Dongdaemun is the shopping mecca of not just Seoul, but all of Korea. It's constantly jam-packed with people looking for the best deals on all types of clothes, accessories, and textiles. Both wholesale and retail shops open late in the evening and stay open all night long until the next morning, with some shops even staying open 24/7. Dongdaemun Market was established in 1905 as a traditional marketplace, but by 1970 had transformed into a massive textile market, exporting textiles overseas and contributing to Korea's rapid economic growth.
However, the working conditions in these markets were horrid, with many workers forced to take amphetamine injections to work through the night, and others succumbing to diseases such as tuberculosis. This culminated in the self-immolation of worker and activist Jeon Tae-Il in protest of the horrible conditions workers in Dongdaemun were subjected to. His actions galvanized the labor movement and workers began to organize and receive better treatment. The activities of Jeon Tae-Il and working conditions at Dongdaemun Market in the early 1970's were portrayed in Park Kwang-Su's award-winning film, A Single Spark.
As Korea's economy started to prosper, massive malls and shopping complexes began to pop up in the area to take advantage of the cheap textiles available, stocking the latest fashion trends at affordable prices. Nowadays Dongdaemun is the premier shopping destination in Korea. Wholesalers from around the country occupy the market at night, looking for the best deals on textiles and clothes, while retail shops and outlets cater to casual shoppers searching for bargains on the latest trends. There are thousands of stores in the area, selling clothes, fabrics, shoes, accessories, bedding, sewing materials, etc. There are also many stores that do wholesale custom orders for clothes, usually uniforms, jackets, hats, and t-shirts for organizations or clubs. Some of Korea's largest conglomerates have even opened up shopping complexes in the area, most of which are open throughout the day and night.
Doota Mall was opened by one of Korea’s largest conglomerates, Doosan, in 1999, and has become on the of the most popular malls in Dongdaemun, with over 100 designer brands available and 20 million visitors going through its doors every year. Unlike most malls and markets in the area, it’s open during the day. It’s also one of the most expensive shopping complexes in the district, and vendors here won’t bargain, but it’s still far more affordable than any department store. There are plenty of signs in English, and the amenities are endless: currency exchange, stroller rentals, clothing repairs, Hana Bank, Woori Bank, Tax Refund, convenience stores, and a food court.
Address: Doosan Tower, 275, Jangchungdan-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul
Operating Hours: Monday - Saturday: 10:30 ~ 05:00am (next day), Sunday: 10:30 ~ 24:00
Migliore's floors are packed with clothing vendors and it can get quite claustrophobic. But it has an enormous variety of items for sale; not just clothing and accessories, but traditional hanbok, bedding, hallyu items, souvenirs, and craft supplies too. It’s also incredibly popular amongst teenagers, who make up about 80% of Migliore’s customer base. Here, you should try to haggle because vendors will try to jack the prices up. You'll find a lot of its clothes can be outdated in style compared to Doota, but one great thing is you can often find the same clothing items as Doota selling at Migliore for cheaper.
Address: 263 Jangchungdan-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul
Operating Hours: 10:30 ~ 04:30 (next day)
apM is one of the largest wholesale retailers in Dongdaemun, meaning that you have to buy a minimum number of pieces, usually three, in order to purchase anything from its stores. It’s considered to be on the cutting edge of Korean fashion, housing many young designers, which makes it the most popular wholesale retailer in Korea, that not only attracts domestic fashion retailers, but those from neighboring countries as well.
Address: 105 Euljiro 7-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, Korea
Operating Hours: Sunday - Friday: 20:00 ~ 05:00 (next day) (Closed on Saturdays)
Goodmorning City is a bit of a latecomer compared to most of its competition in the area, having opened in 2008. However, it’s Dongdaemun’s largest mall, housing over 700 stores. And it doesn’t just house fashion vendors, Goodmorning City also has one of the largest Megabox Theaters in Korea, a wedding hall, and many electronics vendors as well. It’s much more spacious than other malls in the area, providing customers with a much more comfortable shopping experience than the normally cramped, claustrophobic shopping centers that Dongdaemun is notorious for.
Address: 247 Jangchungdan-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul
Operating Hours: 10:30 ~ 04:30 (next day) (Closed on Tuesdays)
Sensing a good business opportunity, one of Korea’s largest conglomerates, Lotte, opened a new mall in Dongdaemun 2013 known as Lotte FITIN. Rather than just housing the boutiques of independent designers like other malls in the area, Lotte FITIN hosts established brands such as Nike, Uniqlo, and Polo as well as other up-and-coming independent brands. Besides shopping, Lotte FITIN also has a special Klive concert hall that hosts hologram concerts of some of the top K-Pop acts, as well as a beautiful food court designed by the famed interior designer, Karim Rashid, and stores selling an abundance of hallyu products.
Address: 264, Eulji-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul
Operating Hours: Sunday-Wednesday 11:00 ~24:00, Thursday-Saturday 11:00 ~ 02:00
Pyeonghwa Market sprouted up in 1953 when North Korean refugees gathered in this area to sell clothes made from US army uniforms. It soon morphed into the backbone of Korea’s textile industry, housing an incredible number of sweatshops that were crucial to the development of Korea’s economy, and was the site of one of Korea’s most tragic political incidents when labor activist and worker Jeon Tae-il committed self-immolation in protest of poor working conditions. As Korea’s economy began to prosper, Pyeonghwa Market transformed into a shopping complex, with not only retail shops but custom order clothing outlets as well. This section of Dongdaemun caters to an older crowd nowadays, selling more outdated fashion styles, along with work and hiking gear. Nevertheless, you can still find some interesting clothes and accessories here for cheap, making it a popular spot amongst Seoul’s alternative subcultures and foreign fashionistas alike, including famous German rapper Yung Hurn, who stopped by the market in 2016.
Address: 274, Cheonggyecheon-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul
Dongdaemun Shopping Town and General Market
Dongdaemun Shopping Town and General Market consists of seven floors dedicated to a wide variety of clothing and interior design materials. It’s packed during the day with young fashion students and designers looking for the best deals on quality fabric, lace, embroidery, and other craft materials to complete their projects, older women shopping around for bedding and curtains, and soon-to-be brides looking for hanbok for their wedding. The sheer number of stalls can be overwhelming, and at times it can feel like you’re stuck in a maze, but the stalls are actually organized by block and number, so if you know the number of the stall you’re looking for, it won’t be hard to find. Longtime shoppers usually establish a rapport with a few merchants to get better deals, but many are still susceptible to browsing this wild maze of stalls. If you’re an aspiring young fashion or interior designer, this is the place to check out, but it’s best to go with a Korean friend who’s familiar with the market rather than on your own.
Address: 266 Jong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Operating Hours: Fabric/Garment Materials: 08:00 ~ 18:00, Accessories: 09:30 ~ 19:00, Marriage Supplies & Home Interior: 08:00 ~ 19:00, Restaurants: 07:00 ~ 18:00 (Saturdays ~17:00), Food Court: 07:00 ~ 19:00 (Saturdays ~18:00)
Grilled Fish Alley
Grilled Fish Alley (생선구이골목) has been open for over 40 years, housing over a dozen (you guessed it) grilled fish restaurants. These restaurants are very affordable, with a meal costing no more than 8,000 won, and they’re popular amongst shopkeepers in the area who like to have some soju to go along with their grilled fish. The menus are pretty much the same amongst the restaurants in this alley, each serving fish such as croaker, Spanish mackerel, and cuttlefish, along with stir-fried octopus and squid, and various other stews, soups, and noodle dishes. All the fish at these restaurants are bought fresh daily, pickled in Korean sea salt, then refrigerated to allow it to “ripen”. The fish are lightly grilled in advance, so it takes no more than five minutes for it to finish cooking and arrive at your table. These restaurants usually close around 8 or 9 in the evening, so if you’re looking to try some grilled fish while shopping around Dongdaemun at night, you’re out of luck.
Address: 5 Jong-ro 40ga-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Located between Dongdaemun and Jongno 5-ga stations, Jongno 5-ga Gopchang Alley (종로5가 곱창골목) is one of the most famous spots for gopchang, or grilled tripe/intestines, in Seoul. Situated in Jongno Sinjin Market, the first gopchang restaurants here opened over 50 years ago, and while it might not be as famous as nearby Gwangjang Market, its restaurants are just as good and it maintains a bit more of an authentic atmosphere compared to its counterpart. There are half a dozen restaurants clustered around one section of the market, most named after the regions or cities where their owners are originally from, serving both pork and beef gopchang. These restaurants obviously have similar menus, although there are variations on menu items other than gopchang, with some even serving up samgyeopsal (pork belly) and dakbal (chicken feet).
Address: 231-26 Jongno 5-ga, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Central Asia Town
Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, many Central Asians have come to Korea to start businesses, mainly sending textiles, clothes, and other goods back to their homelands. This led to the growth of Central Asia Town in Dongdaemun, which is home to a variety of Central Asian restaurants serving Russian, Uzbek, and Kazakh cuisine. Dishes such as meat skewers known as shashlik and lamb dumplings are available and good quality vodka is also available for the very reasonable price of 25,000 won per bottle. The most famous restaurant in this area is Samarkand, which has grown into a nationwide chain and has four storefronts in the area.
Address: 110-1 Gwanghui-dong 1-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul
Tucked in an alleyway behind some of Dongdaemun's busiest shopping malls and just a stone's throw away from the hyper-futuristic Dongdaemun Design Plaza lies an ordinary-looking office building called Geumho Tower. However, a closer look at the signage in front of the building and you'll notice it's not written in Korean, but rather in the Cyrillic alphabet. This is Mongolia Town, a ten-floor building filled with various businesses and restaurants catering to Seoul's large, but often overlooked, Mongolian community. The two main restaurants in Mongolia Town are Zaluus Restaurant and Ulaanbaatar Restaurant, which also functions as a small grocery store. Lamb is the quintessential part of Mongolian cuisine, so there's plenty of lamb on the menu, as well as various beef dishes and some vegetable and noodle soups.
Address: 12 Eulji-ro 44-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul
Dakhanmari is a large chicken soup dish that literally translates as “one whole chicken” and there’s a whole alley in Dongdaemun with restaurants that serve it. Dakhanmari Alley sprang up in the late 1970’s when Jinokhwa Halmae opened its doors. Its popularity brought along copycats who opened their own dakhanmari restaurants and Dakhanmari Alley was born. However, Jinokhwa Halmae is the only one in this alley to have received a Michelin rating. Nevertheless, you can’t really go wrong with any restaurant in this alley.
Shopping>Shoes & Clothing
Shopping>Shopping Malls & Streets
|Languages Available||Korean, Chinese, Japanese, English|
|Address||Jong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea 266 Jong-ro|
|Nearest Subway||Dongdaemun, Dongdaemun History & Culture Park|
Take Lines 1 or 4 to Dongdaemun Station and go out Exit 9. -> Walk straight 70 meters and you'll see the entrance to Dongdaemun Market on your left.