Wow this video seems so old. We made this video in 2011 more or less as a video to share with our friends and family back in the US. With our busy schedules (teaching and video making) we had to plan a special time to go do our Christmas shopping, since we were buying for both families and I wasn’t about to do all of the shopping by myself. I did choose the location though.
There are a lot of places to go shopping in Korea. I think that’s the one thing I can always count on not having problems doing. All you have to do to successfully shop in Korea is learn how to say the numbers in Hangul and try to ignore that there will likely be sales people stalking your every move. Some great places to go are:
Gangnam (though pretty expensive)
Dongdaemun (be prepared to barter)
Insadong (traditional stuff and crafts)
Namdaemun (essentially a big flea market)
Itaewon (for big sizes and tailor made)
Hongdae/Ehwa (for young trendy stuff)
But my favorite – Myeongdong, is one of the ultimate shopping areas smack dab in the heart of Seoul.
I’ve heard people advertise Myeongdong as the expensive shopping area, but I disagree. I’ve found some incredibly great bargains there. Essentially the area is one big outlet mall – a neighborhood that’s almost all shopping. There is a huge selection of International and Korean department stores and tiny little hole in the wall shops. Crammed in between are people selling accessories and food from carts and hundreds of people. No joke, this place is always packed full of people. I personally love it because it has 5 of my favorite stores located close together – Forever 21, H&M, Uniqlo, Zara (I splurge on shoes there occasionally), and A# (an apple store). There’s something comforting about being able to walk into familiar stores, read price tags, be left alone – and did I mention ‘western’ sizes? For those who’ve never been to Korea, clothing is generally made to fit the typical Asian body – many items are ‘one size’ and women’s shoes don’t often come in larger sizes. As a small girl, I was horrified the first time I tried to buy jeans and discovered that I was a “largee” size. I swear I tried on almost all of the jeans in one department store in Dongdaemun to find them way more than I wanted to spend and that none of them fit.
I don’t have that problem in Myeongdong. While I could shop in one of the many stores, I find that these 3 clothing stores generally have what I’m looking for and IN MY SIZE! They also have sizes for people larger than I am and so, are pretty popular with the foreign community. There are also plenty of other stores other than the one I mentioned where you can find almost ANYTHING that you could want. If you can’t find it there, many of the other shopping areas I mentioned are within walking distance or a short subway ride away.
For these reasons, it’s become a favorite place of mine to go Christmas shopping. The atmosphere then is almost magical with the crowded streets, street vendors with steaming hot goodies, holiday music playing, Christmas decorations everywhere and if you’re lucky the soft snowfall to add to the ambience.