Today’s Korean Phrase: Sijang = Market
First off, a mina hamnida is in order for not updating the blog this entire month. My goodness things got VERY busy and most of it was work related so there wasn’t much I felt compelled to blog about in the first place. There are a few things I’m excited to share with you work wise that occurred this past month, but this weekend I finally got back out into town to explore more of Korea, this time at a traditional Korean Marketplace: The Kwangjang Sijang.
So, first you should know the story of why we ended up at the market this Tuesday morning. Edutainer Nina is our resident Seoul Socialite in that she actually has made lots of friends outside of English Village. She somehow got word that the Korean Tourism Board was looking for waygooks to come help them out with a news spot at this market.
Basically they want to promote the market among foreigners by showing that foreigners actually shop there. The problem being, foreigners don’t actually shop there, which is why they needed to bring us in. We traveled about an hour and a half to reach the market, and because of a late bus and traffic along the way we arrived about 15 minutes late. In true Korean fashion the Tourism board decided to change plans and start the event early so we ended up getting there just in time to meet up with the President of the Board while he was helping make Bindaetteok at a small fry stand.
There were about 50 reporters around us with cameras flashing and video rolling, and it was then that we realized why we were there: to be small white faced props. They were doling out free food just to snap photos of us eating it and moving us around to take pictures with the President (aka the tallest man in Korea. Seriously, huge) and these big mascot looking people dressed up in traditional Korean Hanboks that were truly hilarious.
About 25 minutes later we were told the event was over. We were all given a free tote bag and a 10,000W gift certificate to use in the marketplace that day, as well as 50,000W that will be deposited into our bank accounts this week. Not a bad trip! Plus, a friend of Nina’s found the footage on the news that night and sent her the link, so you can see me on Korean Television! That right, watch the video and you will see there is now a close up on my chest on international television…
The event being over we were free to explore the market on our own. The first order of business was lunch, which was a little intimidating as this is what you saw everywhere you looked-
We settled on a place called Suwon Ajumma, which basically means “Grandma’s Soup” We got pumpkin soup which I was sadly not a huge fan of, so I just ate more Bindaetteok and called it lunch (I don’t believe it is supposed to be its own meal). We continued through the market and discovered that most of it is a textile market. There were lots of tailors and clothing stores, my favorite being a shop with Traditional Korean Wedding Hanboks. They are so beautiful! I want to get married Korean Style! We also found an area that was wall to wall buttons (I ended up leaving with 10,000W worth of buttons. How did I do that?) and another area so full of clothing I thought I was going to walk out of it into Narnia.
I sadly had to visit the doctor in Itaewon that afternoon so I headed off while some people stayed in the garment district. I got an old injury looked at now that I have great health insurance, which was a good idea as it needs some help… Now we’re on the right track with that, and I will always have my expensive buttons to remind me of my day at Sijang Kwangjang.