Flea Markets/Second Hand Shops in Korea

 

Essential Tour Morning 620×140

Guest post by “A”! Thank you!
[If you would like to make a guest post, send an e-mail over to [email protected]!]

Finding unique clothing designs and larger sizes in Korea can be a challenge for many newcomers. Korea is a country where the term “one size” fits all is sometimes the only measurement you can find in a store (see Seoulistic’s post on Korea sizes here). Unfortunately, most people are not all one size and the rest of us needs to look for alternative destinations for clothes shopping. Itaewon and chain stores from the USA or Europe are popular for having multiple sizes available, but the quality is sometimes lacking and the inflated price tags don’t really help price conscious shoppers (see how most people miss out on saving while shopping in Korea). Moreover, it probably won’t be a surprise to see another person wearing the same outfit, since these chain stores sell thousands of the same design to a very small demographic in Korea. Although you can find inexpensive and fashionable clothing in many local stores and shopping districts, the unoriginal styles and cheap quality may be a big turn off for some. Department stores are usually the go-to place for people who can afford it, but these stores are again catering to the dominant Korean physique and may not be able to accommodate other sizes depending on what you need/are looking for.

Luckily, Korea is starting to really embrace the idea of flea markets and second hand shops for gently used clothing and accessories. If you are looking for larger sizes or are in search of clothing with a more individualistic style, it’s recommended that you do some treasure hunting at one of the more popular weekend markets or shops. At first, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by all of the choices, but it’s worth a look and you may just find a diamond among all of the stones. Another plus to shopping second hand is that it’s incredibly cost-efficient. You can find the same leather jacket at a flea market for around 10,000 won ($9) that you would pay close to $100-150 for in a department store or boutique! Sizes are also very diverse and you can find both US and European sizes for most of the clothing being sold. Brand names are also mixed in with the non-branded items. High quality bags, shoes, jackets, sweaters, dresses, jewelery, etc. You can find it all at your local flea market or second hand shop.

Most items seem to come from the USA or Europe. Although there is no way to be sure where the vendors get their items, you can find many different styles and brands if you are willing to look. A friend recently bought some certified Ray-Ban sunglasses for 30,000 won and another friend bought a brand new purse for 3,000 won. Not all items at these places are second hand. Sometimes you can find items with the price tag still attached or in like new condition. Most people will not know that you bought your new winter jacket at a flea market or new work shoes from a second hand store. It’s a great way to save money, find unique styles, larger sizes, brand names on the cheap, and discover a side of Korea you may not have explored before! Most flea markets are only open on the weekend and usually the big ones are located in Seoul. However, you can find second hand stores hidden in nooks and crannies almost everywhere in Korea and sometimes they even take up shop in subway station stops!

Here are two possible flea markets to keep an eye out for in Seoul:

Seocho Flea Market
When: Saturday (dependent on the weather)
Time: 9:00 – 15:00 (but try to get there between 10:00 – 13:00 in order to get the best selection!)
Where: Get off at Sadang Stn. Line 2 (Green). Go out exit 12 and walk between the bakery and cafe.
Items: Clothes, shoes, accessories, bags, jewelry, watches, household items, etc.
Price range: Around 500 won to 50,000 won. Generally 3,000 – 10,000 won for most clothing. Even jackets!
Note: Remember to barter if you can! If you buy multiple items, try to haggle for a discount. 😉

Indoor/Hipster Flea Markets

As flea markets and second hand clothing becomes more popular, the younger generation can be found embracing the concept by holding monthly events where they sell their old clothing and accessories. While this is not a flea market in the traditional sense, you can find more alternative and unique styles at these hipster-like organized flea markets, often held indoors, and advertised through word of mouth. For this kind of second hand market, you go for the people watching first, and shopping second. 😉

This is where you will find button down shirts with rhinestones on the shoulders, or patent leather loafers being sold next to platform converse sneakers. These edgy pieces usually cost a bit more, but you can usually negotiate with the seller until both of you agree on a selling price. Sizes are less diverse at these indoor markets since most of the vendors are selling their old clothes, but sometimes you can find someone selling European or American clothing or shoes. It just takes a bit of searching to find it.

A popular monthly event:
Platoon Seoul Flea Market
For pictures and location, check out 10Mags excellent description of this hip new flea market scene in Korea.

While the Platoon market tends to have more foreigners present, another popular market with young Koreans is called 50 Seoul. The location of this flea market seems to change every month, so you have to keep track of it through facebook or other media sources such as naver. See pictures of this event:

Furniture/Household Items

If you’ve just arrived in Korea and need some household items for cheap, try heading to the Folk Flea Market in Seoul (also, check out Seoulistic’s super simple guide to getting setup in Korea). Although you can find clothing, sports equipment, electronics, hard liquor, antiques, and other odds and ends at this market, it’s also a great place to find second hand furniture and household items. Chairs, tables and other large items can be quite expensive to purchase new. Even online the prices vary, and if you are new to Korea, you may not have a lot of expendable cash in the beginning. If you find yourself in need of a coffee table, dresser, or other random knick knacks, the Folk Flea Market may be a place to hit up if you are in Seoul. If you live outside of Seoul, then try searching for second hand shops in your area that may carry household goods in addition to clothing. Usually you will find these places near your local neighborhood markets or in the train/subway station.

Seoul Folk Flea Market
When: Everyday, except closed on every 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month
Time: 10:00 – 19:00
Where: Sinseoldong Station on subway Lines 1 (Dark Blue) and 2 (Green) exit #9. Turn right at the first intersection and then look for the signs in English.
Items: Clothes, accessories, jewelry, electronics, alcohol, antiques, furniture, household items, etc.
Note: Remember to barter if you can! If you buy multiple items, try to haggle for a discount. 😉

About Keith

Keith Kim is a Korean-American living in Seoul, Korea. He likes espresso shots, photography art and he loves his Playstation 3. He started seoulistic.com as a hobby site, and is now in the process of turning it into a full-time business. Wish him luck! Check out his blog for an uncensored view on entrepreneurship, dating and life in Korea.Personal Blog: gyopokeith.com Facebook: facebook.com/gyopokeithkim Twitter: @gyopokeith Youtube: "Gyopokeithe-mail me anytime at: gyopokeith [at] gmail.com

6 comments

  1. Snowflake

    Awesome! I love the idea that you can find small treasures amongst an interesting variety of products. ^-^

  2. 147

    Sinseol-dong station also has a pretty nice flea market area from what I remember.

  3. RobStandard

    Man, I am from the US. Clothes cannot get uglier and of poorer quality than here. I also travel to Korea. A mecca of good quality clothing compared the the shit here. So the first para of this post is …?

  4. already im doing the used cloth business from south korea busan, i export to the SRI L AMKA. so i want to know about there price, quality, minimum quantity. and about item. pls mail me

  5. Arie

    where can i buy used or even new specialized japanese action figures like ultraman, kaijus (monsters), gundam, etc? is there a flea market that sells toys too? thanks!

  6. sylvia

    i have seen on your website the market which i loved so much.i would to the market soon.
    thanks