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Five Day Market, Jeju, South Korea

10 June 2007 No Comment

On the second and seventh date in the month (therefore every five days) a large piece of land close to the airport becomes a deep labyrinth of market stalls. Stretched out under a vast canvas is everything you could associate with your typical market: fruit, vegetables and kitchenware. However this being Korea, there are quite few extra items on sale. Shield your eyes from the glare of the bare light bulbs and step inside.

The predominant item on sale is food – stall upon stall of it. The old ladies always seem to be preparing more to go on the pile that’s already there. One wonders then how they’re able to sell all of this before it goes off, out of date and/or rotten.

Other stalls include meat and jewellery. Thinking of decorating your apartment? Visit the plants and find something to suit your taste. Child, teen and adult clothing are available, including the traditional “Gal”.These brown coloured garments hanging at the stalls are a notable piece of history and tradition on Jeju.

The “Gal” clothing items are reminders of the working class clothes that the people used to wear here. Made using unripe, crushed, persimmons their dye is used to strengthen the fabric which also helps prevent decay. It will most certainly be cheaper to buy an item at this market than from an expensive tourist boutique in the city.

It is also possible to buy a pet here – an attractive opportunity for some foreigners. Anything from turtles to crabs with painted shells, dogs, cats and rabbits can be bought.

However with a market like this it is best to get in there and look for yourself. You’ll be jostling shoulder-to-shoulder with others at a stall for space while the seller encourages you to buy their wares. This place is busy and has compact aisles. At times you may find yourself not moving for minutes on end as you wait for a browsing customer to make a decision.

Now a little on bargaining: some market sellers seem reluctant to enter into this practice. Prices are mixed throughout, some inflated, others an absolute bargain. It depends on the individual seller.

If you’re heading there by taxi take heed: traffic is extremely heavy once you turn off the main road and under the five day market sign. The driver might not let you get out because he won’t be able to turn around and get a fare. Solution: ask the driver to go just past the entrance. This will save everyone a little time and hassle. It’ll also save you a few hundred Won to spent elsewhere.

The Jeju City Traditional Five Day Market is most definitely worth a visit, especially for the new and un-initiated foreigner. However if you’ve been in Korea a while there might not be anything new for you. With the exception of “Gal” clothing.

Getting there

Dong 1-dong, Jeju-si. The market is a little out of the city. From Shin-Jeju it should be no more than about 6,000won taxi ride. To get there tell the driver: 재주시리 민손오일시장. City bus 36, 37 and 67 will also get you there.

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