Each region has a unique soil quality formed by mountains and rivers, and greeneries growing in different regions have unique colors as well. Fish from the deep blue sea and sky blue water each boast of individuality as well. As such, our ancestors used to carry their produce and gather together in a certain place and exchanged their produce and flavor. Thus began today’s fifth-day markets.
Moran Traditional Market (It opens every 4th, 9th, 14th, 19th, 24th, and 29th day)
Moran Traditional Market is the largest fifth-day market in Korea. As soon as I got past the entrance, umbrella-shaped tents welcomed me. I witnessed an interesting scene wherein many people were walking around underneath as if having lifted rainbow mountains. The first thing that caught my attention was the beautiful spring flowers. There were fully blossomed flowers for flower arrangements as well as various nursery plants, heralding springtime.
Walking further, I saw big bundles with fat bellies waiting in line. They were filled with grains. Next to the bundles was an old lady turning a millstone. Her wrinkled, tanned hands reminded me of photos in a gallery.
Still, the charm of traditional markets lies in food. Delicious food, the one that made my mouth water from the entrance, was arranged inside the market, boasting of various colors. A big iron pot caught my eye. I approached and saw boiling broth inside. Drawn to a bowl of chewy noodles, I sat down and enjoyed hand-made noodle soup. The facilities and low-sitting stools were a bit shabby, but even those seem to match well with the folk mood and food. In particular, dogs’ barking sound produced a great sound effect, stimulating my curiosity, so I moved toward the spot where I could see the pets.
As expected, they were cute puppy dogs. Some puppies were in a basket hanging on the front of the bicycle, waiting for new owners. Unexpectedly, there were also birds and rabbits at the spot. This market must be an interesting place for children to visit. As I was leaving the market, I dropped by a place that was selling seafood. Blueback fish, shrimps, and splattering claws sticking out of a big plastic washbasin were very interesting to see, so I took a few photos. If you missed the fifth-day market, don’t feel disappointed. Let’s go to an attractive traditional market that opens every day.
Hyeondae Market in Seongnam
Unlike Moran Market, Hyeondae Market was a well-arranged market. Both sides of a long tunnel were lined with stores with history of several hundreds of years.
Fresh vegetables and fluttering fish seemed to come through a time machine… Deep-fried food was so irresistible that my hands started to fumble for money in my pocket. First, I began my tour while eating the popular homely bread that was once introduced on a TV program. The price was very affordable.
LED lighting began to be turned on one by one in the late afternoon, guiding the path. Daffodil and splendid tulip flowers as well as various spring vegetables such as wild chives, shepherd’s purse, and wild asters heralded the spring season. Many shoppers came to the market to get ingredients for dinner. A woman haggling over the price of strawberries in one corner and a foreigner carrying a big backpack made for a charming sight. The scenes can be witnessed in any market around the world.
Jungang Market in Seongnam
Next, I moved to Jungang Market located next to Hyeondae Market. Various foods and wares were sparkling very beautifully under the lighting, so I took a few photos before starting my tour.
Unlike the well-arranged Hyeondae Market, this market had a relatively narrow path. Maybe because of that, the main characters seem to be the merchants rather than the merchandise.
While I was looking at the wiggling squids in the fish tank, I could hear two merchants talking about their children. On the low wooden bench in one corner, two old ladies were chatting, reminding me of a typical Korean traditional market.
This exotic market is the perfect place for visitors to get a glimpse of Korean tradition.
The moon was brightly lit in the dark sky, and the dangling lights looked like musical notes; signboards were arranged like dominos. The paintings on the signboards were very noticeable, telling vividly what each store was selling.
If you want to visit a traditional market where you can take a rest at a beautiful cafe, I strongly recommend this market.
Korean traditional markets are distinctively different from modern markets that simply sell food ingredients and merchandise. They give off warmth, not a space full of people trading goods or one exuding a cold aura. I became curious as to what one would be able to discover and experience at Korean traditional markets.
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