An Authentic Korean Shopping Experience
Gukje Sijang (국제시장), or International Market in Korean was set up during the Korean war as Korean refugees fled to Busan, the last standing region in Korea that remained in the hands of the R.O.K and U.S forces, and set up stalls in order to make a living. Gukje Market is one of South Korea’s largest markets, comprising a few hundred stalls located in the many alleyways that connect to the nearby Bupyeong Market as well as the Kkangtong Market.
Gukje Market is located in the central shopping belt of Nampo-dong, near to famous attractions such as the Jagalchi Fish Market, the Nampo-dong shopping district, Yongdusan Park as well as various markets such as Bupyeong Market and Kkangtong market. Visitors get to experience a truly authentic Korean shopping experience at Gukje Market, which stocks a variety of goods, many of them made in Korea. You can find almost anything that you might be looking for, such as everyday household items, fresh produce, Korean snacks, Korean traditional clothings, souvenirs, fashion accessories and even imitation goods.
Shops and stalls are plenty and packed within a small area with electricity lines hanging loosely from above, adding to the charms of the area.
If you are looking to purchase souvenirs, it is generally a good idea to get them from Gukje Market as many of these stalls selling souvenirs are owned by friendly ahjummas or ajushis (uncles or aunties) living in the area. They tend to give discounts even without you asking for it if the purchase quantity is big enough. Busan people are known to be warm and friendly, so don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation in simple English!
Also, do experience dining at the many food stalls located at the market. Fret not if you cannot speak Korean, as many stalls actually provide menus with pictures on it. You can order simply by pointing at the pictures, and Korean street eating doesn’t get more authentic than sitting by the roadside and enjoying your meals with the locals, does it?
Muslim travellers may have to take note though that the popular Korean snack ‘soondae’, or blood sausage is actually made with pig’s intestines and blood.
Fish cakes are a famed product of Busan. The famous ‘Samjin Eomuk’ fish cakes franchise shop that serves cooked fish cakes in various different flavours (there is one in Singapore’s Orchard ION shopping mall) hails from Busan. Go to any wet market and you are bound to see plenty of stalls selling these fish cakes, or ‘eomuk’ in Korean. Feel free to help yourself to the samples laid out in front of the stall.
With its proximity to major attractions in the area, Gukje Market is definitely a must-go destination when you are in Busan. For visitors looking to experience an authentic shopping and dining experience in Korea, Gukje Market is well equipped to provide you with just what you are looking for!
How to get there:
After exiting from Nampo Station, head towards the mega Nampo-dong shopping district. Follow the general passageway at the district, towards the direction of the mountains you see in the distance and you should reach a major road. The market that you see across the road is Gukje Market.
- Address: 36, Junggu-ro, Jung-gu, Busan
- Subway: Nampo Station
- Opening Hours: 0900 ~ 2000 (Closed 1st & 3rd Sunday of each month)