Traditional Korean markets began to multiply in the late 17th century as commerce blossomed. Initially part-time ventures, the markets became regular fixtures as the country modernized. Today, they range in size from modest alleyway markets to sprawling malls, but their character remains steadfast. Introduced here are Korea’s most well-known traditional markets.
Artist Choi Eun-sook’s works often superimpose figures from the past onto traditional marketplaces of today. By transcending time and space and harnessing the characteristics of traditional East Asian painting, the artist creates a utopia all her own.
Traditional markets, which have long been overshadowed by department stores, superstores, and online shopping malls, are making a comeback. But rather than merely regaining their past prosperity, they are now being perceived as exciting places to explore by younger people, leading to a redefining of the markets’ identities.
A new type of urban markets is gaining popularity across Korea. Some of the most notable ones are run by Marché@, a farmers market organization spearheading a new culture among producers, sellers, and consumers. The nonprofit’s projects include regular, seasonal, and pop-up markets, some of which are organized in collaboration with partners that align with its founding principles.
More and more young people open their own stores or take over their family’s businesses in traditional markets. This new generation of shop owners is elevating the markets’ competitiveness by using online platforms and offering both time-honored and new goods that combine high quality and attractive design.