Street markets can found all over Seoul, but one of my favourites is Tongin Market. The small arcade style market is packed to the rafters with all kinds of wonderful traditional Korean street foods. The market is a short walk away from Gyeongbuk Palace, so its the ideal place to stop for lunch if you have visitors. It is also located in the cutest neighbourhood full of adorable and quirky one off stores, and my favourite British bakery Scoff.
One of the most charming things about this market, is that you can exchange 5,000 won for a collection of old coins and a lunch box. You can then use these coins to buy foods to fill your lunchbox. Most items cost 1-2 coins and there is a huge variety of different foods. Almost all of the different stalls offer this service. I am sure kids in particular would enjoy choosing their own foods in exchange for the coins, although even kidults like myself can enjoy it too.
We went to the market at 11am when it was just opening, so everything was extra fresh and just made, so we were able to get some incredible shots, soon after it opened the place began filling up with lunch box customers. One of the things yo have to try at Tongin market is their special crispy fried ddeokbokki, it comes in two ways, spicy and non spicy. Being a girl who is not into her heat I went for the milder sweet option.
There is also an incredible array of banchan style dishes, they have almost everything you could imagine and more. One of my favourites is the very simple fried egg veggies. There are numerous varieties, and with the coin system you can just pick out your favourites. There is also a lot of fried chicken on the stalls so if you haven’t had chance to try Korean fried chicken yet (the other KFC) then this is a great place to try it. I’m particularly fond of the Nyangnyeom sweet and spicy version.
If you are planning to eat your lunch box at the market, there is a seating area in the middle of the market, just above where you buy the lunchbox. If not just tell one of the stores you want your food to go and they will wrap it up for you, and will even give you chopsticks.
Tongin Market is located at 18 Jahamun-ro 15-gil, Cheongunhyoja-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Gyeongbukgeong (line 3) and come out of exit 2. Walk straight for about 5 minutes. You will see the entrance to Tongin Market on your left hand side underneath the awning. For more information you can visit the Tongin Market website. The lunchbox coin exchange is open from 11am-4pm.