home Plus near my apartment. They didn’t speak much English, but I had my prescription from home, so it was only a matter of picking a pair I wanted, waiting about 20 min, and paying. Not bad. This weekend, however, I decided to look for another place. I figured I needed my prescription updated anyway.

The process was very easy. They have a number of showcases with different kinds. You’re free to pick out whichever ones you want and try it on. The optometrist spoke a little English which was great since he checked my eyes while I was there. By the way, if you didn’t already know, glasses are incredibly cheap in Korea. I got 2 pairs of glasses for 105,000 won (about $105) total — total. There was a sale on lens that day, so instead of paying 60,000 for 2 I got them for 30,000. Dang yo. I just had to wait until the next day to pick them up.

[EDIT] Since writing this post, Taeguk Optical has moved/closed. I haven’t been to another glasses store yet, but when I do I’ll make a new post. In the meantime, I’ve been told Davichi over by City Hall is supposed to be good.

That should cover you for hair and specs should you live in Daejeon. Happy to answer questions in the comments or by email. 🙂

Noeun Market

The weather last Sunday was pretty spotty. Crummy enough to make me not want to go to the soccer game that day (Wooooo Daejeon Citizen FC!). But after the game started it got just good enough where I didn’t want to stay inside all either, so I decided to head to the market right next to the World Cup Stadium.

Noeun Market

If you get off at the World Cup Stadium subway stop, right outside is the Noeun Agricultural Wholesale Market. There’s a nice map right outside the subway that tells which section is which. There are actually 2 sections dedicated solely to radish and cabbage auctions – 2 main ingredients for kimchi (this is Korea after all).

Sections 5 & 6 = hella radish/cabbage

My first stop was Fruits & Veggies since I haven’t been getting much of those. However, I’m not much a cook (yet) so I really had nothing in mind. This section is wonderful though! Stand after stand of countless fruits and vegetables. Almost everything is packaged in decent amounts.


At market

So much to choose from!

I merely wandered for about 10 minutes or so. This was partly to check what vendors had and compare pricing. It was also due to my shyness of speaking to shopkeepers in general. They’re very helpful and also a bit aggressive in trying to sell their wares, and of course no one speaks English. I’ve learned key phrases like “How much is it?”, “Give me ____ please”, and the all important “Give me a discount please!” (I haven’t used this ‘cuz I’ve never haggled in my life). I did find a nice stand with delicious looking strawberries. I got a ridiculous amount for 10,000 won (roughly $10 US) and brought them to work the next day. I assure you there isn’t a single one left.

My next stop was a sort of general shop selling things like snacks, seaweed, nuts, and the like. I only walked away with some dried seaweed for my rice, but the bulk “bar snacks” were slightly tempting — if you live(d) in Korea you know which ones I mean.

I assume these appeal to bar owners

The next stop was the meat shop, but unfortunately I didn’t walk out with anything. As I said before, I’m not really a cook though I want to learn. Also meat here tends to be a little price-y and I’m lacking funds until pay day. The last stop was the fish market. It’s an interesting sight to see though I was taken back. I’m just not used to seeing fish like that, and honestly I didn’t even know what any of it was except for squid and crabs. I couldn’t cook a fish if I wanted. Pretty much all fish eaten here it cooked with the bones in too. Annoying to the nth degree! What I couldn’t give for a good filet or even fish fry!

Lots o' fish

Here fishy, fishy, fishy

I was pleased with the market in general especially since it’s only about 10 minutes or so by train, plus I don’t have to walk far to the station either way. Once I pick up some recipes (and stop being lazy) I hope to buy quite a bit from here. My co-worker informed me, though, that there are more markets like these. She also happens to buy meat at one of these other markets, so I hope to head there sometime in the future.